What Is a Hybrid Work Schedule And How To Make It Work


As many as nine in ten remote employees[1] would prefer to continue with a “hybrid work schedule,” allowing them to work away from the office for at least some of the time.

Working remotely from the office used to be a rare occurrence for the privileged professional. But the practice became commonplace when businesses had to make operational adjustments during the pandemic. Suddenly, numerous employees were actually required to work from home. Research[2] shows that some 5 percent of workers engaged in remote work prior to the pandemic, which quickly rose to over 50 percent in the months following the COVID outbreak in 2020.

In what proved to be a game changer in the world of work, employees working remotely demonstrated to their employers that they could be trusted and productive while working away from the office. In fact, productivity actually increased during this time according to numerous surveys.

During this experiment, most employees found they did not miss the commute. The extra time saved going back and forth to the office (for which they were not being compensated) was spent more productively attending to the tasks at hand. This now makes a full time, five-day-a-week return to the office a “hard sell” for employers.

Hybrid work schedule may not be the preference of all bosses. But in order to keep talented employees happy, many employers now offer hybrid schedules.

What Is a Hybrid Work Schedule?

A hybrid work schedule allows employees to work some of the time in the physical office and some of the time away from it.

The ways in which employers allow workers to divide their time varies from company to company. Some employees come to the office one day a week. Others may come two or three days a week.

Sometimes, the days at the office are coordinated — so that staffers show up for Monday morning quarterback meetings, brainstorming sessions, and planning meetings. Other times, the employees can more or less “choose” which days to show up at the office.

The hybrid schedule used most often provides only one off-site day each week (35%). Findings show,[3] however, that companies haven’t settled on a common hybrid schedule. The number of days that hybrid workers spend at the office is nearly equally divided between one day per week, two or three days per week, and four days per week (approximately one-third each).

Not surprisingly, Mondays and Fridays are the least preferred days to work in the office. As a result, hybrid work has the effect of blurring the beginning and the end of the work week.

The Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Work Schedule

Keeping workers happy is the central motivation for offering a hybrid work schedule. At the same time, employers must grapple with the altered dynamics that having part present/part absent workers creates.

Benefits of Hybrid Work

Among the many benefits that companies and their workers find from a hybrid schedule include:

1. Better Work-Life Balance

Remote workers have the flexibility to address other life responsibilities, such as running errands, taking elderly parents to appointments, or attending children’s school events.

The freedom to work around pressing family obligations enables workers to feel more effective in handling the separate aspects of their lives.

2. More Trust

Giving employees more control over their own schedules sends a message that managers trust their employees to give their best regardless of where they carry out their work.

Employers feel no need to look over their workers’ shoulders to keep them on task.

3. A Break from the Commuting Grind

Removing the daily commute saves employees substantial time that they can devote to work output instead. They gain more personal time at both the beginning and the end of the workday.

4. Fewer Distractions

Remote workers are better able to put their heads down and stay focused for long blocks of uninterrupted time when they’re free from the distractions of office chatter and intrusions.

Their ability to create their own workspace at home where they aren’t repeatedly interrupted helps them put in extended, concentrated efforts.

5. A Motivator

After a day or two of working independently, many employees will show up at the office more motivated to engage with and troubleshoot with their team.

Similarly, once they’ve reconnected with colleagues at the office, they’re more psyched to strike out on their own to tackle their assigned tasks. Such flexibility staves off burnout and invigorates enthusiasm for the company and its mission.

Challenges of Hybrid Work

Conversely, many companies have discovered the potential downsides to offering a hybrid work schedule. These are among the challenges:

1. Trouble with Trouble-Shooting

As many found when remote working mandates were in place, it’s difficult to troubleshoot technology glitches or find quick answers to pressing work questions without having immediate access to office staff.

Off-site workers and IT staff need a better system for solving problems remotely.

2. Maintaining Focus

While dealing with quirky co-workers at the office can disrupt focus, for some, keeping themselves engaged may be challenging.

Some employees need the gentle reminders the old system provided. Deadlines may not feel as real when there’s no boss around to enforce them.

3. No Community

Working from home can feel like working in a bubble. The isolation does not necessarily lead to better work output either.

Bouncing ideas off others in-person opens us up to new kinds of interactions that help us broaden our world, hone our people skills, and make smarter, more informed decisions.

Bonds develop from spending significant portions of our days solving problems together. These connections keep us stimulated and engaged.

4. Difficulties Onboarding

Hybrid work schedules make onboarding new employees much more challenging. Without sufficient instruction or the ability to get questions answered quickly, new hires can be left to flounder.

What’s more, when they miss out on building tangible working relationships with managers, team members, or potential mentors, many workers will feel ignored.

5. Less Recognition

Let’s face it, everyone wants to feel that their efforts are valued and appreciated. Simply receiving an expression of thanks, whether formally or informally, results in a deeper connection to the company as a whole.

But in a hybrid work environment, it may be harder for bosses to keep track of who’s doing the work and who’s coasting. The doers are harder to recognize and therefore receive less recognition than they should.

How to Transition to a Hybrid Work Schedule

What Managers Can Do

1. Be More Efficient

Company managers will want to take stock of what work can best be performed independently, and which tasks require face-to-face interaction.

Communication with team members about how to make efficient use of remote time and in-person time will clarify expectations.

2. Increase IT Support

The change from requiring full time in-house hours to a hybrid work schedule will mean more reliance on technology to effectively track work and communicate efficiently.

Making sure everyone has the technical capacity to perform their work and stay connected to their team is key and may mean increasing IT support services. Ensure that off-site workers and IT staff have a system for solving problems remotely.

3. Focus on Staff Cohesion

Companies with hybrid work schedules will want to intentionally provide opportunities to foster employee relationship building so that employees feel a sense of community in the company.

Especially with new hires, companies must be cognizant of the particular needs of their new employees and allow opportunities for them to share in the social glue that binds employees together.

4. Give Accolades Liberally

It’s important to let employees know how much their efforts contribute to both the success of the company and the fulfillment of its mission. When employees feel recognized, they stick around.

Company leaders need to commit to frequent celebrations of impactful employee contributions — preferably when employees are gathered in-house.

What Workers Can Do

1. Carve Out a Suitable Workspace

If you share living space with family members or roommates, find a place where you can close a door and block out the hubbub.

2. Stick to Your Workday Routine

When working remotely, try to maintain a normal work schedule. True, no one is likely monitoring your work hours (though some employers do!).

Instead of turning off your alarm clock and pulling the covers over your head, make an attempt to stick to your regular workday start and end times.

3. Curb Distractions

Limit your social media intake to once or twice a day. Finish a project or assignment — or come to a natural stopping place — before making that personal call or logging into that news feed.

If you want to learn more strategies on how to stay productive while working remotely, don’t miss: How to Work Remotely (Your Complete Guide)

Final Thoughts

As companies continue to experiment with the hybrid work schedule, they will give their employees the flexibility they’ve come to expect while ramping up their productivity in return. lIt’s a working model that’s likely to remain for the long term.

TL;DR

Don’t have time for the full article? Read this.

A hybrid work schedule allows employees to work some of the time in the physical office and some of the time away from it.

Benefits of a hybrid work schedule: includes improved work-life balance, increased trust between managers and employees, time saved from commuting, reduced distractions, and enhanced motivation and enthusiasm.

Challenges of a hybrid work schedule include troubleshooting difficulties without immediate access to office staff, maintaining focus and productivity without traditional office structure, lack of community and limited social interaction, onboarding challenges for new employees, and reduced recognition due to limited visibility for managers.

Managers transitioning to a hybrid work schedule can streamline work tasks for remote and in-person work, increase IT support for seamless communication, foster staff cohesion through relationship-building opportunities, and give frequent recognition and celebrate employee contributions.

Workers transitioning to a hybrid work schedule can establish a dedicated workspace that provides privacy and minimizes distractions, maintain a consistent workday routine, starting and ending work at regular times, minimize distractions by setting boundaries with social media and personal activities, focusing on work tasks before engaging in non-work-related activities.

Featured photo credit: Sweet Life via unsplash.com

Reference

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