Hybrid has pretty quickly swept over the world. If in 2020 the majority of the office workforce of the world was forced to work remotely for the duration of the lockdowns, in 2021 COVID-related legislation settled into place, allowing organizations to open their doors to employees again.
Thus, a new era in workplace flexibility began. How, more exactly, is that translated into hybrid work schedules? And maybe even more importantly, what are the pros and cons of such a work schedule?
Read on and find out more.
What Is a Hybrid Work Schedule?
A hybrid work schedule is a hybrid of a traditional nine-to-five work schedule and a more flexible, non-traditional structure (such as remote work, for example). The hybrid type has grown to be very common on the market and companies use it to force employees to work at certain times while allowing them to schedule their daily tasks in a more flexible way.
Allowing employees to choose their own working schedule, as well as where exactly they want to work might seem complicated. However, with the right tools and processes, you can actually make your life and that of your team more flexible, more balanced, and more productive.
There are as many variations to hybrid work as company policies there are, so you will definitely find something that suits you. More on this, though, later on in the article at hand.
Types of Hybrid Work Schedules
A hybrid work schedule combines elements of both remote and in-office work. It offers employees flexibility regarding their working times, days, and locations. This section will detail four different types of hybrid work schedules:
Cohort schedules divide your team into smaller groups or cohorts that alternate between remote and in-office workdays. For instance, one group could work remotely on Tuesdays and Thursdays while another does so Mondays and Wednesdays. Several advantages come with this approach:
- Reduces office crowding while maintaining meaningful face-to-face interactions
- Grants a degree of flexibility for individuals' differing needs
- Encourages teamwork among specific cohorts
Staggered Schedules / Shifts
Staggered schedules are characterized by assigning unique start times, end times, or breaks for each employee within their in-office days during the week. The aim is to minimize overlap and congestion within the workplace and at peak commuting times.
Benefits of staggered schedules include:
- Decreased likelihood of traffic jams during commuting hours
- Reduced stress for employees who may not be early birds or night owls
- Minimized contact between workers during pandemic outbreaks
Flexible scheduling allows employees to choose their preferred work hours (within certain agreed-upon limits) while still adhering to a core set of mandatory in-office hours every week. This type of hybrid schedule empowers employees to manage their time effectively.
The advantages associated with flexible hybrid schedules include:
- Accommodating personal commitments outside the workplace more readily
- Allowing individual variations in productivity rhythms
- Promoting a sense of autonomy among workers, which can increase job satisfaction
Fixed Hybrid Model
In contrast to cohort and staggered schedules, a fixed hybrid model entails designating specific days or strings of consecutive days as remote workdays for all employees. This approach imposes consistency to allow for greater predictability and planning.
A few compelling reasons to consider implementing a fixed hybrid schedule are:
- Ensuring that all employees maintain meaningful in-office time
- Streamlining communication by having everyone on the same page concerning available core hours
- Establishing clear expectations when it comes to defining an ideal hybrid work schedule
No single type of hybrid work schedule will suit every organization; evaluating your company's unique needs and circumstances is crucial before selecting the best fit.
Benefits of the Hybrid Work Schedule
Clearly, the hybrid work schedule wouldn't have gained this much popularity if it didn't have considerable benefits. Some of the most important advantages of the hybrid work schedule include the following:
Better Work/ Life Balance
...which translates into happier employees. Greater flexibility and allowing people to work where they are most productive and schedule their tasks appropriately will help them create more life/ work balance.
More Inclusivity in the Workplace
Hybrid work enables companies to hire people globally. Even if remote international employees will only be in office once a year (depending on your policy), not limiting yourself to a geographical area will increase not only the talent pool, but also the cultural diversity of your team.
Reduced Commute Time
Nobody likes wasting time in long commutes (or short ones, for that matter). Hybrid work reduces the time needed to commute, which leads to happier, more productive employees.
The Possibility to Have Face to Face Meetings (When Needed)
Unlike 100% remote teams, hybrid companies can enable their employees to meet face to face in person if needed. Not only will this lead to a better workplace, but hybrid employees can also feel more included and valued when the "real life meetings" option is available.
Prioritizing Employee Safety
Employee safety should come before anything else, and the COVID pandemic has definitely given us all a lesson when it comes to this. Hybrid work allows you to be flexible in the event of disease outbreaks, political turmoil, or situations that endanger your team's safety.
Remote work can feel alienating -- but also quite addictive. The best of the two worlds is hybrid work, of course, where you can go to the office when you feel the need to socialize, and work remotely when you'd much rather run tasks from your favorite pair of sweatpants.
By allowing hybrid employees to choose their own work schedule, as well as which days they want to come into the office, hybrid work gives your team more job satisfaction and reduces fatigue.
How productive employees are when they are remote varies a lot from one person to another and from one company to another. However, with hybrid work schedules, you enable everyone to work wherever they feel more productive.
Challenges of Hybrid Work Schedules
Nothing is ever perfect -- and hybrid work schedules make no exception from this slightly upsetting universal rule.
The good news?
Albeit true, the challenges of hybrid work are not at all insurmountable.
Here are some of the more common ones:
Time Zone Differences
Time zone differences can be a real issue for hybrid work, as not everyone will be able to attend meetings at the times they are scheduled. This is why it's recommended to build hybrid teams with like-minded members spread across time zones. Furthermore, creating sturdy async processes also helps you and your team achieve your goals even when you can't all be online at the same time.
The "Invisible Team" Syndrome
Where hybrid employees spend a lot of time communicating on Slack and other platforms, they can sometimes feel like they're part of an "invisible team". People who only meet once or twice a year (depending on your policy) might miss out some real-world interactions.
Outside of real-life meetings and the occasional sync, remote and hybrid teams might sometimes feel entirely out of place -- and alone. It's not a nice feeling, for sure. But it's also not a problem you cannot fix by encouraging more face to face meetings.
Hybrid work can be hard from a communication standpoint if you're not used to it. Setting up video calls, as well as guidelines on hybrid day guidelines and hybrid work schedules, becomes essential when you start working this way.
Hybrid Work Schedule Examples
As mentioned in the beginning, there are as many hybrid work schedule examples as there are companies. However, some of the more popular options include the following:
The Two/ Three Split Schedule
The two/ three hybrid work schedule is the most popular hybrid option, as it lets employees enjoy two working days at home and three working days in-office. The downside? This type of schedule doesn't usually offer too much flexibility and it tends to be seen as a compromise, rather than an actual employee benefit.
The Half/ Half Schedule
This hybrid work schedule allows for half of the working days to be spent at home/ remote and half of them to be spent in the office. This hybrid work schedule hybrid is great for socializing while working, as well as better time management. The challenge? Such an arrangement might not be feasible if your team members are scattered around different time zones or if you have too few hybrid employees.
The Remote-First Schedule
The remote-first hybrid work schedule is one of the most flexible options, as it allows hybrid employees to be remote as much as they want (and as a preference, actually). An office space is available for those who want to come on site, but the majority of the team considers themselves as "remote workers", rather than hybrid workers.
Employee-Led Flexible Schedules
As the name suggests, this type of hybrid schedule involves employees leading the hybrid work schedule charge. This type of hybrid schedule is great when you have hybrid employees who feel responsible for their own time management and you want to avoid having them feel as though they are being micromanaged.
Manager-Led Flexible Schedules
This hybrid work schedule is great for employees who might need a bit of guidance when it comes to time management. Usually, this hybrid work schedule involves managers leading hybrid employees as far as their hybrid work schedule goes, but the ultimate decision still rests with the employee.
5 Steps to Create a Hybrid Work Schedule
Let's say you have already had your mind set on a hybrid work schedule. How, more specifically, do you create it?
Although the following steps are not a one-size-fits-all kind of recipe for the hybridization of your workforce, they will still give you a fair idea of the "blueprint" you need to follow to create a hybrid work schedule.
Gather Feedback from Your Employees / Collect Data
To start on the right foot and make sure the hybrid work schedule you're creating is in line with what your team wants, start by asking them what they want, how they want it, and how they see this happening.
Once you know what hybrid employees want, it's time to find out if they are really interested, as well. You can do so by having hybrid employees sign up for a hybrid work schedule (if you want it to be opt-in, that is). If the interest is there, you're good to go!
Rethink the Tasks (Office-Friendly vs Remote-Friendly)
Once you know who wants to hybridize their workforce and how, it's time to decide which tasks are remote-friendly and which ones are office (because, yes, some are more suitable to be done at home, while others might require special tools that are more likely to be found in an office).
Emphasize Communication and Accountability
Once the hybrid work schedule is in place, hybrid employees need to communicate more so you can ensure they're on top of their tasks and hybrid. Make regular communication part of your processes, even in async. Simple Slack add-ons can help you keep track of your employees' daily activities and they can help the entire team sync on collaborative tasks even when they are not all online at the same time.
You don't have to jump headfirst into a hybrid schedule right away. Start by testing the waters to determine whether hybrid employees are truly happier. You can do so by hybridizing 1 or 2 teams or even one employee, see how they get on with it. Once you know hybrid employees thrive and both the hybrid and non-hybrid employees are comfortable with hybrid work, you can take the process one step further.
Reevaluate and Make Changes If Needed
You shouldn't consider your first hybrid schedule procedure and policy as a final version. Look at it as you would look at a draft, more than anything. The hybrid work schedule you create now might need a few adjustments, and you can make them as you go. That's OK. What's more important is getting started and making sure you listen to your employees' feedback when it comes to this schedule. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of time trying to implement something your team isn't that excited about (and, frankly, when it comes to hybrid work, everyone should be excited).
Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing a Hybrid Work Schedule
Implementing a hybrid work schedule can pave the way for a more engaged and productive workforce. However, there are potential pitfalls that companies should be mindful of during implementation. Let's discuss three common mistakes and how to avoid them.
The Same Rules Don't Apply for Everyone
Applying a one-size-fits-all approach to your hybrid work schedule may prove detrimental in the long run. Every team or department has different requirements, and each employee's situation might vary too. A successful hybrid remote work schedule considers these individual needs and preferences while finding balance with organizational goals.
To avoid this mistake:
- Survey your employees to understand better their unique preferences, workload, and personal circumstances.
- Develop an ideal hybrid work schedule that respects varying time zones if you have a geographically dispersed team.
- Adjustments may be necessary as your organization grows or people's situations change.
Going Back to Old Methods of Tracking Productivity
The success of a hybrid office schedule hinges on effective tracking of productivity, but reverting to old, outdated methods may undermine morale and efficiency. Judging performance solely based on hours spent in the office is not fair in a hybrid environment—instead, aim for outcome-based assessments that prioritize results rather than physical presence.
To prevent this issue:
- Update performance metrics to align with new work schedules—focus on quantifiable goals and project completion rates.
- Ensure managers are trained in reasonably evaluating productivity within a hybrid schedule.
- Encourage open communication between teams when assessing objectives and progress.
Setting It And Forgetting It
Allowing room for ongoing evaluation is vital when implementing any new system, but all the more so with something as sensitive as redefining workflow dynamics through hybrid schedules. Complacency can result in rising dissatisfaction among employees whose concerns or suggestions for improvement need to be considered.
To mitigate this risk:
- Conduct regular pulse surveys to gauge employee feedback and satisfaction with the hybrid schedule.
- Maintain an open dialogue with employees, promptly discussing any issues and addressing concerns.
- Be prepared to alter your approach if a particular format doesn't seem effective—embracing organizational agility is vital in today's fast-paced business landscape.
By considering these potential pitfalls, companies implementing hybrid work schedules can maximize the benefits while minimizing potential challenges. Remember that change takes time, so finding ways to adapt, reassess, and improve is essential in successfully navigating a transition toward a culture that supports onsite and remote work.
How to Manage Your Team’s Hybrid Work Schedules?
If you have already established your hybrid work schedule procedure and internal policy, you might be wondering how to make the most out of it. Here are some tips to help you manage your hybrid work schedules successfully:
Make Sure Everyone Is Aligned
Once your hybrid work schedule is in place, it's very important to make sure the entire team is aligned and knows what is expected of them. If hybrid employees and hybrid managers are not on the same page, it will be hard to make it all work out. If, however, everyone understands how this works and how to make it seamless and smooth, you will all benefit from the advantages hybrid work has to offer.
Use the Right Tools and Technology
Managing flexible work arrangements doesn't have to feel like a nightmare in a spreadsheet. The right tools (such as desk and room booking software, as well as quality video and audio equipment) can be your allies in ensuring everything is not only properly tracked, but also easy to use by everyone.
Keep a Log of Remote Team Members
This is not meant to be a tip that encourages micromanagement. However, both you as the manager or HR and your team members should have access to a log to see who's remote and who is not. This will make communication and collaboration easier, as well as help you keep track of employee productivity and the efficiency of your hybrid work schedule.
There's nothing hybrid can't cover in terms of work efficiency and employee satisfaction and engagement. Done right, a hybrid work schedule will enable everyone to feel free, to choose their own location, and to create the dream lives we've all been picturing since the dawn of the internet.
Are you ready to step into this new age of work?