It seems like we can never get away from discussing the idea of hybrid work schedules. Every time we turn around, a new statistic or concept is being discussed like a trend that has suddenly appeared, marring and mocking the history of work that lies behind it. It’s as if, upset about the way things once were, those with direct ties to business administration are still marveling at the idea. How can something so drastic take such a useful and regular form in such a short period of time?
It truly is a wonder. Around 4 years ago, the idea of working from home was left specifically to those with cushy gigs or freelance careers. Being a normal, 9-to-5 professional with a job that stretched from your bed to your home office was deemed both impossible and implausible. For the taboo of appearing in person was still soaked throughout the entire fabric of American work-life. If you weren’t physically at a work location, you weren’t actually working.
But, the pandemic caused a multitude of attitudinal changes.
Firstly, only 6% of citizens worked from home in 2019, with the number shooting up to a staggering one-third of all employed during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Now, sitting in the ash and wake of the life-altering quarantine, 15% of working opportunities are remote, despite the shutdown ordinances of COVID-19 being far in the rearview.
So, as employers, the decision to move to hybrid schedules was mostly faced years ago. But, if you are just not deciding to jump into the option, you may have questions on how to adapt it. That’s okay, even late adapters can still enjoy the benefits of the old trends. Therefore, we will break down an ultimate guide on how to create a hybrid schedule and how to implement it effectively.
- What Are Hybrid Schedules?
- How to Create a New Schedule
- How to Start a New Schedule
- What If It Doesn’t Work?
What Are Hybrid Schedules?
If you are unaware of what hybrid schedules are, you are probably extremely confused. If you are unaware of what hybrid schedules are at this point, then you have been living under a rock for the last 3 years. And to that, I say, lucky you.
Overall, a hybrid schedule is a work schedule that involves both time in the office and remote work. If you or your team reports to the office some days and works from home other shifts, then you are working with a hybrid schedule. This is derivative of the remote working schedule that was fully implemented during the quarantine shutdown of 2020.
While a hybrid working schedule does include remote work, it is not a fully-remote schedule. A remote schedule is based on never reporting to a physical office, leaving employers able to work with employees in different states and locations. The hybrid schedule requires both in-person and online work, though the amplitude and techniques in which this works vary (we’ll get to that).
The degree to which a hybrid work schedule involves various employment methods depends. But, even if a wildly uneven split, if a worker goes to work physically and does remote labor, the schedule is considered hybrid.
Are They Worth Your Time?
As we stated, if you are just now adopting a hybrid working unit, you are a bit late to the party. The creation of the hybrid schedule truly began during the tail end of the COVID-19 shutdown(though it has existed in some industries for years). While remote work was mandatory for the majority of 2020, it let up later in the year. At that point, companies had already adapted to the remote-work module but still believed that in-person labor was necessary for production. Therefore, companies jumped on board with having the best of both worlds. They could ask workers to report to the office for certain events or days, and still have the health benefits of remaining mostly remote.
Though the COVID-19 reign is not necessarily eliminated, the pandemic is officially over. Therefore, the health benefits of staying home are no longer a necessity. This has caused hybrid workplaces to become less common than before, but not entirely extinct.
Everyone Loves It
A survey by Slack found that 72% of workers in six different countries prefer a hybrid remote-office model with only 12% preferring to always work in an office setting. 13% of surveyed workers would like to always work from home and never return to the office.
Generation Z (who are set to make up 27% of the world workforce by 2025) believes that remote work is necessary
due to the increasing dread and health situations that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about.
Zippia found that 26% of employees in the U.S. now work remotely (as of 2022). Furthermore, according to a study from GOBankingRates, 29% of Gen Z say they prefer to work remotely (the lowest of all generations), and 27% say remote working is a necessity (the highest of all generations). Though conflicting information on paper, the idea is clear: Gen Z doesn’t like to work from home, but they understand the importance of it for both mental and physical health.
Simply put, the future of the working world believes that hybrid workplaces are the future. They understand that a return to the office is necessary for productivity, but they have seen the fear and danger that an in-person world can bring in the midst of a life-altering pandemic. Furthermore, they have seen the possibility of a hybrid workplace and know it’s a workable concept.
So, even though you may be late to adopting the flexible schedule, you are not entirely out of the race. The necessity for it remains at a high rate, and its future of it seems unavoidable. If the majority of employees want it and the majority of employers are willing to abide, then there’s no reason it should end.
Different Types of Hybrid Schedules
Earlier we mentioned that the definition of a hybrid schedule is fairly flexible. As long as a company involves both in-person and remote work, it’s considered hybrid. The percentage in which both happen doesn’t truly matter. If a worker reports to the office once a month, it’s still considered hybrid.
Consequently, this calls for a plethora of different working schedules happening throughout the labor market. Ultimately, what works for a company depends on the specific industry and means of production, but there are a few different ways to go about it. When deciding to move to a hybrid schedule, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the multitude of options.
Should they come in every other day? Once a week? Maybe they just work from home once a week.
To create a quick guide, we will explain the 3 major forms of hybrid schedules. Which one you decide on depends on an array of factors.
The Different Forms of Hybrid Workplaces
Structured Schedule: In the structured schedule, the department head or leader makes a plan that follows through to every employee beneath them. For example, the leader may decide that the employees will work from home Monday through Thursday and then return to the office every Friday. This goes for every employee.
This schedule works because it’s easy for everyone to follow. It doesn’t change, allowing everyone to schedule meetings and other activities accordingly. It’s the most common form of hybrid workplace.
Staggered Schedule: In this module, the employee is required to appear in person, but can decide when and where. For example, the employee may be required to work at least 8 hours in the office. They can do it on whichever day they like (unless a specific need is asked for a specific day).
This gives the employee flexibility but also gives the employer the facetime they require.
Flexible Schedule: The flexible schedule gives the manager and employee the means to discuss and decide individually. If an employee thinks they only need to be in the office once a week, and the manager agrees, they can make the individual schedule. A peer employee in the same role and department may prefer working in person more often, creating their own individual schedule.
This gives the employees the freedom to choose, keeping them happy and productive. The biggest issue with this module is keeping track of all the different moving pieces and calendars.
How to Create a New Schedule
So, you have decided that you want to move on to a hybrid schedule. Regardless of the timeframe you pick (and if it even fits into the 3 categories above), there are a few things that need to be decided upon and worked through before fully transitioning.
As is the title of the article, we will delve into the different tips necessary to create the outline of a hybrid schedule. These preceding tips involve the creation and planning of the module.
Ask Your Team and Management
There is nothing wrong with speaking to your team in order to figure out what will work best. Asking for employee opinions isn’t admitting that you aren’t in charge or stating that you have no clue what to do as a supervisor, but shows the employee that you care about getting it right. At the end of the day, the employees are the ones working on the floor (metaphorically and not metaphorically. They are the ones that will be able to give the best advice on what module will work.
Ask the supervisors under you what they believe will work best for production. What do they think is necessary for the best creativity and energy? What aspects and tools do they believe they will need to supervise and manage efficiently? They are the beacons of your workforce, giving you the best information on how to approach the situation correctly.
Ask your employees what they want from the hybrid schedule. What do they think will work the best?
Do they even want to work from home? As stated, they are the ones that know the workforce the best.
Hold a meeting to discuss the idea openly. It may sway your opinion and help create an effective plan. It also will keep everyone engaged, enforcing a company culture that values the input of the team.
Decide What Needs to Be Done Where
To further help create designations and schedules, make a list of what production needs to be done in the office and what work can be done remotely.
Consequently, some things you won’t know for sure. There are some business tasks that will be left up in the air until trial and error (we’ll get to that next). Therefore, the list should only involve things that you know, for a fact, can be done in specific locations. If you know a part of the production must be done in the office due to, say, specific equipment, then you know an in-office day must be called for when that production is needed.
For example, if you need to use a 3D printer for a part of the production, you must designate which day will involve needing it. Obviously, that day will at least require some time in the physical office. So on and so forth.
Once you figure out what parts of your week must be done in the office, you can then start to formulate a schedule that hits all the corresponding requirements.
Be Open and Flexible
As we have noted throughout the entirety of the article, you won’t have a firm grasp on what needs to be done until you begin working remotely. Ultimately, companies had the full trial period of the quarantine to work through the bumps and bruises of adjustment. In this situation, your company does not have that benefit. Therefore, you will have to learn and make adjustments on the fly.
Remember to stay flexible and open to communication. You may believe that a certain thing can be done at home, but quickly realize it requires in-person work. When that’s the case, don’t reprimand employees or become upset at the entire idea of hybrid work. Communicate with them and flex the schedule accordingly.
It’s impossible to prepare for every scenario of hybrid schedules. Things will arise you weren’t ready for. When they do, be willing and able to pivot in the right direction.
Furthermore, keep an ear open to your employees. They may have gripes or suggestions once the process begins. Attempt to correspond and compromise with their findings. For example, if an employee decides they would rather work in the office every day, see if a middle ground can be met.
It will be a rough transition for everyone. Be willing to work through it.
Decide What Tools Are Necessary
There are a plethora of tools and applications that will be necessary to work from home. Therefore, before you begin moving into the hybrid workplace, you should get a rough idea of what will be needed. You don’t want to start your first hybrid day lost in the wasteland, unsure how to even communicate with your staff.
Of course, you may find that you need specific tools you were unaware of once you being working remotely. But, you should have the most important ones noted and shared before you begin. For example, you will need a way to communicate with your entire team. Before you begin your first hybrid day, make sure everyone is on the same communication program (i.e. Slack, Skype, or Google Chat).
It’s impossible to note specifics for this tip. Depending on your industry and production, you may need field-specific programs and applications. That’s something for you to take inventory of ahead of time.
How to Start a New Schedule
At this point, you have at least created a rough outline of what the hybrid work schedule will be. You’ve decided what days will be remote, what tasks will be done in-office, and what applications will be necessary for communication and production.
Now comes the tough part: making it happen.
Every idea is great on paper, right? It’s how you implement it that truly matters. Therefore, starting your hybrid workplace is more than just coming up with the concept. You have to smoothly transition into it to not lose significant company resources and time. Production must not seize!
Ultimately, becoming fully hybrid will take some time and effort. As we stated, other companies have a headstart on you. That’s okay. Those companies went through trials and tribulations, too.
Here are a few tips to expedite the transitioning process into hybrid schedules:
Hiccups Will Happen
Don’t become discouraged when things go awry. Moving an entire staff to remote work is a tough ask. With a mix of technology and tasks, something is very likely to go wrong. What matters is the extent to which you panic.
Breathe and find the best solution.
You may realize that some parts of your business simply will not work remotely, or that some processes slow down and some become significantly more efficient. You may have employees do the wrong thing out of confusion or miscommunication.
There are plenty of things that can go wrong, and some that certainly will. As a leader and mentor, you will need to assure your team that you will overcome these hurdles and grow into a more advanced and flexible company. Try to stay empathetic and keep clear communication. This is not the time to be too harsh on your workers. They are transitioning, too.
Need more tips regarding leadership skills? Here’s a list of the best abilities all leaders possess:
Meet on the First Day
Everyone is transitioning. It’s going to be a rough first day, regardless of how prepared you are. Therefore, it’s important to meet and discuss the experience with your employees.
We recommend meeting with your entire team after the first day of remote work. We also recommend holding an in-person meeting after the first week or month of hybrid schedules. These meetings allow you to get feedback on the entire process, making flexing and fixing more streamlined. It also gives you a clear and easy way to talk about any information or changes that come up during the experience.
Clear communication and openness are important to the entirety of hybrid schedules, especially during the beginning stages.
Not only are meetings crucial for the beginning of the transition, but you should always check in with your employees. Once a day, once a week, or once a month depending on how things play out, but keep in contact. Reach out and ask if everything is going well. Ask if they have any questions or concerns about the new module. It’ll go a long way to building a better and more open culture.
Set Clear KPIs to Start
Our next two tips are going to be a bit contradicting. Bear with us.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or overall goals will be necessary for at least the beginning of the adoption. During the first period, you want to make sure that productivity remains at an acceptable rate. To keep track of your team and judge the future of the module, you may want to set clearer or stricter benchmarks than you had in-office, just to make sure.
Surprisingly, a study by Standford of 16,000 workers found that working from home increase productivity by 13%. This was due to more calls per minute attributed to a quieter more convenient working environment and working more minutes per shift because of fewer breaks and sick days. So, it’s likely that productivity will increase. But, you won’t know for sure until you see it.
We recommend giving everyone specific tasks for the first period (whether it be a month or 6 months is up to you). Give each department or employee a specific list of tasks and check back in with them at the end of the day or week to make sure they get done. This isn’t something to keep long-term, but it should be done at first to make sure everything is efficient.
While the majority of businesses actually see an uptick in production when moving to hybrid workplaces, some may not. There is always the unpredictable aspect of the human element. You want to make sure everything works well and production doesn’t dip significantly.
Thin Line Between Keeping Track and Being Overbearing
Though we recommend sticking to a tight schedule or task list during the beginning of the transition, we don’t recommend it forever. At the end of the day, you should have a team of employees that you trust. You should have a working culture of honesty and dependability. If you can’t trust your employees to do their jobs during the remote days, they shouldn’t be your employees.
Calling for strict schedules (like constant updates) or all-around remote micromanagement will deter your employees. You wouldn’t look over their shoulders the entire time they are at the office, so you shouldn’t do it remotely, either. Give them the trust they have earned and deserve.
As noted, the introductory period is nothing personal. Let the employees know you will be stricter with check-ins to start just to make sure everything works out. Let them know that this is only going to occur during the transition, and attention will lighten up once the process is solidified. Don’t discourage your employees by watching their every move during remote work.
Once you know that things are going smoothly, back off. Hold meetings incrementally and check in with employees to make sure production is flowing, but don’t call for strict schedules and checkups. That defeats the whole purpose of hybrid work in the first place.
If you can’t trust your employees to work remotely, you shouldn’t be adopting hybrid schedules. It’s that simple.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
It’s okay to go back to in-person-only work if necessary. If you try hybrid working and find that it does not suit your department or business type, don’t stick with it. While there is a part of employment that involves compromising with employee wants and needs, there is another part that needs to be strict in order to maintain a successful business. If your employees want hybrid work, try it and be patient, but if it hurts the business, don’t stick too long.
Ultimately, give it a try. Speak with your employees and be open. Give the opportunity a chance and ride through the various hiccups and disturbances. Give it a fair shake. After some time, if you find that it’s not the best move for your company, let the employees know, honestly, that that hybrid schedules aren’t to work.
It’s okay to admit you were wrong, especially as an employer. Just make sure to do it with respect and honesty.