After having spent an entire year working from home, it’s been made quite clear that remote working isn’t going to be given up. The benefit it has provided for many people has made them grind their heels into the ground, preventing most companies from forcing their employees back to the traditional office setting. Since working from home has grown as a must-have option for many employees, tons of companies are looking into switching to a hybrid work model.
The hybrid model is supposed to become the future of work for many companies, but it will vastly vary depending on the organization. It also takes into consideration the needs of the employees and their preferences. If your company is planning to implement a hybrid workforce, you need to consider how your ideal work schedule will look. Business leaders must think about how they are going to maximize the benefits of an on-site and off-site workplace.
Developing a sustainable, equitable, and productive hybrid workforce schedule for every one of your employees is a challenging feat most will struggle with. Many things need to be taken into consideration, such as autonomy, collaboration, and productivity, to make sure there is a sense of inclusivity between team members, regardless of what their work schedule looks like.
If your company is planning to transition over to a hybrid work model, there are several things they need to know when setting up a hybrid workforce schedule that is sustainable for everyone.
Things to consider when making a hybrid work schedule
Hybrid work models are viewed as something that provides employees with the best of two worlds. When it comes to setting up a hybrid workforce schedule, it is crucial to remember that the world has changed from what it was two years ago. The post-pandemic world has changed so many things that it's not entirely possible to go back to the old ways of doing things. The past year has caused a tremendous amount of change, and one of the most numerous changes in the workplace has been to establish better relationships among the workforce.
Of course, employee flexibility and autonomy are at the core of this, and to create a work schedule that meets the needs of your employees, they need to feel like they have enough control over how they work. This means that the level of flexibility offered to employees needs to be taken into consideration. Business leaders need to assess whether the schedule they create is decent enough to accommodate the employee's desire for freedom.
A recent study conducted by Gensler discovered that 52% of employees wish to work from their office between two to four days a week. 29% of employees prefer to return to the office full-time, while 19% of employees would preferably work from home the entire time. That is why it is necessary to figure out what your employees want, as they need to be kept aware of how much flexibility the schedule you are creating will provide them with.
Another aspect you need to consider is the collaborative efforts between the different departments that make up your organization. Since most of your employees are no longer working at the office space full-time, you can’t set up an impromptu collaboration effort. Business leaders will need to think about how much their collaborative efforts among the various departments will suffer from this varied schedule among employees.
Moreover, how will everyone know when they are allowed to collaborate in person with their colleagues or when they need to schedule a meeting? And when half the team is working from home and the other half is on-site, what will you do to make sure silos are not created?
Additionally, fairness is something that needs consideration when it comes to developing a hybrid work schedule. One of the most significant benefits of working at the office space is that they operate on social levelers, guaranteeing that everyone is treated equally to some extent. When that is replaced by a hybrid work model, there is a massive chance of building two vastly different employee experiences.
You must sit down with your managers and think about how this situation will be navigated. Are some people or departments required to be in the office space more than others? If that’s the case, how do they feel about needing to spend more time in the office? How will you ensure that no one is being provided special accommodations or is overlooked?
Managing the schedule
There is one final thing you need to consider when developing the work schedule. Regardless of the kind of hybrid work schedule you create, how are you going to manage it? Are there going to be specific tools in usage that keep everyone’s schedule visible?
Successful remote working all comes down to how sturdy communication efforts are and, while it might not seem contradictory, generally requires remote-first policy. Without establishing things, such as transparent communication and asynchronous, ensuring a seamless operation between the on-site and off-site workers is virtually impossible. Take the time to ensure that every employee is up-to-date with the latest happenings in the organization. They need to be aware of exactly where their team members and managers are going to be working from and which days.
Now that we have provided you with some insight on what needs to be considered when implementing a hybrid work schedule, let's go over several different schedule models you can use and the pros and cons of each.
Cohort schedules allow employees to work during specific days or weeks frequently. A typical schedule for this method would involve scheduling one cohort to come in during Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and a second cohort where they work on-site during Tuesdays and Thursdays. Another take on this would involve scheduling for half of the employees to work during the first and third week of a month and the other half to work the second and four days of the month.
This type of schedule works best for companies that need to have their employees in the workplace but have no need to engage with other departments to finish their work. For example, manufacturing companies are inoperable if they do not have employees working on the factory floor. So may find this method suitable for them. The process also works well enough for agencies or professional service firms that have independent teams.
First off, employees and the on-site team will be aware of who is going to be in the office and how many people are there in the office each day, which means they can plan. Since the same employees are going to be working together in the office each day or week, this approach takes less time and oversight to manage. Lastly, anyone who wishes to work on-site has a set number of days they are allowed to work in the office, so there is no issue with office space.
While cohorts offer far more flexibility compared to five-day all in the office work week, the days off may not be suitable for the employee's personal schedule. Employees will be limited on the chances they have for collaboration with people in other departments. That causes inefficiency for employees who work in cross-functional roles.
Staggered schedules involve the workers coming in at a set time to prevent overcrowding, so it’s an excellent choice for workplaces that have too many employees. If your company works in a building with multiple tenants who all use the same elevator or stairs, this model prevents a massive amount of people from arriving at the same time.
Like the cohort schedule, it is obvious who is going to be in the office space and how many workers are there each day. However, it’s not always clear when someone is going to be in the office. Once an employee has been assigned a time, it takes barely any oversight to manage it. But your on-site team will need to do upfront work to understand what shift works best for each team member. Furthermore, anyone who wishes to work on-site has a set time they can work at the office, but there might be competition for the best hours.
The time slot that is assigned to each employee may not always be suitable for them or align with when they are best suited for productive working. Employees also have some opportunities to collaborate if their shifts overlap, but that window may only be for a few hours at most.
Managers establish team schedules
For this model, managers coordinate with team members to establish their schedules each week. It’s suitable for companies whose employees work in different shifts and need to be on-site with the same people to do their jobs, such as service work or manufacturing.
The schedule ensures that team members are on-site at the same time to empower in-person collaboration. It also guarantees that employees who need to be at the office to get the work done are given a spot. Furthermore, if managers are permitted the opportunity to customize their employee's schedules, the approach can offer far more flexibility. However, if managers are not taking time to customize these schedules or only schedule particular individuals to work on-site.
In this case, employees remain unaware of the days they’ll be on-site until they hear from their managers. It also takes up the most time and oversight of any method to manage. Managers need to approve these schedules, and employees need to request days to come into the office space.
Employees establish their schedules
For this method of scheduling, employees are allowed to establish their own schedules without needing any oversight from their managers. This method works best for companies that have employees expecting flexibility and can remain productive when off-site, such as tech companies. Employee-set schedules are also an excellent option for companies with employees that need to collaborate in person throughout the many departments.
In this case, employees have complete control over what days and time they work from the workplace. If any of the employees work with several departments, they can decide to work on the same day as the team they need to collaborate with. Additionally, employees can set their schedules and work in the office on their own terms. If the employee wishes for more structure, they can plan to work on-site every day, every Monday, or whenever they schedule an in-person meeting.
Since employees have no guaranteed spot within the office space until they include it in their schedule. There is also a potential chance that employees are going to be competing for available spaces or certain days of the week.
Setting up a hybrid work schedule will be another challenging part of your quest to set up a hybrid work model. The schedule you establish among your employees will all depend on the type of company you are operating. Speak to your managers and team members to see what will work best for your organization and establish something that works for everyone.