Remote is the new normal. Ever since the coronavirus pandemic started, many companies that never even dreamed of working remotely have started implementing remote work. However, as the pandemic seems to be coming to a halt and vaccines are rolling out, many businesses are thinking about coming back to the office.
There is just one problem though. Only 46% of companies plan to continue working remotely past COVID-19. Others will go back to the office or adopt a hybrid model, where they work both remotely and from the office, varying the percentage of each.
While we have a good idea of how office life works and we have some idea of how remote work should be done, we have very little idea about the hybrid approach to work.
Today, we’ll show you what a hybrid work schedule is, how to get started with it and how to use it to get the best of both worlds. If you want the comfort of working remotely with the perks of seeing your teammates all in one work model, read on.
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A hybrid work model is a way of structuring your workplace to allow working remotely, from the office and in a combination of the two, all at the same time. The main goal is to allow your employees to choose not one or the other but to give them options in how they want to structure their day at work.
This work model relates not only to where the employee works but also how their day is structured, how they get work done, and perhaps most importantly, how they communicate with their colleagues and report on their work.
A hybrid work schedule is an arrangement that tells your employees when they should work from an office and when they’ll work remotely. Essentially, it’s a schedule for determining when someone will be working from a certain location.
Besides the work part, the schedule also determines how work progress is reported and msot importantly, how your team communicates. Read on to find out different types of hybrid work schedules and their pros and cons.
First and foremost, it gives employees a choice. While remote work is definitely great and allows for a lot of freedom, it’s not ideal for everyone. Some people prefer seeing their coworkers every day, others are more productive in the office. Then again, some people live with parents or children or someone else and working from home is just not an option for them. With a hybrid work schedule, employees have a choice instead of being forced to do one or the other.
Moreover, the future of work isn’t all that clear at the moment. Even though vaccinations are fully in force all around the world, there is still a large number of people who are either unvaccinated or afraid to go back to the office.
All of this contributes to the fact that many companies will use the hybrid model before returning back to the office or experimenting with a fully remote schedule.
Just like remote or office work, hybrid work schedules also come with their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the more common ones.
As you can see, most of the drawbacks of hybrid work come down to communication issues, which is why we’ll be discussing them in more detail shortly.
Take it from someone who’s done it - hybrid schedules take a bit of work and practice to get familiar with. Here are some of our best tips for making hybrid work function for your team.
When people have a hybrid schedule, it means that they won’t be available at the same time and in the same capacity depending on the day. One of the basic premises of hybrid work is being transparent and open with how and where you work. This is not for the purpose of micromanaging or spying on your employees, but rather to let everyone else know how and where they can contact you.
One of the easiest ways to go about this is to set a status in Slack. Next to your name, you can write when and where you’ll be in the office. For example, you can write:
This will allow your coworkers to see when you’re around and they’ll know how to communicate with you.
Moreover, if you want to be fully transparent, you need to ensure that the same hybrid work schedule applies for everyone and that there is no one who has special treatment - but more on that in a minute.
One of the easiest ways to make hybrid work schedules function is to catch up with your employees every now and then. Besides the standard all-hands and department meetings, you also need to make time for one-on-one meetings with your team.
In these meetings, it will be easier for both sides to express their opinion, share their concerns and get feedback on ongoing work. It’s also easier to notice signs of burnout or any issues that an employee may be having in their everyday work. No matter how busy you seem to be, make sure to find some room for these meetings at least once per month with each employee you directly manage.
When you’re not around to be seen, your managers have to trust in you to get work done. In other words, employees have to be accountable for their own work and their deadlines. In the office, the employer can see the employees at all times. While this is a faulty logic (if someone is at their desk = they’re working), it makes sense for old-school managers.
In a hybrid work arrangement, employees can be accountable in different ways. Some of them include:
In a hybrid schedule, it’s much more difficult for a manager to track what their employees are up to at any point in time. This is why the employees themselves have to be accountable for managing, completing, and reporting their work.
When employees are in the office, it’s easier to report on what they do. When they work from home, they need to report what they’ve done and what they plan to do using the preferred method set by the managers.
If you’re starting a company from scratch, it’s a good idea to hire people who are accountable and can handle reporting their own work. If you’re switching from an office surrounding to a hybrid model, bear in mind that you’ll have to openly talk about accountability and teach them how to be accountable.
There is no single way to work in a hybrid schedule. As there are countless companies out there, many different models emerged and you can choose any of them to get started. Once you feel more comfortable, you can adjust them and create your own that suits you and your employees the best.
This is one of the more common types of schedules for remote work. In this arrangement, there is a permanent rule for which days/weeks are intended for remote work. For example, everyone works from the office every day of the week except Fridays, when they can work from wherever they want to.
This is a good model because it’s extremely predictable and it’s easy for everyone involved to get accustomed to it. If you see a company offering a hybrid work schedule, chances are that they’re working in this setup. There really are not many downsides to this model, besides the fact that it’s not too flexible.
Consider this as the cohort model with extra steps. Everything stays the same (only certain days are remote/hybrid), with one key difference. Employees that come into the office can choose when they do so - i.e. they have a timeframe to start their work. For example, from 8 AM to 11 AM. This gives even more freedom to your employees.
This is the true meaning of a hybrid work model. In this setup, the management and the employees choose on their own when they’ll be working remotely and when they will be in the office. Depending on who’s the one choosing, there are two different subtypes of this model.
A flexible schedule led by the management is one where the company management decides who works in a hybrid setting and when. The biggest advantage is that you can shuffle employees around as they’re needed in the office. This model can be a blessing if the management is good. If not, you’ll have managers calling people in for the smallest issues possible. Also, this model requires an additional effort on behalf of the manager to plan the schedule out.
A flexible schedule led by the employee is a dream come true for most people. The employee chooses when they want to work remotely and when they want to appear in the office. The biggest benefit is the massive freedom that employees get. The drawback is that you can be left with no employees in the office when you need them. If you want to practice this model, make sure you communicate your needs as the employer and that you hire accountable people who show up when they have to.
It’s really hard to pick the best model without considering the unique characteristics of your company, management, and employees. The truth is, each company has its own ways to get work done and communicate. Our best piece of advice is to mix and match different models until you find (or create) one that fits you best.
So, you’ve decided to try out a hybrid schedule for your company. Just like all good things in life, this needs to be planned and intentional in order to work both for the company and your employees.
Start off by choosing a model that works for you. You may not get it right the first time around, but choose one to start with. The cohort schedule is probably the easiest one to start with so you can evolve from there once you see what works for you.
Second, don’t just start with a hybrid schedule out of the blue. Take it slowly and for starters, try out one day per week when everyone will work remotely before going further. It’s also a good idea to choose a department or a group of people to try out a hybrid model before implementing it in the entire company.
Third, document how and where you work. Think of this as your hybrid work manifesto - a set of guidelines on how you structure work at your company. It’s easier to brief everyone once you have it in writing and it’s an excellent tool for onboarding any new employees that you hire.
Last but not least, decide on the tools you want to use for managing a hybrid work schedule. Besides communication tools (such as Slack), you’ll also need a set of tools for project management and reporting to make sure everyone stays on track with their KPIs and goals. The market for hybrid/remote work tools has exploded in recent years so there is plenty to choose from for your specific needs.
If you’re ready to roll out hybrid work in your own office, here are some of the best examples of habits, tools, and techniques you’ll need to develop to get started.
In a situation where you can’t tell if someone is working or not, the best thing to rely on are KPIs. For example, the number of sales calls made, the number of articles written, support tickets solved, etc. Numbers don’t lie.
Don’t be cheap and buy that Pro plan in Slack, get a proper Zoom account, and buy all the tools you need for your team beforehand. You can only do so much with Google Workplace, so invest in the future of your team by providing them with the right tools.
If you’re using a cohort or staggered schedule, have those schedules written out in a document and added to your online calendars. That way, everyone will know when and where they will be working from in advance. As a manager, lead by example and stick to the schedule you create for yourself.
Many hybrid and remote companies stick to an asynchronous communication style, where employees reply to messages not in real-time, but whenever they are available. This is just one way to set up communication, so whichever model you choose, write it down. Moreover, determine which type of communication is used for what use. For example, customer-facing calls are done on Zoom, internal company calls are done on Slack, important tasks go through email, work-related messages go in your project management tool, etc.
If it’s your first time going into hybrid work schedules, don’t stress - many people have done it before and they’ve made mistakes. Here are some of them so you don’t have that same experience.
If your entire company works in one model, then that same rule applies to the whole company. There is nothing more demoralizing than working from an office 3, 4 or 5 days per week only to see the upper management working remotely all the time. Whichever model you choose, make sure everyone sticks to it.
In a hybrid work setting, there is no feasible way of tracking how productive someone is by looking at the time they spend behind the desk or in front of their screen. While you may be tempted to start tracking time or forcing your employees to use intrusive time-tracking, screen-recording devices, just don’t. Stick to measuring productivity by using KPIs only.
Hybrid work is fairly new to everyone in the business world. You cannot implement a set of hybrid work practices and then just go on with work. You need to feel the pulse of the company and your employees and make any changes as you go and ultimately create a schedule everyone will feel comfortable with.
Some people can afford to be more present in the office due to the way they structure their lives. Others, such as parents or those who have someone to care for, cannot come into the office as much. Make sure that everyone has the same career advancement opportunities, as long as they get their work done efficiently on time. Never put people at a disadvantage just because they cannot be present in the office more - that’s the entire purpose of a hybrid work model.
If you’re using a flexible schedule where the employer is the one setting the rules, make sure to control yourself and not your employees. This is a double-edged sword because you can give your employees freedom, but at the same time, if you’re pressuring them to come into the office every other day for no good reason, your good intentions will backfire. Set rules and stick to them.
If you’ve worked in a remote setting for a few months and you realized that Zoom meetings for office chat work, why get rid of them if you’re going hybrid? If you see that a certain communication method works, stick to it even in a hybrid setting because it’s clear that your employees appreciate it. It may be tempting to go back to the old office meetings and ditch Zoom, but you need to find a way to include everyone in your hybrid work schedule.
Besides the obvious steps of messaging someone on Slack and hopping on a Zoom call, there are many different ways to connect with people in a remote or hybrid setting. At Zavvy, we came up with a few of our own which we are rolling out in the latest version of our app.
With Zavvy, your managers can have microlessons within the app on a weekly basis to onboard or teach your employees about the different aspects of their work. They’re just 5 minutes in length but they allow you to take a more structured approach to hybrid work and stay engaged with your employees, without disturbing their workflows or tying them into lengthy meetings.
Besides work-related topics, you can also use Zage to communicate on other aspects of hybrid work and life in general. For example, you can assign everyone weekly tasks on resilience, gratitude, and self-reflection.
Zavvy integrates with Slack and all your favorite tools for communication so you can easily implement it into your existing (hybrid) workflow). Try it out today for free!
While it’s still not certain that remote work will be the future, it is fairly certain that hybrid schedules will be around for a good while. Even though they have some drawbacks, their pros outweigh the cons by a large margin and they can make for a great system for companies large and small. With a great team of people, you can start rolling out your hybrid schedule today and enjoy the benefits both for the management and your employees.
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