While there are a lot of open-ended questions about the future of work, all data points in the same direction – the workplace of the future is hybrid and flexible.
According to McKinsey’s latest report, when given a chance to work remotely, 87% of Americans take it. The requirement is ubiquitous across key industries and essential to tech innovators.
For team leaders, the widespread adoption of hybrid work creates unique problems to solve. One of those is finding your organization’s answer to a looming question – what is a hybrid work schedule.
In our post, we examine the types of hybrid work schedules, their pros, and cons, as well as best practices for hybrid work scheduling.
What is hybrid work: meaning
The hybrid remote work model is a practice of giving employees the opportunity to work both remotely and at the office.
Depending on the size, type, and organizational culture, the answer to “What is a hybrid work schedule” can vary. For example, Apple requires employees to come to work at least 1 day a week while Airbnb gives teams full freedom.
What is a hybrid work schedule
Navigating the mix of hybrid and in-office work is complex and can disrupt operations, offset productivity, and create misalignments. Without clear-cut internal policies, team leaders can lose track of where each teammate is working and expect people to come to the office on their WFH days and vice versa.
Creating a hybrid work schedule is the foundation of a structured, reliable, and scalable environment. It drives efficiency and ensures healthy communication by:
- Setting predictable and clear rules that give employees the ability to organize routines and ensure work-life balance.
- Increasing the hybrid work place transparency – managers and teammates alike should be able to look at the schedule to know where and how they can connect with each other.
- Creating constants in a highly dynamic environment. When organizational unity no longer depends on the physical location, documented schedules and fleshed-out internal policies help keep the moving parts together.
- Leveling the playing field. Creating a hybrid work schedule valid across the organization is a way to make sure no one is picking up extra slack and protect the team from burnout.
In the post-pandemic world, team leaders are facing the challenge of integrating the changes of the last two years into scalable and long-lasting hybrid remote work models.
Hybrid work is one of the most prominent workplace shifts that took shape over this time – now that most companies are contemplating the shift from emergency operations to normal functioning, it’s time to intentionally introduce the change.
Taking control over hybrid work policies and giving teams the certainty of a structured schedule will help team leaders protect teammates from work-related stress and burnout.
Types of hybrid work schedules
Depending on how team leaders handled the emergency response to the pandemic, the nature of their activities, the role of their office spaces in the pre-pandemic environment, and leaders’ vision for the future, companies have different approaches to structuring hybrid work.
At the moment, the following hybrid schedule examples dominate:
1. Office-first (remote attendance is allowed but not encouraged)
Approach to hybrid work: team leaders promote office attendance but allow teammates to work remotely in times of personal emergencies.
Companies that follow the model: teams where daily interaction and collaboration are essential, companies with a robust office culture or little experience of remote-only work.
- Making full use of office spaces
- Promoting collaboration and workplace connection
- Little disruption compared to pre-pandemic work environments
- Limits hiring to specific areas
- Dissatisfaction among employees who worked remotely during the pandemic
- Limited room for operational cost-cutting
Approach to hybrid work: all processes are designed with remote work in mind. Companies might offer office spaces but there rarely is a robust office space infrastructure and attendance is optional.
Companies that follow the model: international teams, remote-first organizations by design, and businesses created during the pandemic.
- No geographical limitations – ideal hybrid work environment for international teams
- Flexibility and autonomy are appealing to employees
- Reduced office expenses
- No unified approach to attendance, it’s hard to estimate office capacity
- Lack of predictability
- Team leaders might have to face engagement and retention issues due to the lack of personal connection between team members.
3. Split week (decided by the company)
Approach to hybrid work: the management team decides what days a week employees should work at the office and from home.
Companies that follow the model: corporations that want to have a clear-cut organizational structure
- Predictability and the ability to optimize office maintenance
- Easy to reach the entire team because everyone is at the office on the same days
- Easy to build operations around the model
- Employee resistance
- No way to scale down office spaces (since the entire team is coming to work on set days, the infrastructure has to be maintained at full capacity)
4. Split week (decided by employees)
Approach to hybrid work: employees are free to choose when they want to come to the office or choose hybrid work from home within the boundaries set by the management (for instance, three days of office and two days of remote work).
Companies that follow the model: the split week approach is the most popular hybrid work schedule type used by companies of all sizes across multiple industries.
- Higher degree of autonomy
- Adapts to emergencies
- Strikes a balance between fully in-person (regimented) and fully remote work models.
- Hard to keep track of everyone’s office days
- Teammates might have a hard time connecting with each other
- Limited geographical flexibility (the team is still tied to a physical location).
5. Virtual office space: flexible hours and location
Approach to hybrid work: managers don’t set fixed working hours and have no fixed location allowing employees to work when and where they are comfortable. To stay connected and increase employee retention, team leaders adopt virtual offices – platforms that give employees from all over the world a common space for brainstorming, knowledge sharing, team building, and networking.
Companies that follow the model: at oVice, we introduced over 2,200 organizations to the concept of the virtual office. It has been successfully adopted by global companies like Panasonic, Yamaha, and Toyota, as well as SMBs all over the world.
- Full flexibility resulting in higher employee satisfaction and retention
- Room for cutting or eliminating office expenses
- Broader hiring reach
- Having to introduce a new tool to the tech stack
- Learning curve associated with navigating a virtual office platform (depends on the vendor)
- Virtual offices cannot fully substitute in-person interactions
Best practices for hybrid work scheduling
As there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for building business processes, it’s equally difficult to develop a universally valid hybrid work scheduling system.
The responsibility of choosing an approach that meets the needs of the company falls on team leaders – at the same time, they should guide their decision-making by best practices.
Since the launch of oVice, we’ve supported thousands of teams worldwide. Interacting with team leaders and teams exposed us to hundreds of management styles and we were able to see which ones were more effective. Based on our firsthand experience in supporting teams through hybrid work transitions, we developed a list of best practices for setting up a productive hybrid remote work schedule.
1. Make the decision as a team
No matter which scheduling model you decide to introduce, the transition will be more seamless if the entire team is involved in making the call. Here are the tools you can use for feedback gathering:
- Polls and surveys
- Internal forums
- Conference calls
- 1-on-1 reviews
- Dedicated Slack channels
To make sure people are encouraged to speak up, make the voting anonymous but transparent so that everyone can see how many people voted in favor of the leading option.
2. Have room for maneuver
The workplace of this decade (possibly, the rest of the century) rests on the foundation of change. Organizations are no longer rigid and static guardians of procedures and policies – they are dynamic entities, full of moving parts.
Your team’s hybrid work schedule will be more change-resistant if you don’t go overboard with regimenting attendance. To make sure they are not constraining the team too much, managers should ask themselves:
- Does the schedule account for emergencies in my teammates’ lives?
- How well does the hybrid work policy adapt to external changes (gas prices, property market fluctuations, global emergencies like the pandemic)?
- How much would it cost to change the way the organization is run?
- Is it possible to implement changes swiftly and on a tight schedule?
- Can the team’s hybrid work schedule account for differences seen across all roles within the organization?
3. Stand on the shoulders of giants
Going through the motions of the hybrid work transition is confusing but team leaders should remember they are not alone on this journey.
The leaders across all industries – from tech to finance and manufacturing – are working hard to understand the ropes of hybrid work. In some cases, they share their views and knowledge publicly – and growth-oriented team leaders would do well to listen.
Here are a few reference materials managers can check out to feel more confident in making hybrid work decisions:
- Brian Chesky, Airbnb talking about the future of hybrid work at the company
- Tim Cook of Apple explaining the company’s RTO policy
- LinkedIn team sharing their take on the workplace of the future
- Multiple executives share hybrid work insights for McKinsey.
4. Use the right technology to support your hybrid work schedule
Finding solutions to emerging problems and introducing technology to the workplace set high-performing companies aside from struggling organizations during the pandemic.
In the hybrid setting, the trend will likely continue – teams who have figured out how to connect physical and virtual operations will have the upper hand. Designing and sticking to a hybrid work schedule will also get a lot easier once you have the proper tech supporting the change. A list of helpful tools includes but is not limited to:
- Virtual office platforms that bring remote and hybrid teams together and overcome the disconnect between offline and online operations.
- Work management tools that help keep track of schedules and timesheets.
- Feedback gathering platforms that make voicing their opinions more accessible to teammates.
- Communication tools for seamless day-to-day collaboration
Understanding how to build a hybrid work schedule is fundamental to succeeding in the hybrid remote work models. Considering a wide range of subtleties that come into play, leaders should make this decision based on the needs of their teams. Ideally, managers should arrive at an arrangement that combines flexibility and structure.
In our experience, technology is an excellent assistant in organizing hybrid operations. Our team uses oVice, a virtual office we designed, to connect in-office and remote employees all over the world.
In an environment where we cannot connect at a common physical location, the platform gives teams a virtual space for collaboration, spontaneous discussion, team buildings, client meetings, and other activities that require connection and organizational unity.
Find out how we helped companies revolutionize their work environment with virtual office, event, and education spaces. To give the platform a try, take a tour around our office and connect to the team.