We know you’re probably tired of hearing the term “new normal,” but it’s pretty accurate when you’re talking about the state of most workplaces. A lot of companies completely changed their approach to work during the pandemic. After spending more than a year working remotely, plenty of people are struggling to find a balance between in-office and remote schedules.
We’re willing to bet that a good percentage of the people reading this post just heard that their office is officially switching to a hybrid schedule. Some breathed a sigh of relief when they heard the news; others were hoping for 100% remote or 100% in-office, but most scratched their head and asked themselves, “what’s a hybrid schedule”?
As managers and employees prepare to head back to the office, there are many questions that need to be answered.
What hybrid schedule works best for everyone? How do you manage everyone’s different working hours? What’s the best way to communicate when you aren’t sure of people’s plans for the day?
Whether you’re entering a hybrid work environment or you’re trying to plan out what one looks like for your company, we’re here to help. Consider this your official guide to managing your new hybrid work life.
What is a hybrid work model?
A hybrid work model is a work style designed to allow fully remote, partially remote, and in-office employees to work together as efficiently as possible. These models allow employees and managers to efficiently organize working schedules that make it easy to understand how employees will be working throughout the day and communicate with one another.
What is a hybrid schedule?
A hybrid schedule is a working schedule where employees alternate working remotely with being in the office. There are various ways to structure hybrid work, and schedules can vary from team to team.
What does a hybrid work model look like in reality?
The answer to that question is...complicated. Remember: hybrid work models exist on a broad spectrum. Some companies may choose to have 100% remote and 100% in-office employees based on their locations. Others might allow employees to choose when they work remotely and when they’ll be in the office.
The schedule individual employees end up following will be influenced by the company's chosen work model and a variety of other factors. Departments and teams, employee seniority, current workload, the fanciful whims of an out-of-touch manager — anything goes when you're planning the schedule.
What do employees prefer and why?
Seek, and ye shall find! By which we mean that the answer to this question will largely depend on your employee base.
But if you’re looking for some guidance, a study from Guru and Loom found that, in terms of preference, hybrid work wins, with 47% of employees preferring to split time between home and the office. 29% preferred fully in-person work, while only 24% wanted a full-time remote setup.
Did those numbers raise more questions than answers for you? That’s why we highly recommend taking the initiative to ask people yourself. A quick employee survey can tell you almost everything you need to know.
Survey master Steve Harvey encourages you to reach out to your employees
Hybrid work benefits
When you’re thinking about the best option for you or your employees, consider the pros and cons of switching to a hybrid model. Let’s start this off on a positive note and spend a little time thinking about the benefits of hybrid work.
Better work/life balance
Need we say more? Work/life balance is frequently cited as one of the most important qualities a workplace can have. Making your own schedule gives you a remarkable amount of freedom and autonomy throughout the workday.
Hybrid schedules give flexible work options to people who need them most. Parents and other caregivers can have the time they need to address their caregiving duties. People with health concerns may find that hybrid environments give them the flexibility they need to see doctors and address their health care needs.
Reduced commute time
It’s obvious that a hybrid schedule can directly cut the commute times of your employees, but you may not know that you could help improve traffic for everyone in your area. Thanks to fewer people on the roads, many people’s commutes have actually improved over the past year, and some expect this pattern to continue as more people opt for partially remote work.
Hybrid work drawbacks (and how to mitigate them)
While there are plenty of great benefits, hybrid work does come with a few disadvantages. Luckily, with the right action plan, managing those problems can be easy.
Hybrid work drawbacks
How to mitigate
It’s harder to foster deeper connections within teams and welcome new employees.
Get teams together whenever possible and encourage employees to share information about themselves.
People who work in-person more, or work in-person with leadership more, may have better career opportunities.
Plan regular virtual office hours that give employees access to company leaders so everyone has a chance to build relationships.
People who work in person with their direct managers more may be at an advantage for career advancement.
Commit to training people in leadership positions in best practices for remote and hybrid management. Take the initiative to train and incentivize inclusive leadership at all managerial levels.
Higher potential for disjointed communications and missing important work.
Adopt an asynchronous communication model so people can communicate effectively.
Lack of overall understanding of project work and company goals.
Schedule regular meetings to give updates on project progress and keep people aligned on company performance.
More people working asynchronous may make it harder for natural leaders to emerge at work.
Explicitly assign leadership in groups that have to form virtually and train those that express an interest in leadership.
The company I work for is going hybrid. What do I need to know?
Have the option of going hybrid? Here’s what you need to ask before you make a decision.
Listen to Dave, please be careful
Health and safety questions
Health and safety should always be top of mind, but it’s understandable to have even more concerns after a pandemic. While you might want to augment or change these recommended questions depending on industry or location, here are the high-level things to find out before heading back to the office:
- What protocols do we have to keep the office clean as employees enter and leave the office for work?
- Do we have special cleaning instructions in place for rotating desks?
- Are there any areas of the office where employees have to wear masks?
- Will there be meeting or common areas where people can comfortably work 6 feet apart?
- Have there been any changes to our sick leave policy?
Actual response you may get from your manager
Everyone needs to understand what’s expected of them as company operations change. These questions can provide some much-needed answers around scheduling and planning.
- Am I able to work remotely and in the office?
- If I need to choose one or the other, how will that be decided? (personal choice, location, team needs, etc.)
- Can I choose how many days I want to work in the office vs. work remotely?
- Am I locked into certain days, or can I change my remote/in-office schedule?
- Do I need to work set hours?
- Will I need to schedule my in-office and remote days in advance? If so, how far ahead of time?
- Are there certain meetings or activities I’ll be required to do in-office?
- Are all hybrid work policies being set company-wide, or will this vary from department/team?
- What is the current office setup, and will I have a dedicated workspace?
- If I have a dedicated workspace, will anyone else be using it while I’m working remotely?
- Will there be space for me to work in-office if I need to come in on a day I planned on working remotely?
Realign those scales
Employee equity can be a significant concern for hybrid work. Policies shouldn’t be biased towards one form of work, and employees all deserve the same opportunities regardless of how they choose to make their schedule. These questions can cover concerns you may have around work opportunities, performance, and your ability to complete work.
- Do we get any stipends for home office supplies or utilities?
- Will the office choose to contribute money towards people that want to rent a co-working space?
- How does the company plan to make sure performance assessment and work opportunities are equal and unaffected (whether consciously or unconsciously) by who chooses to be in the office more?
- What steps are being taken to ensure that remote employees have the same access to information as in-office employees?
- How is the company training people in management and leadership to manage working in a hybrid environment?
- What plans does the company have in place to help teams form and maintain connections with fellow employees?
Planning a move to hybrid work? Here’s everything you need to consider
Employees aren’t the only ones with questions about hybrid work. People in management may have gotten word that the company is switching to a hybrid model, but the stream of information probably ended after that.
Being put in charge of your team, department, or direct report’s hybrid schedule can be stressful. But don’t worry! As always, Guru is here to help. If you’re feeling stuck make sure you cover all of your bases by asking these questions to the main decision-makers behind your shift to hybrid work.
Which people or departments need to be routinely on-site?
Some departments will probably be more flexible than others. Departments that rely on occasional in-person interaction for work like HR, IT, and operations may need to be in the office more often than others. If you’re switching to a rotating desk setup (aka hot-desking or hoteling), you may want to make sure these employees have permanent places to work.
How many people can your office safely accommodate?
Health guidelines will vary depending on your location, so make sure that your office re-opening plans comply with local rules. Regardless of what they are, it can’t hurt to go beyond mandates and consider what will help employees feel most comfortable.
What training are managers receiving to help them effectively manage in a hybrid environment?
Moving to a hybrid environment can be challenging for everyone, but managers and team leaders will feel the brunt of it. Managers need to be given plenty of time, training, and guidance to adapt to the new way of doing things, including scheduling meetings and communicating effectively.
How will you consider employees’ needs for inclusion and flexibility?
Everyone’s remote and in-office days won’t look the same, so decide what can be standardized and what shouldn’t be. For instance, are there days where teams should plan to be in the office? Times when everyone should plan to be on or offline?
Are there any legal obligations to employees to consider?
Do you have to inform employees if someone on the team was exposed to COVID-19? Are you required to change someone’s in-office time because they need to go to a doctor’s appointment? Be careful about how you share confidential information when people are working remotely and know what you can and cannot share.
We appreciate this level of passion for scheduling
These 7 hybrid work schedules make the newest new normal work
You know you’re moving towards a hybrid schedule; you just don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. Don’t worry; you have plenty of models to choose from!
Regardless of your hybrid work style, we know there’s a schedule you and your employees will love. But to make it easy, consider trying any of these models:
1. Cohort schedules
If hybrid work schedules were ice cream flavors, the cohort would definitely be vanilla. Tried and true, a crowd-pleaser, and pretty much the baseline for hybrid work schedules.
When you embrace the cohort method, you work certain days a week on a regular basis. Since employees work set, predictable schedules, this approach typically takes less time and oversight to manage. This method works well for companies with employees that need to be in the workplace but don’t necessarily need to work with different departments to get things done.
Ex: Everyone comes in Monday, Wednesday, Friday and works from home Tuesday and Thursday.
2. Staggered schedules
If cohort schedules are vanilla, staggered schedules are a pint of vanilla with a fudge swirl. Employees that follow staggered schedules can still have set remote and in-office days, but they won’t arrive at the same time. People that work in a large building with multiple tenants might prefer a staggered approach to work if they want a way to cut down on long security/check-in times.
Ex: Everyone on your team works in the office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but everyone begins the day and leaves the office in hour increments.
3. Flexible schedules (manager-led)
If your office opts for a flexible manager-led model, we really hope you have a cool boss. Here, managers are the ones that largely determine who works from home and who works in the office. Depending on overall team goals or meetings, your manager may require you to be in the office on certain days.
Ex: Your manager says your team needs to be on-site because there's a client visiting the office this week, but everyone can work from home next week.
Don't let the freedom corrupt you
4. Flexible schedules (employee-led)
Have you always wanted to make your own schedule? If so, start hoping that your company chooses an employee-led flexible schedule. This still requires plenty of oversight and effective communication from managers to ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them. These schedules aren’t spontaneous (saying “I think I’m gonna work from home tomorrow, is that OK?” at 3:30 pm won’t fly) and need to be planned out ahead of time.
Ex: You have a client visiting so you’ll be in the office all week, but since you don’t need to see anyone the following week you’ll work from home.
5. Alternating hybrid schedules
Alternating hybrid schedules take the best aspects of the above, allowing employees to work out of a single cohort office 1-4 days a week while working from home the other days. (FWIW, this is what Guru is doing.)
Ex: You’re going to work from home 2 days/week and be in the office for June, but for July, you’re going to be in the office 1 day/week and at home for 4.
6. Permanent WFH schedules
Thanks to changing attitudes about remote work and employee preferences, some workplaces are making the jump to forever WFH culture. Plenty of companies have made the switch to permanent WFH after the pandemic. See why Guru is one of G2’s top 3 tools for remote work.
7. Combo schedules
Mix and match your work style to your heart’s content! Pair a manager-led hybrid schedule with a cohort schedule or a different combination to find what works best for your office.
Top hybrid work schedule templates, tools, and tips
Want a little help setting up your new remote schedule? We’ve come prepared with everything you need to adjust to your new normal. Check out this card for our tips and tricks on how you can work remotely and efficiently.
How to roll out hybrid work schedules
After your team decides on the hybrid schedule that’ll work best for them, it’s time to create your roll-out plan. (FYI: We highly recommend that you take a look at our change management guide if you want tips on how to implement big changes.)
Start off by finding a tool that can help you manage office scheduling for employees. Look for something that gives transparency into everyone's schedule and can allow managers to process employee requests to either WFH or work in the office.
If things seem a bit too intense to start now, consider starting out with a smaller test group. Observing a test group can help you make adjustments to your plan and deal with problems as they come up.
Finally, be sure to collect plenty of feedback from employees. Ask if they feel like this new schedule works for them and if they’ve run into any issues with productivity. Even better: see if they have suggestions on how to improve your current approach to hybrid work.
Learn more about hybrid work
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to make remote and hybrid work well...work for everyone at Guru. If you want to learn more, we have some content you’ll want to see: