Everything you need to know about hybrid work schedules
We’ve come a long way since the first purpose-built office was built in London in 1726 and over the centuries since, offices have evolved into the modern premises we use today, acting as both work and social hubs for the employees who work within them.
For a long time, the physical office has been the norm. The office is the place to go for many jobs. You pack up your lunch box, grab your speciality teabags and head off on your morning commute, returning in the evening for some rest and relaxation at home.
But things change, and the office as we knew it is no more.
In her article about the history of the office, writer Lucy Kellaway observed that, ‘…the office today is having a bit of an identity crisis.’ That was in 2013. And in the almost-decade that followed, pandemic notwithstanding, the office has come through its identity crisis, risen to the challenges of the ensuing years, and undergone a huge transformation in its office-shaped cocoon, emerging into the butterfly that we see today – a blend of the physical, the remote, and the hybrid.
From the traditional work schedule of the physical office, there are now three main work schedules organisations can adopt:·
And it’s the last one we’re here to talk about today.
Hybrid working is our world here at Team Today and hybrid work schedules are what we’re all about. But what are they? And what can they do for your organisation?
Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. So, read on and prepare to emerge yourself in the wonderful world of hybrid work schedules.
What exactly is a hybrid work schedule?
In a nutshell, it’s a working model that blends the office working world and the remote working world.
It’s the point at which the two worlds meet and become one. It is the ultimate, flexible, adaptable working schedule, and the one which fits into our modern working lives in a way the office-only model can only dream of.
Just as organisations vary, so too do hybrid work schedules. Thus, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ option, and what works for one organisation won’t necessarily be the right fit for another. Fortunately, hybrid work schedules exist on a spectrum and there is a range to choose from, each with its positive points.
Whilst it isn’t exactly a new concept, many of us are still getting to grips with hybrid working. And perhaps a sign of its newness is in the differing names given to the different work schedules, so you’re likely to come across similar concepts with mismatched titles. Worry not, we’ve summarised the most commonly found ones here.
Broadly speaking there are two main approaches in hybrid work scheduling: cohort, and flexible.
Fixed hybrid schedules
The most structured of the approaches, fixed hybrid schedules are company-led and are defined by employees working to a specific hybrid structure which follows a regular pattern.
Flexible hybrid schedules
In this model, companies decide the split of days when teams are present in the office and when they are to work at home. A popular example is employees spending 3 days in the office and 2 days at home. Companies can specify the exact days to be worked in either location or simply the number of days, allowing the employees to choose.
Prescribed office days might be based upon having whole teams in the office together at the same time or, if this is less important or the teams work interdependently with other teams, they may wish to divide in a different way.
The schedules can be adopted as a company-wide approach where everyone follows the same pattern, or as one that managers can determine for their own teams. Being more structured doesn’t mean there is no is fluidity.
Staggered / Working in shifts
These work schedules are most suitable for organisations that use shift working patterns for their staff. Typically, they will specify the days to be worked in the office but also the times the employee is expected to be there from and until. These are the most rigid of the cohort schedules but also the easiest to plan for.
This is the big benefit to cohort hybrid work schedules – they make hybrid working easy to coordinate and plan, because they are structured and predictable.
Some companies may find they save money on office costs if they have whole teams in the office together or at home at the same time, and therefore do not need the office space they have traditionally needed. However, something to consider here is when employees choose the days they wish to work in and out of the office as this may make the potential to downsize the office space less likely.
Cohort hybrid work schedules provide an approach which is less rigid than the traditional office-based model but still keeping some structure, so that your teams are clear when and where they are expected to work.
These are the hand to hybrid working’s glove. Flexibility is what it’s all about with these work schedules. Giving your employees the autonomy and control to choose their working patterns.
Hybrid flexible / Hybrid-at-will / flexible
With flexible schedules, the staff are in charge. There are no set rules. There are no strict patterns. Employees set the tone and decide when to come into the office and when to work remotely.
Companies can adopt a flexible approach centred around location only or include the option to choose the hours the employees work as well. All determined by the teams. So, for example, team members could work a standard 9-5 on the days they are in the office but adopt a freer approach to timekeeping on home-working days, perhaps including a break in the middle of the day for home and personal commitments, and then resuming work later in the evening.
The biggest benefit here is freedom for your staff. To be able to manage their own work schedule is a huge plus and can go miles in helping them have positive wellbeing and work-life balance. Providing flexibility in your hybrid work schedules tells your teams that you trust them, and it fosters good relationships with managers.
And cost reduction can be a benefit here too. For companies wishing to make some savings by downsizing office space, this option might seem like a no-go area, but, if you’re savvy with your planning, you can still achieve this. By implementing a good hot desking and desk-planning system and utilising the hybrid work scheduling tools at your disposal (did we mention that’s what we do?), you can still achieve your office downsizing dreams.
If there is a negative to flexible schedules, it’s that planning can be more complex but not impossible with the right policies and procedures in place.
Of course, it may be that none of the above on its own is right for your organisation and you actually need a bit of a cohort schedule and a bit of a flexible one too. Hybrid working allows for you to mix the two to create your own bespoke work schedule.
Hybrid work schedules bring with them so many benefits, and not just those highlighted above. Often, we perform better in certain tasks when we’re not working in the office. Tasks that require more focus, concentration, peace and quiet, and less interruption, lend themselves to remote working. And in turn, collaborative teamwork, planning, and strategy work all happen best when we are with our peers in the office. Hybrid working provides the blended approach that suits this perfectly.
Before you grab your notepad and pen and start designing your dream hybrid work schedule, there are some things to consider.
We’ve said before that we’re all different and what works for us might not work for you. So, you need to think about what is best for your organisation.
Things to consider
Which approach will get your teams working in the most productive way, meeting the needs of your employees and the wider team, meeting the needs of the company to reach its goals, and creating the right environment for fruitful and productive work?
Team and company set up
How do your teams work together? Do they work independently of other teams, where location depends only on the team but not necessarily on connections with others? Do they work independently of each other within their team, where location is more fluid and doesn’t rely on them being physically together? Or are they interconnected within the company and dependent on other teams, where location and being physically together is crucial?
Culture & wellbeing
Which hybrid work schedule will work best for your company to ensure that you foster a positive company culture and employee wellbeing? How will you design your schedule to ensure you are able to provide the work-life balance your teams need?
How ready are you as an organisation to cope with a hybrid work schedule? How does your office set-up look right now? Are your teams equipped to work from home and in the office? What’s your communications strategy looking like? Have you created a desk-booking plan, or will you keep your current design? And what tools will you use to help with your work scheduling?
This might seem a lot to think about, but careful preparation will serve you well in the long term to be able to plan effectively and to have the right hybrid work schedule for your organisation.
Lastly (for now)
Creating your hybrid work schedule is just the beginning. It’s all a learning curve and it’s important to take a step back whenever you can and assess how its all going. Build in reviews, get feedback from your teams, and if anything isn’t working, change it. Let it be fluid and flexible.
If hybrid working is completely new to you, take a look at our blog for helpful articles and resources to help you manage.