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The past two years have forced companies in virtually every industry to make drastic adjustments to their operations. Countless teams have had to work together in a virtual environment, and managers have learned how to keep their workforce organized without seeing them in person.
If you’re like many other business owners and managers, you now face the task of preparing your team for a return to the office. Whether you are resuming full-time operations at your physical location or reopening partially, the process is bound to bring challenges.
Don’t worry. Kadence is here to help you come up with a plan that works. Below, we’ll talk about how to choose, create, and manage a hybrid schedule that prioritizes your employees and helps your company reach its goals.
Combine remote work with in-office work, and you get a hybrid schedule. Many companies are implementing this kind of schedule to compromise between the two. Still, business owners and managers realize that it can offer the best of both worlds. Many remote employees prefer a hybrid schedule over working full-time in the office or at home.
There are many types of hybrid work schedules. Some center more on remote work while others begin with time in the office and go from there. No hybrid schedule is king; the ideal model depends on the company, teams, and individual workers involved.
So, let’s talk about a few of the most common forms of hybrid work schedules:
Creating a hybrid work schedule often involves separating employees into specific groups or cohorts. Dividing employees into cohorts lets you manage your on-location workers and remote workers at the same time. Cohorts also allow you to rotate remote workers with on-site employees for the optimal hybrid working scenario.
One of the most straightforward hybrid schedules was developed in May 2021 by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The two-three split means that employees work three days in the office and two days from home (or remotely from anywhere else).
For Google, specific functions and product areas determined when each team would work in the office. The company is even receiving applications from employees who want to work remotely full-time.
To keep up with the times, Microsoft implemented a half-and-half work schedule for its employees in October of 2020, and it’s still an option for employees of the company in 2022.. This schedule is a little vague, as it simply states that employees can work from home half the time, but it doesn’t apply to every department.
Microsoft decided that specific teams and individuals flourished by collaborating in the workplace.
This hybrid schedule is as it sounds. It prioritizes remote work over in-office work. Implementing a remote-first plan means that some workers can come into the office occasionally but work most of the time remotely.
Companies like Quora pull off this work schedule by letting employees move to any location they wish, so long as the company can legally employ them in their new area.
Quora also turned its primary California office into a coworking space for its employees and implemented a policy that requires every team member to use their camera for virtual meetings.
Autonomy has become a job characteristic that many younger job seekers are looking for. The flexible or “pick-and-choose” work schedule was designed to cater to those candidates. It essentially means that a company allows its employees to decide which days they come into the office, though many companies restrict the choice to several preset options.
For instance, SalesForce offers three options. Employees can choose a “flex” schedule that puts them in the office one to three days a week for meetings, presentations, and collaboration. Some employees can opt for a fully remote plan to work from anywhere 100% of the time.
Typically, this schedule is only available to workers whose roles don’t require them to be in the office or who don’t live within reasonable proximity to the workplace.
The other schedule that SalesForce offers is “office-based,” which entails being in the office four to five days a week. This option is ideal for a few specific roles in the company, but it is the least common schedule for the SalesForce team.
A scheduled hybrid work schedule is a company-mandated timeframe for when certain employees have to be in the office. While a flex schedule lets employees pick choose their remote work and in-office days, the schedule system leaves that decision up to you as an employer.
You’ve learned about some of the popular hybrid schedules. Now, it’s time to figure out how you can create a plan that boosts efficiency and morale:
First of all, you will need to gather data from your team and other companies to have the necessary information for choosing and creating a hybrid schedule.
Send out company-wide surveys and conduct one-on-one meetings to get feedback from your employees. Many companies have used this method to learn that most of their team members only planned to work in the office two to three days each week and that none of them planned to work full-time in the office again. That said, you will likely find that most of your employees don’t want to completely abandon the collaboration and interactions that come with a physical workplace.
Before scheduling an interview with your team, ask each employee to create an outline of their job duties. This includes the tasks specific to their position and other responsibilities like mentorship, leadership, and communication. This data will allow you to develop a schedule that keeps everyone productive and happy.
You will also need to research other teams to see what is (and is not) working for them. Researching large corporations that have braved the challenges from the pandemic over the last two years, as well as successful small businesses in your area, can help you craft a custom schedule for your organization.
After collecting data on your team and other companies, evaluate the results to determine how to create a schedule that maximizes the benefits of remote and in-office work. This requires you to break your office and remote tasks into categories. Some jobs will be easier to fulfill with a remote team, while others will require physical collaboration.
Some organizations allow employees to return to the office solely for networking, meetings, brainstorming, and other collaborative events and assign all other tasks to be done remotely.
It’s also essential to avoid any negative diversity impact on your team, even unintended. For example, fully remote work has its perks. It allows your company to hire from a larger talent pool worldwide, making it easier to put together a diverse team of individuals.
However, if you allow all of your employees the freedom to choose when they come into the physical workplace, you could create a siloed workforce. This means that a specific group of individuals, usually those with resources for childcare and transportation, end up coming into the office. It’s not hard to see how this could leave many employees out of the room.
Also, consider how you can help all of your workers feel like they genuinely belong on the team, which can be challenging as you navigate a new hybrid schedule.
Some businesses have tried to start their hybrid work schedules too drastically. But keep in mind that if your employees have been working from home since early 2020, you should probably take your time transitioning them back into the office.
Even if you hope to implement an office-first schedule for parts of your team, start by bringing those employees back to the office one or two days a week. From there, you can gradually increase the number of days they are physically present.
Lastly, understand that you will likely need to tweak your hybrid schedule and learn as you go. Consistently reassess your plan to determine how you can rework it to fit your team and your business goals more closely.
Remember, no single schedule works for every organization. So you will need to continue researching and learn from trial and error to figure out the best approach.
Though it could be the best move for your business right now, transitioning to a hybrid schedule will come with challenges. Here are a few ways that you can help the transition go more smoothly for your managers and employees:
Your first step will be to make a list of goals for your company, teams, and individual employees. These goals should be clearly defined and align with a specific objective of each department and the company at large.
Here is a practical example: You have arranged a virtual meeting for your marketing team, but a few team members have fallen behind on a specific project. Should they attend the meeting or focus on the project to catch up? Assign a priority level for every task and project across all your teams, and ensure that each employee understands the most urgent and vital tasks.
Accomplishing this without the right project management system is next to impossible. Ensure your team uses software to easily assign tasks to specific workers, establish deadlines, track progress, and notify people when tasks are complete or need more attention.
Many products even allow you to create public dashboards so that team members can more easily communicate and stay connected to the organization’s overarching goals.
Along with defining your priorities, it’s also critical to set realistic expectations for your team members and company. Most of your employees will be new to the concept of a hybrid schedule, and you want to have the right expectations that help everyone flourish and stay encouraged through challenges.
For example, explain to your team the reasons you are transitioning to a hybrid schedule and lay out what you expect them to accomplish, how you expect them to communicate and collaborate, and so forth. Using a hybrid workplace management solution makes it easy for managers to set expectations on how and when they expect teams to be in/out of the office.
We touched on project management software above, but it deserves a little more attention. It is integrate your project management software with the other programs that you use. Integration allows your project management software to present a holistic view of customer data. That integration also allows every team member to know what is going on in their respective departments.
When it comes to staying on the same page, collaborating on tasks, and executing the overall company strategy, you will want to use software with all the tools and features necessary to simplify your mission. This includes processes like automation, activity logs, interactive whiteboards, tagging, team chatting, and so forth.
Finally, know that it can be challenging to keep track of each team member’s workload when you don’t see them in the physical office every day. It’s critical to ensure that none of your employees or managers are over or underworked. Some platforms allow you to easily organize and monitor your team’s workload via a clean, easy-to-navigate visual interface.
Some systems provide a feature that lets you view your entire team’s workload on a single page, making it easy to see where you are allocating work. Along with showing you who is doing what in your organization, it will help you meet deadlines and give you an overview of your available (and unavailable) resources.
Your company is not the only one to have been forced into a dramatic reevaluation of your operations over the last two years. Consider a hybrid schedule if your team has been working in a virtual environment and you are trying to plan a transition back into the office.
Your company and employees stand a lot to gain from a hybrid model as long as you approach it the right way and carefully plan for the transition. Keep learning about the various types of schedules, get feedback from your team, and research what other companies are doing to determine the best plan for your organization.
Get our guide to ensure everything is covered as you transition your business model for hybrid working.