When the pandemic took hold in 2020, remote work solidified itself in the mainstream for the foreseeable future.

Two years on, the same can be said for hybrid work.

At this point, most employees — nearly 80% — expect hybrid operations to become the “new normal” for at least the next decade.

Unfortunately, this semi-permanent shift is causing concern for managers in a number of ways:

  • 64% say their teams will eventually have to return to the office in full
  • 50% are worried about a lack of professional development opportunities for their employees
  • 43% say hybrid work schedules are “not likely to succeed in the long term”

But, with four of every five employees pushing for a more flexible arrangement — and many highly-successful companies making the leap to hybrid scheduling — your best bet is to fully embrace hybrid scheduling as soon as possible.

What is a Hybrid Work Schedule?

A hybrid work schedule is one in which employees are scheduled to work either on-premise or remotely at certain times or for specific assignments.

As we’ll discuss, hybrid work schedules are created to be flexible for the sake of both productivity and convenience. The idea is for employees, teams, and the organization as a whole to be able to operate at maximum capacity no matter where and when work is being done.

To this end, a hybrid work environment aims to bring the best of both on-premise and remote operations to the organization.

Types of Hybrid Work Schedules

To be sure, not every company can adopt the same type of hybrid work schedule and remain functional.

(In fact, some can’t “go hybrid” at all. More on that in a bit.)

Typically, hybrid teams will adopt one of two approaches to scheduling.

Cohort Hybrid Work Schedule

In a cohort hybrid work schedule, either all employees or all members of a specific team (or cohort) will follow a clearly-defined, uniform schedule.

A cohort hybrid work schedule can be structured in one of three ways:

  • 3:2 Model: All members of the cohort work on-premise three days a week, and remotely the other two — all working at the same scheduled times.
  • Staggered Model: Cohort members are scheduled to work on-premise or remotely at varying times throughout the week. Typically, on-premise shifts will overlap to ensure coverage as needed.
  • Bottom-Up Model: The cohort and team leads set requirements for on-premise and/or remote scheduling, then develops a model that works best for their circumstances.

Flexible Hybrid Work Schedule

Flexible hybrid work schedules allow employees and teams to decide when and/or where to work, both overall and at specific moments in time.

There are two ways to approach flexible hybrid scheduling:

  • Flexi-Place Model: Employees or teams are scheduled to work at the same time, or on a set schedule — but can work from wherever they choose.
  • Flexi-Time Model: Team members can work whenever they choose when working independently, but will often complete hands-on and collaborative work on-premise.

In both cases, this model allows employees and teams to apply the bottom-up approach in real-time to determine when, where, and how to get the job done.

Why Should You Implement Hybrid Work Scheduling?

Earlier, we mentioned that many owners and managers aren’t exactly optimistic about hybrid work becoming the norm.

The truth is, though, hybrid work scheduling can benefit your organization and your business in a number of ways, such as…

1. Keep Top Talent Onboard — and Attract Even More

First and foremost, offering a hybrid work schedule to your employees is essential to keeping your best employees around.

In fact, HRDive cites a lack of hybrid scheduling as one of the key factors behind the Great Resignation. A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that hybrid teams see average attrition rates of 4.1%, compared to the 7.2% seen by strictly on-premise organizations.

The flipside of this reduced attrition, of course, is increased employee retention.

On top of that, offering a hybrid work environment is often a key selling point to prospective employees — with 59% of job-seekers saying it could potentially be the deciding factor in some cases.

2. Maximize Team and Business Performance

Here are two pretty telling statistics for you:

  • 63% of teams classified as high revenue growth utilize a hybrid work schedule
  • 69% of teams classified as low revenue growth do not

In short:

Hybrid scheduling can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

This increase in growth is due in large part to the structural and strategic changes that come from the shift to hybrid. For one, employees and teams are able to work when they’re at their most productive. And, they’re able to take full advantage of all the resources you offer right when they need them.

On that note…

3. Save on Operational Costs

Generally speaking, hybrid scheduling can minimize a number of costs for your business, such as:

  • Rent, utilities, and other continuous on-premise costs
  • Travel compensation for commuting workers
  • Costs associated with absenteeism

And, when employees are using on-premise resources, they’ll be much more efficient and economic in doing so.

Overall, hybrid scheduling can end up saving companies an average of $11,000 per half-time employee, annually. This, again added to the increase in productivity across the board, will lead to maximum profit for your business.

4. Cultivate a Flexible Mindset

Adopting a hybrid work schedule requires a ton of flexibility from all involved parties.

Ideally, this newfound flexibility and willingness to go beyond the status quo will spill over into all areas of your operation.

Practically speaking, your employees will become more autonomous not just in where and when they work — but also in how they approach the tasks in front of them. A flexible mindset will empower them to think beyond traditional standard operating procedures in unique situations in order to ensure optimal outcomes.

The shift to hybrid scheduling can cause your organization to be more open to change in a broader sense. Again, you’ll be less likely to go with the status quo because “that’s how you’ve always done it” — and more inclined to look for innovative solutions to every problem you face.

(And, if absolutely nothing else, you’ll at least reinforce your change management efforts in the process.)

Challenges of Using a Hybrid Work Schedule

As beneficial as going hybrid can be for your company, there are definitely a number of pitfalls to watch out for — and some that can preclude you from going hybrid in certain situations at all.

1. Situational Restrictions

To begin with, certain business models and niches just don’t support the hybrid approach to scheduling — either partially or in full.

For example, location-based or physically-intensive work usually must be completed on-site — even if planning and other admin work can occur anywhere. In such cases, the cohort model would be necessary to ensure efficiency and productivity.

Similarly, companies requiring in-person shift work will need to be more restrictive in their scheduling than fully distributed teams.

You also need to consider employee-specific factors, such as their location, childcare issues, and their physical ability to work on-site. In some cases, this may be a matter of fairness; in others, a matter of legality.

In any case, acknowledging your team’s restrictions upfront will help you choose the right hybrid scheduling model to work with — and help you tailor it to your specific needs.

2. Team Oversight, Management, and Alignment

According to a recent report from AT&T, uncertainty regarding oversight is one of the top challenges managers face when shifting to hybrid scheduling.

"Businesses moved with urgency to distance employees. Now they need to do the same when it comes to deploying the tools needed to overcome distance. Closing the gap between a business (and their) employees should be a priority for every executive.” - Steve McGovern, CEO, Dubber

No matter the approach you take, the number of variables in play will increase substantially. For managers, it becomes more difficult not just to oversee and manage their teams — but to also keep all team members aligned with one another.

Another thing managers have to watch out for is proximity bias, which can cause them to show favoritism to employees who tend to work on-premise more often. To this end, managers may need to put extra effort into attending to their remote employees — or risk alienating them in the process.

Team members must reciprocate this effort to stay on the same page, too. Since they may or may not ever actually see each other (and might never even speak in real-time) it just becomes harder to stay aligned practically — and to forge more deep-seated relationships with one another.

3. Data and Document Management

Data, document, and knowledge management is more challenging, as well.

With teams and employees working asynchronously on individual projects, the chances of encountering redundancies, bottlenecks, and other blockers increase substantially. Even something as simple as a missed sign-off request can hold up progress until a manager or team leader signs back on.

Then, there’s the issue of making organizational documents accessible to all team members as needed. If you haven’t already, digitizing and digitally storing these documents should be a top priority.

Best Practices for Implementing an Effective Hybrid Work Schedule

Okay, so:

We know that introducing a hybrid work schedule to your operations can be immensely beneficial to your business when done strategically and effectively.

We also know that a haphazard approach can be outright disastrous.

(Side note: Could there be an overlap between teams who don’t fully embrace hybrid scheduling and those who fail to see the benefits of it? I wonder…)

At any rate, let’s now dig into what it takes to do hybrid work scheduling right.

1. Define Clear Performance-Based Goals (and Realistic Requirements)

Just because you’ve switched to hybrid scheduling doesn’t mean your overall vision and business goals have changed.

What may have changed, however, is how you get there.

One of the key shifts hybrid managers are urged to make is to ditch time-based performance measurements — and instead focus on evaluating employees based on the quality of their output. In turn, your employees will learn to work when they’re most productive — and avoid wasting energy (and company resources) when they’re not at their best.

(This is where performance evaluation forms come in handy as a good practice for all teams regardless of operational structure.)

While flexibility is a key perk of hybrid scheduling, your employees should understand their responsibilities with regard to deadlines, communication, and overall participation. 

For example, though you may not expect immediate responses to certain messages, there should be a clear time-based protocol for handling them when received. Similarly, setting expectations for attendance and participation (e.g., during meetings, etc.) should be a top priority before you begin rolling out the new hybrid schedule.

From there, you should reinforce what hasn’t changed regarding your expectations. From standard operating procedures and company policies to your company vision and mission, your employees should understand that the shift to hybrid doesn’t mean the fundamentals have gone out the window.

2. Keep Employee Enablement Top-of-Mind

Ensuring your hybrid employees can work to their highest capacity at all times is crucial.

Here, employee enablement revolves around three key factors:

Firstly, your employees need to have open access to all software, tools, and equipment they’d typically use in a traditional work setting. A fully-integrated tech stack, along with cloud-connected devices is vital to streamlined hybrid operations.

As best as possible, your employees should be able to simulate their optimal work environment wherever they wish. To help with this, many hybrid teams provide stipends for their employees to purchase things like noise-canceling headphones, ergonomic furniture, and other productivity-enhancing amenities.

Employee training may be necessary to get your team members acclimated with your new hybrid processes. Incidentally, this training can be conducted both in-person and via digital means — which can help reinforce the balanced approach of hybrid operations, in itself.

3. Stay Engaged and in Touch (However Possible)

As we discussed, one of the main challenges of managing a hybrid team is keeping in close contact with your employees.

After all, in some cases you might never be in the same room at the same time — and may only communicate asynchronously via the internet.

So, facilitating engagement with your hybrid employees should always be a top priority.

Routine meetings and check-ins (both individual and team-wide) should occur often enough to maintain oversight — but not so frequently that they interrupt your team’s flow. Setting clear meeting agendas will help you make the most of the precious time you have with your distributed employees.

Since real-time observation is typically out of the question, your team and project management tools will be your go-to source for catching up with team progress and employee performance. Keep close tabs on alerts and updates on these platforms to quickly identify your team’s needs at all times — and to further enable them moving forward.

4. Create Open and Active Lines of Communication

Going along with the above, you need to create open lines of communication throughout your hybrid organization.

For one, your team members need to be able to engage and converse with each other in various ways, for various purposes. Whether simply relaying information internally or cross-collaborating with multiple teams, your employees should have a variety of internal communications tools at their disposal.

Such as:

  • Slack and Jabber for direct messaging
  • Jostle and Staffbase for team-wide communications
  • Basecamp and ClickUp for project information and updates

Make sure your hybrid employees can reach out to you through these and other channels whenever needed — whether for more guidance, to update you on progress, or to give feedback on their hybrid experience.

5. Make Time for Culture Building

Beyond enabling practical communications, you’ll need to provide ample opportunities for your hybrid employees to grow together as a team.

The trick here is to do this in ways your team members will actually appreciate and engage with — and that doesn't make them feel like a captive audience throughout.

For starters, there should be numerous ongoing ways for team members to sit back, chat, and engage recreationally with one another. If possible, on-premise break rooms and lounges incentivize remote employees to come into the office every once in a while. For digital nomads and locals alike, Slack channels and group chats make for a close substitute.

Regular meetups — digital and in-person — can bring people together, either for specific purposes or just to have some fun. Make sure to include opportunities during onboarding to introduce new hires to their colleagues on a more personal and personable level.

Finally, consider hosting special events every once in a while, both online and off. Ideally, you can get the team together for a yearly summit or getaway — but you can also get creative with virtual conferences if your team shows interest.

All this being said, the fact is that most hybrid workers are happy with their work environment and culture as is. So, while building team culture and camaraderie is important, don’t force it — but instead put in place the means to let it grow naturally.

6. Make Ongoing Improvements to Your Approach to Hybrid Scheduling

Needless to say, making the shift to a hybrid work schedule isn’t going to happen overnight.

And it won’t be without its fair share of challenges, either.

But, again:

Only those that embrace hybrid work — and that put maximum effort into making it work — will experience the full benefits it brings to the table.

Over time, then, you’ll want to make ongoing improvements to your approach to hybrid scheduling on various levels.

As we’ve touched on, you’ll first want to assess employee and team performance. 

Comparing digital and in-person engagement, participation, and contribution can help you determine how your employees and teams work best, and what they may need to work on in the future. You can also compare your team’s current performance to their historical, pre-hybrid records to better understand how they’re managing the change thus far.

Incidentally, you can glean a ton of insight into all this by digging into the not-so-positive side of your data, such as:

From there, you can reach out to your teams and employees for more in-depth feedback on these individual events — and on their overall experience as a hybrid team. This can lead you to make laser-focused improvements to all areas of your hybrid operations.

Finally, as your team becomes more acclimated with the hybrid way, you’ll gain a more realistic understanding of what they can achieve moving forward. Use this knowledge to make continuous adjustments to your workflows, performance goals, and overall expectations of your hybrid team.

7. Document and Centralize Everything

The key to keeping all members of a hybrid team aligned is to document everything they need to know — and to make this information accessible to everyone, anywhere, at any time.

This is where your internal knowledge base becomes essential.

Your knowledge base should be the place your hybrid employees go to for more information on the immediate task at hand, their job-related responsibilities, and their overall duties to the company. It’s also where they should be able to find practical information, such as team contact info, software manuals, and other such internal documentation.

With this need-to-know information at their fingertips, your hybrid employees will always be able to work productively — whether working from home, on-premise, or on location.

Using Helpjuice to Optimize the Shift to Hybrid Work Scheduling

Helpjuice’s knowledge base software is exactly what hybrid teams of all sizes need to keep employees on the same page — both in the immediate sense and as an organization.

With Helpjuice, hybrid teams can:

  • Collaborate in real-time directly within knowledge articles from anywhere
  • Publish multiple versions of knowledge content for different teams and team members
  • Provide or restrict access to certain documents and files for security purposes

…all while building a comprehensive knowledge base for all team members to refer to at any moment while on the job.

Want to learn more? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Helpjuice today!