The future of work for many people is in a hybrid workplace — where some work is done at home, and some is done in the office. In fact, more than 39% of global knowledge workers will be in a hybrid work arrangement by the end of 2023, according to Gartner.
But though they all fall under one common term, there are nearly as many kinds of hybrid work models as there are companies. And finding the right one for your business and your employees can feel overwhelming — how do you know which one will be best for employee productivity levels and wellbeing at the same time?
There’s no easy answer here, but looking at several of the most common types of hybrid work schedules can inspire your own work arrangements. We’ll cover the five most popular types of hybrid schedules with examples of how each one works, and what HR leaders need to know about purposefully creating culture in a hybrid workplace as well.
The first four schedule examples are all cohort schedules, meaning they follow a common rule that the company or manager sets as one group. The final example, however, is individually-driven: each employee gets to choose for themselves where (and often when) they work. Both types have their benefits — it’s truly about what works for your unique company.
1. Three Days On-Site, Two Days Remote
One of the most common hybrid schedules right now has employees in the office three days per week, with two remote days. It’s in vogue because it gives teams plenty of facetime and collaboration time together while also allowing the flexibility of two days of the week at home.
The most popular days for in-office work right now are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, according to SHRM. It’s not ideal to be extremely rigid with the days employees need to be in the office, for example making them all come in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, because that takes away some of their autonomy which is critical for employee engagement.
And it lessens one of the major benefits of hybrid work environments — flexibility — if they’re packing up to come in every other day instead of determining alone or together what works for them and the team.
If your employees would prefer more time working remotely, you can easily flip this schedule to be remote for three days and in-office for two, but if you choose that path you’ll certainly want to coordinate closely with the whole team or department to make the most of the in-person time together.
2. One Set Day On-Site, Remote or In-Person Otherwise
If your company has a stronger preference for remote work but still wants the benefits of regular in-person collaboration, you can offer a more flexible option. The whole company decides on a set day for office work — perhaps it’s Thursdays —- when everyone is required to be in the office.
This allows the company to conduct the kind of work that functions better in person, such as 1:1 meetings, brainstorming, onboarding, and strategy and planning. It also offers all employees the flexibility to arrange the rest of their weeks as they like, whether that means remote work to avoid a long commute or coming into the office because they live in a small space.
3. Team-Driven Days
Instead of taking a top-down approach to hybrid work schedules, you can also allow each team to determine how many days they’d like to be in the office per week and which specific days those will be, to allow for both teamwork and flexibility.
This offers each team the flexibility to set their schedules according to the kind of work they do — for example, your marketing team might want more time for face-to-face meetings for creative work, while your finance team prefers the increased focus they get from remote work so they choose fewer in-office days.
You can set some loose guidelines for these schedules, like requiring at least one day per week in the office, but avoid anything too rigid as that takes away from the autonomy this kind of schedule offers to your team members.
4. Staggered Schedules
Sometimes, it’s simply not feasible to offer all your employees a lot of flexibility in where they work because you need office coverage, especially if they work in a customer-facing role. In that case, staggered schedules can offer a mix of the benefits of some remote work while also ensuring you have enough people in the office at all times to cover customer needs.
For example, a dermatologist’s office needs to have staff in-person at all times, so you could schedule staggered shifts to ensure coverage while allowing team members to work remotely the rest of the time to complete paperwork and conduct remote appointments as needed.
5. Flexible Scheduling
Finally, if it’s feasible for your company, you can offer employees the flexibility to work where they determine is best for them. That means five days per week in the office if they choose, or just one, or a schedule that changes on any given day or week depending on their workload and tasks. This gives them the ultimate control over their work-life balance, which is great for employee engagement and employee satisfaction.
However, this kind of flexible work arrangement does come with some logistical concerns around office space, particularly if yours is small because your employees are remote much of the time. You might need to implement a desk reservation system so that employees know they’ll have a place to sit when they decide to come into the office.
Best Practices for HR Leaders to Maintain Culture in Hybrid Workplaces
Maintaining a cohesive and engaging company culture when in a hybrid work environment is a challenging task for many HR leaders right now. But it can help to look at why employees value being in the office — 49% of workers see the office as more of a social space than they used to, especially for more collaborative tasks.
A great hybrid work culture ensures employees can use their in-office days to collaborate, network, build bonds, and even socialize, while also weaving their personal life seamlessly into their work one with remote days.
To make your hybrid work policy as effective as possible, be sure to be very clear when communicating expectations for your employees. They should know precisely what’s expected of them so they can plan their work and personal lives accordingly.
It’s also good to proactively communicate the decision-making process that went into your hybrid model from leadership — why, for example, have your executives determined that everyone must be in the office three days per week and not two? That doesn’t mean every employee will agree with your decisions, but it does treat them like the competent professionals they are instead of simply handing down a decision.
Finally, make sure that the connections people make at work feel purposeful, especially in-office work. Mandatory office time won’t feel purposeful if employees are made to commute into a half-empty office where they still have all their meetings on Zoom and their project discussions on Slack, which they could be doing from home.
The pandemic showed everyone which kinds of roles and work could truly be done remotely, and employees won’t forget that lesson soon. But many also value what the office offers more now, even though they don’t want to be there full-time in most cases.
Coming up with the right hybrid work schedule for your company must take these new factors into account, which certainly isn’t easy, but these examples can provide you with ideas to make your own. You can provide more flexibility and a great employee experience at the same time with a thoughtful strategy in place — good luck!