The way many of us work has undergone a few major shifts in the last few years. The start of the pandemic made huge numbers of people into remote workers suddenly, and now lots of companies are eager to get those remote employees back into the office.
So what does the future of work hold? Well, for many employers (and employees) it’s a hybrid work schedule, where you’re balancing time between working in the office and at home. Your workday or work week might be split between in-person events and remote work, as your employer and your life outside of work require.
Revolutionize how your hybrid teams collaborate and promote work-life balance for distributed teams with Cooleaf. Discover how our platform empowers seamless engagement, fosters team cohesion, and supports remote work success. Elevate your team's experience – explore Cooleaf now!
But of course, every employee has a different work style, a different set of responsibilities outside of work, and so a different ideal hybrid work schedule. If you’re new to creating your own flexible schedule, we’ve got the guide to help you find the one that works for you—where you get to do your best work and live your best life. Here’s what you need to know.
Understand your company’s requirements
Your employer likely has guidelines and policies in place on a hybrid work schedule. Understanding these requirements, such as working core hours or working in-office a certain number of days, is the first step to creating your perfect hybrid work model.
Don’t forget to check for team-specific policies as well, such as days your manager requires your whole team to be in-person or regularly-scheduled team building activities and all-hands meetings. In fact, hybrid work is transforming management as well as individual employees, so your manager might have some insights to share here as well.
Once you know what the required hybrid work policies are, you can begin to develop your own plan for maintaining work-life balance.
Know your own productivity bright spots
Everyone has their own unique working style and rhythm, and you can use this knowledge to your advantage when designing your schedule. Perhaps you do your best focused work in the quiet of the morning and when you’re working from home, or maybe you’re an afternoon thinker who finds it easier to concentrate in the office because you’re less distracted than when you’re at home.
Depending on how flexible your company requirements are, you can take your best working times into consideration when creating your hybrid schedule. If you know that you can choose whether to be in the office on Mondays or Tuesdays, and you need to get heads-down focused work done at the start of the week to get organized and feel on top of things, you could choose to work from wherever you’re most effective and schedule your office work around that.
The same goes if you have flexible hours—you can determine what time of day you feel most ready to take on deep focus tasks like writing or analyzing data, and which ones are more productive for admin tasks. Meetings where you’re brainstorming and collaborating require a different kind of energy and focus, and often are more effective when conducted in-person than over Zoom, so keep that in mind as well when creating your schedule.
Consider your career goals
If you’re looking to grow your career and move up in your department or advance in your role, it’s a hard truth—if you’re not getting facetime regularly in the office, you may lose out on valuable networking and mentoring experience that can help your career advancement. In many companies and industries, having at least some facetime can help you build necessary bonds with colleagues and leaders that will be the foundation of a successful career.
Asking your manager about opportunities and best practices for your flexible work schedule to maximize your networking is a good place to start. You can also coordinate directly with your fellow team members if your manager or company don’t dictate which days you must come in, so that you can communicate and collaborate in person as effectively as possible.
This way, you can get the best of both worlds through the hybrid work model—the flexibility and deep focus of the remote work days, and the face-to-face interaction and socialization of the office.
Factor in your personal life
Your personal life also plays a big role in creating a hybrid schedule that gives you great work-life balance. Are there days that you prefer to work from home because you can toss in a load of laundry and hit the grocery store on your lunch break to get ahead of errands for the weekend? Or days that you want to be in the office because you have a rec sports team practice a few minutes away or health and wellness programs you want to participate in? And of course, if you have young children or elderly parents to care for, their schedules are a factor as well.
And your personal life happens in the office as well! Are you craving some socialization with your favorite coworkers and most helpful colleagues, or looking for a deeper sense of belonging at work? Schedule some in-office days according to their schedule or with post-work social opportunities (like these fun workplace holidays) in mind.
On the other hand, if you prefer to avoid those work social events and don’t mind missing the networking opportunities there, you can design your week so you’re conveniently absent when those gatherings happen.
Write it all down
If you’re finding this kind of planning a little overwhelming, don't hesitate to write it all down! It might be helpful to sort out what tasks are part of your role and consider when you struggle to get them done, and where you thrive while doing them.
For example, a content marketing manager might need to complete some copywriting and content writing tasks, edit the work of her team, and keep up with project management tasks and manage a content calendar. Her team meets in the office every Wednesday and she can work remotely two days per week, so she decides to block off Tuesday and Friday mornings for her deep writing and editing work in her home office. She decides to work on-site on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursday to get collaboration time with her colleagues and schedules the rest of her work around these options.
Of course, you may have more or less flexibility in how, when, and where you can work. One of the many things the pandemic made clear is that we all thrive in different work environments. Someone with a small urban apartment might prefer to work in an office space more, and people with small children may find it easier to focus at the office. Others are more productive with remote work and find they do better work there. It’s all about discovering what works for you within the constraints of your company’s requirements and company culture.
How to thrive in your hybrid work environment
While it might not be easy to create the schedule that works best to enhance your workflow, your teamwork opportunities and networking, and your full personal life, the effort is well worth it.
And if you find your new work arrangements aren’t working well for you, don’t be afraid to flex and experiment to see what fits best. You can even check in with your manager if you find that a change in requirements, like a different day in the office, would help you deliver better work quality and also better work-life balance. (If you’re a manager, this kind of flexibility is a great way to keep employees motivated and engaged so they can do their best work!)