As more and more offices across the country begin to open back up, many workers will have the opportunity to plan out their new working style. That could mean jumping right back into working from the office full-time, or working 100% remotely — but, for most, the future looks like a mixture of the two. In fact, this hybrid work model may be the ultimate compromise for employees and companies moving forward.
According to the Pew Research Center’s findings from December 2020, over 50% workers would like to continue teleworking post-pandemic. In fact, nearly 64% of workers said they would feel uncomfortable returning to the office should it open in Nov. 2020. Further, most workers — 60% — cited a preference for working from home, even if their workplace was available.
A lot has changed over the succeeding months, of course, with vaccinations on the rise — 46.2% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated as of June 24 — and many states easing their COVID-19 restrictions and reopening. As such, companies have begun to reopen as well, with chief executives lamenting remote work in favor of in-office teamwork.
Despite many companies pushing to return to the office, it’s the employees, however, who seem to have the final say. Based on a May 2021 Bloomberg survey of 1,000 U.S. workers, 39% said they would consider quitting their roles if employees weren’t open to remote or at least hybrid work, with that number rising to 49% for millennial and Gen Z workers.
So, what exactly will the future of the work schedule look like? For many, it will likely involve a hybrid work set-up, with a split between days spent in an office and days spent at home. For those of you fortunate enough to have this flexibility, here are considerations to help balance your time as you jump back into the workplace and create your new hybrid work schedule.
Assess what you can best do from each office space.
While you’ve likely been working from home exclusively since March 2020, you now will have to determine what this new hybrid work schedule calls for. How will you divide your work between home and office?
Being back in an office setting will be odd, yes, but it may also give you more insights as to what exactly you can do from your office versus your WFH set-up. Do you need to present specific presentations in person, or work with your team on collaborative projects from the office? In your home office space, can you focus on those more routine items, like submitting time reports, financial spreadsheets, and one-on-one meetings with other staff members?
Once you can better determine what you can and should do from home versus in the office, you’ll be better able to plan out your hybrid work schedule. That schedule may still look different from week to week or month to month, but it will be a much more helpful demonstration of how you can get everything done efficiently and timely.
Communicate your plans with your team.
Hybrid work can mean different things to different employees. Do you want to go in to the office only twice per week, or more frequently? Are you perhaps aiming to spend a certain day every week working from home, or shifting your hours to have more time with your loved ones?
Ultimately, you want to ensure that your team, whether small or large, knows what your plans are. Do they specifically need you in-office for certain meetings, or hope to have virtual meetings with you every morning? You want to be able to coordinate with your team for specific high-intensity projects and collaborative activities that need to take place in the office, such as project kick-offs or brainstorming sessions with higher-ups. Bernard Borowski, senior advisor at Digital Lean & Data Advantage, told LinkedIn in January 2021 that leaders must “foster ways of communicating between employees as would happen in the normal office setting.”
So before any of you even plan to go back to the office, ensure that you communicate what is expected and what scheduling plans will benefit the entirety of the team. For more on what your hybrid team could look like, read through our list of key points for the potential challenges and benefits of what’s to come with the new hybrid model.
As much as you have it in mind for what your hybrid schedule could look like, that may not be what works for your entire team.
Again, you want to provide open and honest communication with your team as to what you hope for your own hybrid schedule, and what their goals are for their own schedules. As such, you may need to be a bit more open and flexible with what the coming weeks and months could look like. For instance, if you have teams that are now spread across the country or across the world, a Monday meeting at 9 a.m. may not work for everyone. To help organize meetings across different time zones, global teams can use tools like Every Time Zone.
Schedules can change over time, so don’t feel beholden to this specific schedule for the rest of your work-life in this position. Continue to check in with your team, supervisors and upper management in routine meetings to discuss what is and isn’t working, and stay open for other options that could lead to more success and productivity. For a successful example, check out how online Jigsaw maker I’m A Puzzle was able to increase productivity with flexible working hours.
Invest in yourself and your office space.
As offices across the country begin to open back up and you find out if you’ll be working from two spaces for the foreseeable future, it’s important to acknowledge what you need to succeed in each location. You may have really missed using your double monitor from your office while working from home, or are finicky about working from a sitting position rather than your previous standing desk.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to plan out what your home office space should look like so it can best emulate the environment you thrived in at the office. Connect with your supervisor and discuss what options you have available for purchasing certain items for your home office. Are you planning to work from home more than two or three times a week? If so, you may be able to find better funding to support that space. If you’re only aiming to work from home once per week or on the rare occasion, you may have a smaller budget to work with — but you should plan to make the space as functional as possible even if you’re limited on expenditures.
Depending on your space and budget, take stock of those higher-priority work from home essentials — say, a standing desk or noise-cancelling headphones — as well as those extras that also cost less — a whiteboard calendar, for example. To spark inspiration, you can look through our list of some of the best work from home gadgets that will help you excel through 2021 and beyond.
Find new tools to stay on top of both WFH and WFO.
Just as you learned when you first started to WFH at the start of the pandemic, there are different tools needed for remote work in comparison to working in an office. Now, with the hybrid model, you want to guarantee that you aren’t missing out on any tools or programs in one location over the other.
Do you need to have different video conferencing software at home versus at the office? How will you run your hybrid meetings? What collaboration tools will help your team stay connected while working from distributed locations? To find solutions for all of these questions, check out our guide to the top remote-work tools that will help you achieve your work goals from both offices.
Bonus tip: Hive is one of the best tools for hybrid teams that need to manage tasks, collaborate virtually, and keep all work in one centralized location. You get started with a free 14 day trial here.
Ultimately, creating your optimal hybrid schedule will take time to perfect, so don’t pressure yourself too much to get it right ASAP. There are many tips and tricks — and tools! — out there that can help you master your hybrid work schedule, so do your research and discuss with your coworkers what you hope to achieve first and foremost.