Types of Hybrid Work Schedules: Which Works Best?

Types of Hybrid Work Schedules: Which Works Best?
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Is hybrid work the way of the future? Research from Future Forum suggests that 80% of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work. On top of that, 94% of employees want flexibility in when they work.

The solution? Hybrid work offers flexibility in where and when employees work. Flexibility can mean different things to different organizations, but one thing is clear—it’s top of mind for employees everywhere. 

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In How the Future Works. Brian Elliott, Sheela Subramanian, and Helen Kupp wrote:

“It’s not just something for younger employees or working moms. The desire crosses age, gender, race, and geographical categories. Even among executives, who expressed a preference for office work, a majority still valued their schedule flexibility. Because the vast majority of workers are asking for it might be reason enough to consider changing how you work, but it’s hardly the only reason. When done right, flexible work offers numerous benefits that can give your organization a real competitive edge.”

Whether you’re considering hybrid work due to its popularity, because employees are asking for it, the organizational benefits, or a combination of the above, this guide will help you take the steps toward implementing a hybrid work model.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What a hybrid work schedule is
  • What the benefits of hybrid work are
  • 3 types of hybrid schedules to consider
  • What to include in your hybrid work policy
  • 4 tips for helping your hybrid team succeed

What is a hybrid work schedule?

A hybrid work schedule combines in-office or onsite and remote models to create a unique and flexible working environment. Hybrid models let team members choose to work remotely, in-office, or a combination of the two (depending on an organization’s specific requirements). Think of a hybrid work schedule as a combination of pre-pandemic office camaraderie and the flexibility of remote work many workers experienced during and post-pandemic. 

What are the benefits of a hybrid work schedule?

According to research from Gallup, only 32% of remote-capable employees worked in a hybrid model. But there are many reasons why 83% of workers surveyed in Accenture’s Future of Work Study 2021 said they prefer a hybrid work model. Hybrid work models can provide the best of onsite and offsite working worlds. Some of the key benefits of a hybrid work schedule include:

1. More flexibility = employee happiness

Hybrid schedules offer the benefits of remote work and the opportunity to have face-to-face time with colleagues. This level of flexibility increases employee happiness in several ways. Research shows hybrid employees report greater work-life balance and mental health, more time for exercise, and are more inclined to stay with their company than peers working onsite or offsite full-time. Another report showed a 60% increase in work-life balance, and 54% reported better mental health. Results seem similar across the board: employers who offer hybrid work schedules help employees create space for personal responsibilities so they can be better employees.

2. Reduced operating costs 

Depending on the type of hybrid model your organization pursues, there’s an opportunity to downsize from a large office to a smaller one. Smaller offices also reduce utility bills, cleaning service expenses, snack stocks, and office supply costs. Or better yet, a flexible coworking space may be a more effective option for your organization. One report suggests employers could collectively save over $500 billion a year if they adopted a hybrid model in which full-time employees worked two and half days per week from home. 

3. Redefined collaboration

One of the biggest downsides of remote work is that collaboration can be challenging. When team members are in the office, they can quickly come together to brainstorm, exchange ideas, and share information unofficially. Remote work schedules give organizations a chance to redefine collaboration and work together in new ways. According to Gartner, employees have more collaboration options in hybrid work environments across location (distributed or colocated) and timespend (synchronous or asynchronous).

3 types of hybrid work schedules

There are many different forms of hybrid work, so you can choose a schedule that fits your team’s line of work and preferences while meeting organizational needs. Navigating the world of and terms surrounding hybrid work can be daunting, so we broke down the most common types of schedules and what you should know about them below.

Cohort schedules

In a cohort schedule, team members follow a common rule around where to work and when set by their manager or the broader organization. A major perk of cohort schedules is the regularity and consistency they provide as team members work in the office on certain days or weeks systematically. For example, in a 3:2 cohort model, an organization might have employees work in the office Tuesday through Thursday with the option to work remotely or from home on Mondays and Fridays. 

In addition to consistency, cohort schedules require minimal office management and coordination, as the expectations for teams or the entire company are the same across the board. Cohort schedules make planning ahead easy, so team members can coordinate in-person collaboration and meetings as needed. 

While cohort schedules provide some level of balance between working in-office and remotely, this type of hybrid schedule may not be suitable for all team members. Some employees may feel as though they can’t commit to a cohort schedule based on their responsibilities and commitments outside of work.

How Clockwise can help: Suppose your team adopts a cohort schedule, and you and your teammates will all be in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Perhaps your one-on-ones are spread throughout the week, but you’d prefer to conduct all of them in person on Wednesdays and Thursdays if possible. Clockwise’s finer controls for flexible meetings allow users to specify which day or days you’d like meetings to move to, so you can restrict your one-on-ones to Wednesdays and Thursdays only.

Flexible schedules 

Unlike cohort schedules, flexible schedules don’t outline hard rules on where and when to work. In many instances, team members hold decision-making power and the freedom to choose when they work remotely and in the office. Depending on the organization, flexibility might look like freedom to decide where to work each day, freedom to decide what hours to work each day or a combination of the two. 

Flexible scheduling can be a boon for organizations looking to downsize and reduce their physical office costs. Smaller safes usually suffice, and meeting room booking systems and desk reservation software can provide insight into space utilization. This type of hybrid schedule also supports employee happiness, allowing for autonomy over one’s work schedule. Transparent flexibility will enable employees to fulfill other responsibilities and commitments without the pressure of being in a specific location or online at a particular time.

While there are many benefits of flexible schedules, it can be challenging to bring team members together at the same time in person. Opportunities to spend time together may become few and far between. Another consideration is that if your organization chooses too small of a workspace, it may not be able to accommodate all of your team members who want to work in person on the same day. Planning and scheduling can be slightly more complicated when workers are controlling their schedules at the individual level.

How Clockwise can help: With Clockwise, you can sync your work and personal calendars, to stay organized and never miss a beat. Integrated calendar management can be valuable for organizations with highly flexible work models. In addition, the finer controls for flexible meetings feature allows users to specify which days they want to move their meetings, too, so they don’t have to spend time manually adjusting their schedules as things come up.

Staggered schedules

Staggered schedules closely compare to cohorts. A staggered schedule specifies which days team members should come to the office and what timeframes they need to be in the office. This is arguably the most rigid type of hybrid schedule due to its specificity and requirements. For example, let’s suppose a manager requires their team to come into the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On those days, the team lead assigns each member to come in for the 8:00 am - 1:00 pm schedule or the 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm schedule. 

This hybrid model works best for shift work and can ensure coverage over the span of a set timeframe. For example, this might fit a customer representative team that must field calls from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. It’s also beneficial for preventing overcrowding in office spaces and accommodating large organizations with small spaces for team get-togethers. Staggered schedules are predictable and pre-planned, so employers and employees know when to expect individuals to be in certain places and at what times.

Despite the predictability of staggered schedules, this model may not be ideal for all team members. The rigidity of this type of model can cause challenges and frustrations, particularly for workers used to working remotely full-time.

How Clockwise can help: Team members may want to avoid filling their calendars with meetings during their assigned in-office time on a staggered schedule. Finer controls for flexible meetings give team members more control over how they want to spend their time within their schedule. Clockwise also helps users protect their travel time, so team members can commute with ease and avoid meeting conflicts.

What should I include in a hybrid work policy?

No matter which type of hybrid work model you choose, a shift to hybrid work should include a hybrid work policy. Organizations should outline a policy that fits the needs and requirements of their company. Consider incorporating the following:

Your organization’s definition of “hybrid work”

As we walked through above, there are many approaches to hybrid work, so it’s crucial to define and outline the term for your organization or team. Your definition may be vastly different from an employee’s understanding, so it’s important to lead into the policy by aligning on what this looks like in the context of your current environment. In addition to the definition, consider explaining why your organization has adopted a hybrid working model. Strive to answer the following:

  • What is hybrid work?
  • What does hybrid work mean to our organization? 
  • Why are we offering this model? 

What your hybrid model looks like

Lay out the specifics and ground rules for your hybrid work schedule. Be clear on when you expect employees to be present in the office and when they can choose to work virtually (or who can provide them with this information if your organization will decide this at a team level). Include core working hours if it’s relevant to your structure. Be explicit and communicate what you expect from your employees. Questions to consider:

  • What does your hybrid work schedule look like? 
  • What day(s) will your team(s) work in the office?
  • When do you expect employees to be in the office versus working remotely?
  • What do you expect employee availability to be? 
  • Are you providing flexible work arrangements (e.g., flexible working hours with set core hours)? 

Pro-tip: If hybrid work schedules vary by team, consider creating team guides that lay out the specifics for each department and keep your company policy broad.

Eligibility

If hybrid work is unavailable for all employees, or employees only become eligible after reaching a set amount of time with your organization, lay out eligibility criteria in your policy. Include specifics around roles, teams, geographic locations, and time zones. If some groups are not eligible for a hybrid work schedule at all, explain your reasoning. 

Security and technology requirements

No matter when your employees work, it’s essential to have security processes in place. For in-office days, specify office access requirements and all procedures team members must follow for a secure experience. Include cybersecurity and computer access rules, clarifying any specific regulations employees must abide by when working from non-office locations. A hybrid work policy should also outline equipment policies to protect business information. Outline what company-owned equipment employees should use (if any) and how employees should use it.

Communication tools

Whether you choose a cohort, flexible, staggered, or a combination of schedules for your hybrid work model—communication is crucial to the success of hybrid work. Without constant and proper communication, workplaces can quickly become disorganized, and miscommunication can lead to frustration and confusion. Hybrid work policies can help avoid communication gaps by outlining communication standards for the team and organization. Details to consider adding:

  • Preferred communication tools for video calls and instant messaging 
  • Email etiquette and expected response times 
  • Meeting management and expectations 
  • Escalation processes for urgent matters 

4 tips for helping your hybrid teams succeed

If you’re ready to introduce a hybrid work model to your team or organization, here are some of our top tips to help you succeed. Don’t leave hybrid work up to fate—create a foundation, enable your team members, and watch the magic happen.

Create a transparent culture

Hybrid work is most effective when organizations prioritize and support transparency with one another. On days when team members are physically apart, their success as a team often depends on being able to count on and trust one another. At the same time, organization leaders must trust that employees are acting responsibly and meeting the expectations of their role (and address the ones who don’t). Increase transparency by blocking off time on your calendar for personal matters, PTO, travel, and Focus Time. Show up in the office and online as your authentic self to build stronger relationships with your colleagues. And create two-way feedback loops to gather and respond to feedback along the way.

Define clear priorities and goals

Without office time together, it’s easy to lose track of priorities and progress on individual and team goals. And with workers spread out amongst locations and workspaces, it’s essential to align on the highest impact work and create plans to guide teams towards success. Consider setting OKRs, or using the SMART goal-setting method.

Don’t burden your team with tools

Software tools are necessary for opening lines of communication in a hybrid workforce, but it’s important to keep the number of tools in your toolbox reasonable. Provide your teams with the right tools, but strike a balance between necessities and nice-to-haves to prevent overwhelm. For example, choose Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams when investing in a chat tool. Choose one videoconferencing tool, if possible, like Zoom or Google Meet. And identify one project management tool to avoid confusion around project status (we love Asana). 

Conduct meaningful 1:1s and team meetings

Hybrid work consists of a combination of asynchronous and synchronous communications, and since teams spend limited time together, they should make the most of it. Managers should focus on conducting meaningful one-on-ones and team meetings. Try scheduling one-on-ones and brainstorming sessions on days when team members will be together in the office as an added bonus. Don’t skip or cancel these meetings on remote days. Instead, find new ways to facilitate them and keep discussions engaging and interesting.

Going forward 

Hybrid work schedules offer a mixture of onsite and offsite work time, combining the benefits of flexibility with office camaraderie. The benefits of hybrid work include employee happiness, reduced operating costs, and new methods of collaboration. Cohort, flexible, and staggered schedules are all types of hybrid work models, each with pros and cons. Effective hybrid work policies should include definitions, scheduling details, eligibility criteria, security requirements, and communication standards. Transparency, clear priorities, work management tools, and meaningful meetings contribute to the success of hybrid workforces. No matter the structure of your hybrid model, Clockwise can help support your teams.

About the author

Alyssa Towns

Alyssa Towns a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes on a productivity and career-related topics for Insider, Clockwise, G2 and other publications.

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