Remote & hybrid work wisdom

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As companies incorporate hybrid work into their workflow, the question for many companies is what days to choose and how to choose them. The best hybrid work days selected depend on company and team needs, but employee input is needed to make the hybrid approach work.

Once COVID shutdowns ended, many employees were loath to go back to the old days of 5 or more weekly commutes with proscribed 9-5 hour schedules. As some companies issue more rigid return to office (RTO) mandates, others are agreeing to hybrid work that allows employees to work out of the office some days while reporting in person for others.

Surveys show that employees prefer more remote days, so companies wonder how best to operate with hybrid schedules. How many days can employees work from out of the office? What days should they be? Should employees decide what days they are coming in, or should the company dictate the days to attend? How can the company ensure that people who need to meet in person are there on the same day?

Determinating the best hybrid work days may take some testing.

On hybrid work days, employees works independently

Deciding On The Best Hybrid Work Days

There are three main approaches to reconciling these issues.

Let employees pick. Most employees surveyed prefer Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to give them consecutive blocks of time both in the office and at home. Employers who don’t trust their employees may fear this will lead to hush trips and over-employment, where employees get additional full-time jobs. 

Let the company decide. The company may feel it’s their right to select the in-person days, but employees tend to be resentful if they have no say regarding their in-office days. The idea behind hybrid days is to encourage work-life balance, so removing any element of choice is equivalent to no choice! Employees are not responding well to forced RTO plans.

Designate a core day or two every week or periodically for in-person work for all. Everyone must be there on designated days and let workers select whether they want to come in more days. This approach assures that other team members or bosses will be there at the same time. This prevents resentment from employees who commute to work only to find they spend the day Zooming with their supervisor.

Every company has its own dynamics and workflow, so the “best days” vary by company. 

Best Days For Onsite Work For Hybrid Workers

The recent At Work survey by Envoy shows that 50% of companies allow their employees to choose their own remote days. The number varies, although Stanford researcher Nicholas Bloom maintains that two days is ideal. 

The experts at HR Exchange Network summarize the common wisdom for choosing each day of the week as an in-person day.

Monday starts out the traditional work week and is when people are refreshed from the weekend and most productive. Some companies have found that it is a good day for teams to meet.

Tuesday, along with Wednesdays and Thursdays, are “peak office face time days,” according to The Wall Street Journal. However, for work best done independently and productively, Tuesday is the day many choose to work remotely.

Wednesday, or “hump day” in a traditional work week, is the most popular day for people to come into the office. So many people come in on Wednesday that a new trend in HR is to change up the layout of offices to give people places to come together to brainstorm in team meetings.

Thursday is often the day when bosses are on hand for one-to-one meetings for those who want to meet with senior leaders. It is both the “new Monday” and the last day of the work week as offices are often deserted on Friday.

Friday is frequently chosen for hybrid work, as few people like to come to work on Friday.

Both the number of days workers come to the office and the days they do so will depend on company needs and culture.

What are the best hybrid work days?

Hybrid Work Plans In Action

The best example of using core days for work attendance is Smuckers of Orville, OH. Developed by Chief People and Administrative Officer Jill Penrose, the Smuckers plan designates:

During two core weeks per month every month except December and July, when holiday and summer travel are utmost in many people’s minds:

  • Employees must come to work in person for six days during the two weeks
  • Employees can work in the office or at home during non-core times. 
  • The schedule is set in advance to accommodate those who have to travel long distances to reach the office.

Penrose’s plan balances corporate needs with employee preferences for remote work developed during the pandemic. Rather than force employees into a mold, Penrose recognized that “People have needs in their lives aside from the 9-to-5 parameters.” 

The plan recognizes and honors employee needs. The respect shown to employees has resulted in less turnover and the ability to hire talent out of the corporate geographic area.

Creating The Best Hybrid Work Schedule For Your Company

Finding the right hybrid work schedule for your company should incorporate the following 7 concepts.

1. Know and understand the preferences of your workers, both managers and employees.

Some workers like being in the office full-time, although Owl Labs found that 80% expressed a preference for remote days. In contrast, only 33% of employers want them to be remote or hybrid workers. The best hybrid plan considers employee needs based on their input along with corporate requirements. Employees are more likely to comply when they have been involved in decision-making.

2. Identify the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved.

This includes managers, employees, and HR and IT teams to ensure proper support for employees.

3. Combine the right mix of top-down and bottom-up policy.

Company needs should be balanced with employee needs on issues such as core work hours, remote work equipment, communication expectations, and security protocols. The proper in-office hybrid mix may vary by team.

4. Make sure teams collaborate to make sure that they are present for interaction.

Some work teams need personal interaction to function at their best. Smart companies analyze how much work needs to be done on-site, with others nearby to bounce ideas off. Meeting times should enable cross-cultural team members to collaborate even if they are not onsite.

Once the best hybrid work days are selected, team members can collaborate when they are in person and on site

5. Have the right tools and systems in place.

Before companies that have downsized their workspace, this means scheduling the room, communication, desk booking, and activities to promote community building. It also means that companies need to rely on appropriate tools to measure productivity.

6. Train managers and employees.

Learning to do hybrid work effectively requires training for both managers and workers in areas such as project management, communication, meeting deadlines, and adapting new tools. In 2020, remote and hybrid work was new to many people, and few guidelines were in place. Three years have produced plenty of data to show bosses how to manage and workers how to organize their time.

7. Evaluate progress consistently.

This is the only way to ascertain whether the hybrid work plan you have set up meets the needs of workers and their bosses. Utilize workplace analytics to see what you need to do to improve productivity and communication. 

Carol Farrish

Carol is a lifelong writer and marketing specialist who has worked remotely for over 15 years. She started doing administrative projects and customer service work part-time, but became 100% remote when her last brick-and-mortar job ended. Not only has working at home been flexible and interesting, but it has also exposed her to wonderful coworkers.

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