How to Efficiently Schedule Employees Within a Hybrid Workplace Environment?
Work-from-home culture or remote working is not a new concept. Even before 2020, many large enterprises used to manage their globally dispersed workforce with the help of the best scheduling software. But, after the Covid-19 outbreak, the work-from-home culture became more prevalent due to lockdown mandates, self-isolation and fear of getting infected. Precisely, the pandemic caused a more significant shift to the work-from-home culture, which later became part of the "new normal."
After the second quarter of 2021, when the pandemic subsided to a certain extent, the companies began re-opening their physical office spaces. For some businesses, the idea is to gradually move to the traditional work environment, i.e., full-time from the office. At the same time, the modern companies decided to follow a smart and more careful transitioning approach by implementing hybrid working arrangements, which offers a mix of working from home, office and onsite.
Currently, when the new variant of Covid-19 - Omicron gets uncontrollable, the companies that have already got accustomed to hybrid work models have successfully kept their employees safe and simultaneously gained sustainability and profitability of the business. With this ongoing global pandemic, the most convenient and popular working methodology most organizations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and many others have brought into practice is - the hybrid working model.
What is a Hybrid Working Model?
The hybrid working model is a mixture of in-office, onsite, and remote working schedules. This modern approach towards working schedules allows employees the flexibility to choose from where and when they want to work. That means employees can perform their tasks from the office or home, or any other remote location at their own pace. This type of working arrangement is beneficial for the employees, but it has also helped companies implement an employee-friendly work culture, avoid overcrowding in the workplace, and maintain social distancing as per the Government mandates in this pandemic situation.
As per the Mckinsey survey, 52% of employees prefer hybrid work schedules in the post-pandemic era compared to 30% in the pre-pandemic era. The reason behind this growth in hybrid work model preference is - the employees are loving the flexibility of working from anywhere and any time, and at the same time employers benefit too by better being able to engage their employees and improving their performance.
(Source: Mckinsey survey)
Benefits of Deploying Hybrid Working Model
Increase Productivity - With the increased flexibility in time and place of work, the employees feel more happy and satisfied with their jobs resulting in a positive impact on their productivity.
Reduce Overheads - With fewer employees coming into the office every day, the companies can cut down on overhead costs like rents, office supplies, water, electricity bills, etc.
Improve Collaboration - Unlike work from home culture, the hybrid working model allows face-to-face meetings and brainstorming within the office premises, causing better collaboration and team building.
Lower Mental Stress - Commuting every day to work, especially if the office is located far away, is stressful for many employees. The hybrid working model has reduced the stress level of the employees and contributed towards their improved mental health.
Ensure Health Safety - Working partially from home and office means less commuting and decreased chances of getting exposed to the virus and infections. For organizations, the health and safety of the employees is the topmost priority to establish a well-organized culture.
Hire Across the Globe - Many times finding the right talent for certain skilled jobs becomes difficult. Following a hybrid work schedule in which some employees are working from office/onsite and some from remote locations can help hiring the right talent across the globe.
Retain Top Talent - As per GoodFirms' survey, 70% of HR managers cited a lack of flexibility in work schedules and place as the most significant reason for resignations. The hybrid work model has been proven to successfully provide flexibility options demanded by the employees and helped in retaining top talent within the organization.
(Source: GoodFirms' Survey)
The companies and employees can enjoy the benefits of a hybrid workplace environment only if an efficient schedule is followed. Thus, understanding the different variations in hybrid work models as given below becomes critical to design a perfect schedule for your employees that enables you to achieve required productivity and, at the same time, is acceptable to your employees.
Below is each hybrid work model explained in detail:
Schedule-Based Hybrid Working Models
Split-Day Model - Some employees prefer working specific hours from the office and the rest of the time from home. Especially when meetings and collaborations are required for a particular time in a day, this hybrid model best suits the organization and employees.
Split-Week Model - Scheduling employees for some days of the week to work from the office and the rest of the days from home is the most popular hybrid work model. Many employees and companies follow this as it helps better collaboration and prevent overcrowding.
Task-Based Hybrid Working Model
Some critical jobs require the presence of the employees in the office or onsite. In contrast, many tasks can be easily done from home or any other remote location. For example, engineers working in a construction company are required to visit onsite projects, whereas back-office workers can conveniently work from home. In this scenario, the companies need to create schedules for onsite and remote employees accurately.
Decision-Based Hybrid Working Model
Hybrid Work Schedule Decided by Employees - In this hybrid working model, the employees are privileged to decide when to work from home and from the office. This can result in happy and satisfied employees but can be a problem in collaboration and teamwork.
Hybrid Work Schedule Decided by Managers - The managers decide who will work where and when in this scenario. This hybrid work model leads to better teamwork and collaboration as the managers can shuffle the employees' shifts based on when they are required to be present in the office physically.
There is no one-size-fits-all situation when selecting a hybrid working model. Many companies are likely to design a customized hybrid working model that combines two or more options mentioned above to achieve their specific goals.
For example, many businesses require only top management level employees to remain present in the office during specific days of the week for critical decision-making tasks. In that case, companies can go for a blend of hybrid work models based on tasks assigned to the employees and their selected work timings.
In an ideal scenario, managers properly plan and customize hybrid work schedules considering company policies and employees' preferences to help businesses gain desired outcomes in terms of productivity and revenue growth.
Irrespective of the type of hybrid work model chosen, employees and managers might encounter several challenges while designing and implementing hybrid work environments within their organization. Companies that do not address those challenges are likely to create conflicts within the workforce and possibly lose the top talent to those who have successfully executed their hybrid work schedules.
As we all know, the Hybrid work model has been analyzed and polished for the past two years like never before, as several organizations are not accustomed to hybrid work arrangements that involve employee concerns and organization concerns. Several still struggle and grapple.
Challenges of Implementing Hybrid Work Model
Implementing a hybrid work model practically in an organization can lead to communication barriers among the employees and increase the chances of errors in delivering products and services to the customers. Moreover, the communication gap between leaders and team members can further motivate and diminish productivity. This can have a negative impact on the revenue generation and growth of the overall organization.
Solution: The managers and leaders should continually schedule meetings and talk to their subordinates about their work schedules and how they cope with the pandemic situation. Mitigating communication gaps and implementing appropriate employee work schedules by using the right collaboration and communication tools can help overcome the challenge of a disconnected workforce within a hybrid workplace environment.
Dwindling Customer Experience
For service-based businesses, sometimes it becomes critical to attend to customers and solve their issues properly and at the right time. Due to the hybrid work schedule, the companies dealing with more walk-in customers might face the situation where the strength of employees is low within the workplace. This can lower down the standards in delivering customer service and create massive chaos.
Solution: Analyzing the client visits to the office space and coming up with an employee schedule plan accordingly can help in overcoming this challenge. Though this may not be as easy as it sounds to be, using the right analytical tools and best scheduling software can help maintain high customer satisfaction levels and improve the reputation of an organization.
Absence in Meetings
Suppose the company is following an employee-first approach while scheduling hybrid work schedules. In that case, there are chances that the employees involved in critical decision-making are working from home during the meetings held in the office. Because of this, many essential tasks get delayed and possibly lower the overall company's profitability.
Solution: One of the ways this challenge can be overcome is by scheduling the employees and meetings considering the business priorities and employees' comfort level. If that becomes difficult to manage, there are many video conferencing software available these days that can help you ensure the virtual attendance of the employees working from remote locations.
Underutilization of Workspaces
A dedicated office for a certain number of employees can get underutilized in the case of the hybrid work model. The rent costs and electricity bills remain the same whether all employees or half of them are attending the office physically daily.
Solution: A balanced work schedule and managing the shared workspaces can help overcome this challenge. Multiple departments working on different days of the week from the office can share a similar workspace and save on electricity bills and rental costs.
Access to Career Growth
In the case of hybrid working models, the management can get unconsciously biased towards the employees working from the office while introducing incentives and career advancements. There are chances that the employees working from the office get more performance appraisals than the people working from home.
Solution: The incentives and career advancements should depend on the overall performance of the employees. Many companies have experienced that the people working from home yield more productivity and have been more successful in achieving their targets than the employees working from the office. So, the management needs to carefully analyze the performance and introduce unbiased policies to retain a skilled and genuine workforce.
Increased Cyber Risks
There are chances of cyber attacks and data loss increasing when employees are working from changing locations and bringing their own devices into the office. The crucial company information can be at risk as hybrid work environments are more prone to data breaches and system hacks.
Solution: Proper security tools need to be deployed to bring hybrid workforce strategy into practice. A thorough understanding of the password strengths and vulnerabilities, a robust password management, multi-factor authentication, and regular training, and instructing employees to ensure the security of their devices and other digital assets within the organization is highly critical.
Undefined Working Schedule
The hybrid work model requires more clarity on the schedules of every employee than a work from home or work from office methods. Lack of defined working schedules in a hybrid work environment can create employee connectivity issues and even cause misunderstandings and communication breakdowns.
Solution: Every employee in the organization should have defined work schedules keeping various conditions in mind. A hybrid work environment doesn't mean the freedom to choose the workdays and timings all the time. Of course, the employees' choice in terms of work time and workplace plays a significant role here. Still, managers also need to implement proper work from home and office schedules for all the employees to ensure that the relevant team members meet in person and collaborate when required.
Precisely, managing a thriving hybrid work environment requires creating, fostering, directing, and nurturing constructive work culture in which people are working together at their convenient time from the place of their choice. For that purpose, efficiently scheduling employees within a hybrid workplace environment becomes extremely important.
If you are finding it strenuous to manage the schedules of employees working partially from home and office, perhaps the below-mentioned 10 proven practices can help you drive efficient scheduling decisions and ensure successful implementation of a hybrid working environment within your organization.
The 10 Best Practices to be Followed While Scheduling Employees Within Hybrid Workplace Environment
#1 Follow Company Policies and Priorities
Every organization has a defined set of policies in terms of the work schedules, task schedules, availability, meetings, in-house training, and other activities. . Following the company policies and priorities is essential for the employees. .
#2 Define and Communicate Goals Clearly
To keep hybrid work schedules running smoothly, it becomes necessary to define the goals like how many marketing calls are to be made or the number of support tickets to be solved in a day. Also, it becomes important to communicate clearly to the employees about which tasks need to be done from the office and which can be done from home. Working out loud allows employees to share knowledge, grow, and create a better work culture irrespective of whether they work from the office or from home.
#3 Use the Right Technology
Using the right technology helps employees to collaborate effectively, especially when they are working from different locations. Using well-featured applications for video conferencing, file sharing, scheduling, and communication can help your employees deliver expected productivity even in a hybrid working environment. For hybrid work environments, companies usually use cloud computing and AI-based applications these days as it becomes easy for the employees to share and access information on a real-time basis from any remote location.
#4 Stick to a Defined Work Schedule
Whether your hybrid work schedule is based on tasks or flexible timings, it becomes important to make your employees stick to a defined work schedule, at least for a particular time period. For example, if some of your employees work Wednesdays and Fridays from home, make sure that they stick to this plan consistently for some weeks unless there is no emergency. This way, there would be clarity on who is working from home on which days of the week.
#5 Inform Schedule Changes in Advance
If there is any modification in the schedule of any one of your employees, you need to inform the entire team in advance. The team members working together for a specific project within the office premises or remote locations should be aware of the absence/change in work timings of their colleagues in advance to prevent mismanagement, loss of time and productivity. .
#6 Setup Synchronous Communication Style
Encourage your team members to stay connected with their colleagues, reporting managers regularly, and clients for synchronized workflow, whether working remotely or in the office. Determining internal staff and external customer-facing communication modes is significant to create meaningful connections in hybrid work settings. Moreover, real-time and prompt communication always helps in preventing mistakes and misunderstandings.
#7 Train your Employees
Many employees might find it difficult to adjust to new tools and technologies to fit in the hybrid work culture. So, it is critical to train employees from wherever they are. Online training sessions imparting knowledge on the new tools will be highly effective and beneficial. Employees working from home can choose this facility. Those at the office can make use of the same tool and attend the sessions from their desk. In-person training can be made available upon demand. . Try to make your team members comfortable working with the new technology used for hybrid work settings and help them achieve their goals.
#8 Provide Equal Opportunities
Several companies work in such a hybrid work setting wherein some employees work full-time from the office whereas others work full-time from home. In that case, being biased towards the employees working from the office and providing them with better opportunities can demotivate the employees working from home for critical personal reasons. In that case, it becomes important to provide equal growth opportunities to the employees working from home and office as far as they perform as per the company's expectations.
#9 Upgrade Hybrid Work Practices Regularly
Continuously upgrading hybrid work practices is important for efficiently scheduling your employees in this new arrangement. Ask for the feedback of your employees working in a hybrid work environment, pay attention to their expectations and tweak your schedule accordingly to make it more employee-friendly, also keeping company benefits in mind. Your employees should not feel that a hybrid work schedule is being imposed on them, and they are not permitted to express their views. Thus, improvising hybrid work practices continuously with the changing demands of the employees is highly significant.
#10 Track and Analyze Productivity Accurately
Tracking employees’ working hours, productive hours, and attendance are critical for every employer as this helps in deciding on the pay package, minimize business loss, and be more organized. This can be easily tracked and analyzed by using the right time tracking tools like DeskTime, Intervals, etc.
Besides following the practices mentioned above, it also becomes vital to consider every employee's individual roles within the organization and their personal situations before setting up hybrid working schedules for them. Precisely, list down a few questions (like the below-mentioned sample) and solve them while creating hybrid work schedules for your employees -
- To what extent does a particular employee need to collaborate with other employees?
- What is the key role function of the employee, and how much information do they need to share with other employees?
- What is the employee's performance level while working from home and office?
- What does the employee prefer - full-day office, full day home, or hybrid working schedule?
- Is an employee feeling discomfort while working in a hybrid workplace environment?
- Is the employee involved in research-based jobs or transactional activities?
- Is the employee having clarification about the organization's goals and his or her role in accomplishing those goals?
- Is the employee frequently required to be present in the meetings held in-person within the office premises?
- Do the employee's personal situations allow them to work from the office partially after the pandemic?
Working in a mixed environment is the new normal now. Thus, it is very important to create an ideal hybrid work schedule that helps you establish a successful work environment that can yield productivity beyond expectations. Using the right scheduling software, video conferencing applications, collaborative solutions, and other technological innovations emerging every day, this new way to work can be beneficial for both the companies and the employees now and in the future. Ideally, creating hybrid-specific schedules can make your every endeavor a success regardless of where and when your employees are working. You can also go through these tips to set up a successful hybrid work model to efficiently schedule employees within a hybrid workplace environment.
Scheduling software is an automated system that helps individuals and businesses to manage their operations efficiently. It can help in scheduling appointments, maintain ... continue reading