Not everyone will be heading back to the office full-time after a year of working from home. While some people will continue to work remotely full-time, others will work under a “hybrid” model — working part-time in the office and the rest of the time elsewhere.
Almost two-thirds of employers have planned to introduce or expand a mixture of remote and on-site working, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). A survey of 2,000 employers found 63% intend to boost “hybrid working” to improve working lives post-pandemic.
Research suggests the majority of would-be office workers would prefer a mix of office-based and remote working post-pandemic. Of a poll of 1,000 workers by The Adecco Group UK and Ireland, 77% of UK employees said a “hybrid” model of working would be ideal, with 79% adding that more flexibility is important.
However, it can be tricky to manage your schedule when you’re working from two locations. So how can you make it work?
“The main difficulties with managing a hybrid schedule is matching up your schedules with that of your colleagues, coworkers and employees,” says Will Capper, found of the job search firm DirectlyApply.
“It can be difficult to plan your timetable so that you are in the office at the same time as other employees and colleagues who you need to sit down with, face to face. Furthermore, if you manage staff, you also need to be on top of their schedule as to when they are going to be in the office.”
If you are customer-facing or have client meetings, managing your schedule can be difficult when having to allow for cancellations or postponements of meetings beyond your control.
“If you are only in the office for a couple of days a week, it might take another week or more before a meeting with a prospective or existing client can be rearranged,” says Capper. “This could lead to missed opportunities or allow a competitor to challenge and step in on your client relationship.”
How to make hybrid work for you
Firstly, it’s important that employers support their staff with learning and training on remote-friendly best practices.
“It is not enough for employers to assume a transition to a hybrid schedule will work smoothly without any additional effort,” explains Capper. “For most organisations, it will be a huge cultural shift and therefore employees must press their employers to help establish best practices to manage this. This includes a company-wide policy on diary management as well as a rule on core hours for those days when employees are in the office.”
It is also important for people working on a hybrid schedule to plan their days in the office much more rigidly than they would have done previously in a 100% office culture. You can't expect to catch up with people on an ad-hoc basis so this means you must think about the structure of your office-based days and ensure you set up meetings with co-workers and managers in advance. Tech can be really helpful when organising your schedule.
“Using your company calendar is paramount, but you can also use other apps such as Woven, which as well as a calendar also includes an analytics tab,” Capper says.
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When you are in the office, good communication with those working remotely is key. If you’re in a meeting and some people are video-calling in, it’s important to make sure they can see and hear everyone physically present. Any extra comments that occur off the record need to be reported to those working from home, so they don’t miss anything important.
“Informal conversations that happen in the office that aren't then shared with remote colleagues can end up completely undermining team and even company-wide communications,” says Capper.
Prior to the pandemic, many of us took working alongside others for granted. We worked with headphones on, chatted via Slack and communicated by email, not realising we would soon be missing our co-workers.
“Making time to meet with co-workers, managers and employees is the most important consideration for your time when in the office,” says Capper. “There is no point in going to the office if you are going to shut yourself away from people. The more meetings and sit-downs you have in the office means the less time you have to spend on video calls when you are working remotely.”
But being in the office shouldn't just be focused on working and formal meetings. Having social coffee or lunch with your co-workers is important.
“When in the office, make a plan to grab a coffee or lunch with members of your team and try and plan wider social gatherings on a regular basis to allow everyone the opportunity to meet up in a more social setting,” he says.
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