It’s hard to argue against the convenience of remote work. But connecting in person has benefits, too — and people are looking for a new working model that allows them to take advantage of both. That’s where a hybrid work schedule — blending remote and in-office work — comes in.
If you’re working with a hybrid schedule, you’re in good company. Nearly half of workers who can do so are embracing some form of hybrid work!
Hybrid work can bring you the best of both worlds, but it does have its own unique challenges. Here’s everything you need to know about adapting to hybrid work.
What is a hybrid work schedule?
A hybrid work schedule means you’ll work both in the office, and remotely over an average workweek.
Hybrid work is a simple concept, but it can look very different at different workplaces — and it’s not always easy to execute. Depending on your company, role, and industry, there are so many ways to bring these two working styles together.
Your employer might ask you to come in on specific days, or they might leave it entirely up to you. You might be expected to spend half your time in the office, or you might see your colleagues just a few times a year, for company-wide events and retreats.
However you choose to apply it, hybrid work seems to benefit both workers and companies. In 2021, research from McKinsey found that hybrid work positively impacted productivity and customer satisfaction, as well as employee engagement.
The 3 main work models
When, where, and how employees work can vary pretty widely from organization to organization. Some of this variation can be attributed to industry requirements (e.g. banks still need to offer in-person services), company culture, or simply personal preference. Hybrid work is just one of the three main work models you’ll find. Here they are in more detail.
Whenever you can work from home or anywhere else outside the office at least part-time, then you’re dealing with a hybrid work schedule. With some time spent in the office — usually for big meetings and important initiatives — and some time spent working remotely, this work model is easily the most flexible.
Full remote work can be great for completely decentralized organizations that don’t have a central office to operate from. With this work model, employers might make co-working spaces available to employees — or generally encourage them to meet up — but there’s no company office. This can be a great model for acquiring the best talent, no matter where they work from.
Fully in-office work
Many organizations still expect their employees to come to the office for 40 hours a week following a rigid 9-5 schedule. This can be great for promoting in-person collaboration, brainstorming, and other important initiatives. However, it’s not nearly as flexible as other models and doesn’t work for everyone.
Examples of hybrid work schedules
There are two main types of hybrid work schedules — fixed and flexible. Flexible schedules may offer you full autonomy, while fixed ones can be fairly rigid.
In general, most workplaces will be somewhere in the middle. You’ll likely have some flexibility, while still needing to follow certain rules.
Flexible hybrid schedules
In this type of hybrid model, you’ll be able to choose when you go into the office.
You may have a set quota of days to be spent on-premise, but you’ll be able to choose how you allocate them. Or, where you spend your work days may be completely up to you.
Even in a flexible hybrid setting, choosing where work happens will probably depend on more than just your mood. Often, you’ll want to coordinate your in-office time with others, for example coming in on the same day for an important meeting or collaborative project. Here are some examples of flexible hybrid schedules:
- Work from anywhere: Easily the most flexible hybrid schedule out there. Organizations that use this model give their employees total freedom as to when and where they work. Some employees might work in the office every day, some might never come in, but most will alternate between the two.
- Remote-first schedule: Companies using this model are geared towards remote work, meaning that their processes — and resources — are dedicated to making remote work as smooth as possible. While in-office work is supported by the company’s policies, it’s not the priority.
- Optional hybrid schedule: Similar to the work-from-anywhere model, employees can choose when and where they work. It can be a bit more restrictive, however, in that employees might be expected to set their preferences and availabilities ahead of time — either on a weekly or monthly basis — and stick to them.
Fixed hybrid schedules
Alternatively, your employer might designate specific days for you to spend working in-office. These days could be company-wide, or they could be specific to your department or team.
Even on your remote-first days, your organization might impose some form of structure. For example, they might ask everyone to be reachable and online between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, but give them flexibility outside of that window.
- Week-by-week schedule: With this model, the entire organization goes through a week of remote work followed by a week of in-office work. Employees usually aren’t able to choose when these weeks happen, as the choice is usually a top-down one.
- Shift work hybrid schedule: Not common in all industries, this model involves rotating groups that come into the office at different times of day. This could be due to restricted office space, in-person compliance requirements, or other prerequisites. An employee will typically work a half-day in the office and a half-day at home.
- Partial hybrid schedule: Under this model, each role has a different schedule. This is both to account for the requirements of getting a specific job done and each team’s preferences. Some employees might work fully remotely, while others are fully in-office. Other roles may have a bit more flexibility, too.
- Office-first schedule: These organizations prioritize in-office work for all teams, while allowing for some flexibility. They may offer one or more remote days a week, and even give employees the ability to choose which day of the week they work from home. Generally, though, people are expected to work in the office as much as possible.
Benefits of hybrid work schedules
Obviously, remote work can be very efficient. It reduces the time and money you’ll spend on commuting, maintaining a work wardrobe, and even grabbing coffee and lunches. It can also provide a better environment for skilled, highly-focused deep work — as long as your home is actually a calm, distraction-free environment!
Let’s dive into some of these benefits.
One of the biggest benefits of hybrid work is the flexibility. Some employees work better from home, while others prefer being in the office. By choosing when and where they work, employees can work at their best — and fit in the occasional doctor’s appointment.
More focus time
Working in an office can be distracting for some, making full-time office work far from the most productive way to work. But remote work isn’t necessarily right for everyone either. Hybrid work means you get the best of both worlds and can find the best environment to get maximum focus time.
This is more of a benefit for employers than employees, but you might still feel the advantages that come with it. If an employer doesn’t have to get office space for all their employees all the time, then they can get a smaller office, and focus more of that budget on things employees will actually use and appreciate.
It levels the playing field
Some employees are responsible for childcare full-time. Others really need an office space if they’re going to get anything done. Hybrid work lets employees work where and when it best suits them. That means some employees who might be disadvantaged by a typical in-office job with a 9-5 schedule will now be able to contribute at the same level as their colleagues — in a way that works for them.
Tips for making a hybrid schedule work
A hybrid work schedule can be a game changer, but it does take some getting used to. If you’re new to a hybrid schedule, here are some tips on making it work for you.
Match your work to your location
Whether you’re remote or in the office, try to choose tasks that are best suited to that location.
Usually, that would mean saving focused, solitary tasks for remote days, and using on-premise time for interpersonal work, like meetings and brainstorming. But that isn’t true for everyone, so be guided by your own preferences first!
For example, you might be more easily distracted at home, and enjoy the accountability of having your colleagues around. In that case, you might want to handle more challenging, deep-work tasks in the office.
Make sure you know what hybrid means at your company. As we’ve explained, a “hybrid work schedule” can mean wildly different things in different contexts.
To make sure you’re all on the same page, you should start clarifying these expectations during onboarding, or as soon as your workplace decides to try out this model.
Together with your team or manager, get clear on questions like:
- Is your hybrid schedule fixed, or flexible?
- Are there certain times you’ll need to be online and reachable?
- What about times when you’ll turn off notifications and focus on deep work?
- For what purposes will you use tools like Slack, Zoom, and email?
- Do you have flexibility only on where you work, or can you also adjust your schedule?
- What warrants an in-person (or even video) meeting? Will you confine meetings to certain days?
Rely on your calendar
Your calendar is so much more than a way to book meetings and appointments. In hybrid work environments, it’s one of the best ways to give your colleagues visibility into your schedule and make life easier for everyone.
Use your calendar to tell colleagues:
- When you’ll be in the office
- When you’ll be reachable and online
- When you’re in meetings
- When you’re doing deep work, and can’t respond to notifications.
Be proactive about keeping your calendar up to date. It’s the most direct way your teammates can see — and anticipate — where you’ll be.
Make time for connection
In hybrid workplaces, you need to be even more intentional about getting to know your colleagues and building strong, trusting relationships.
On days that you’re in the office, try to make sure your time isn’t too jam-packed. That gives you plenty of time for natural socializing, organic connection, and water-cooler conversations.
However, try to find time for connection on days you work virtually, too! For example, why not spend a few minutes at the end of each day catching up over Slack with casual, non-work chit-chat?
Use the right tools (at the right times)
A hybrid work schedule isn’t possible without technology like email, instant messaging, video-conferencing, and project management platforms.
But each of these tools has its own unique use case, and you’ll want to clarify that with your team.
For example, you might need to know:
- What kind of information should be shared quickly through Slack, and what warrants its own email thread?
- Under what circumstances will you turn on your cameras for a video meeting?
- Should you ask project-related questions as an Asana comment, or reach out to your manager by email?
Without clarifying these kinds of questions, hybrid work can get disorganized and confusing extremely fast.
Plan ahead for productivity
When you have limited time in the office (and at home), you’ll want to make the most of every hour. That means planning ahead, and giving yourself the conditions you’ll need to get your best work done.
If you’re working remotely, you might want to block out a few hours on your calendar for distraction-free, deep work time. Conversely, make your time in the office count by getting organized with colleagues beforehand, and deciding what you want to accomplish.
Make the most of meetings
Don’t let pointless, redundant meetings eat up all your in-office hours. Save meetings for active collaboration and group decision-making.
If you just need to share information, save some time and make it an email instead.
Keep a routine
Whether you’re working in your living room, in a boardroom, or even by the beach, a routine will keep you centered and ensure you’re doing your best work.
Try to come up with workday routines that you know you can rely on, whether you’re remote or on-premise that day. For example, the right morning routine get you in the zone, and the right evening routine can help you relax and actually disconnect from your workday.
The hybrid work schedule: the best of both worlds
Getting used to a hybrid schedule can be an adjustment. But if done right, it can truly help you do your best work, grow professionally, and build stronger workplace relationships.
The key is to protect your time, respect your coworkers, and know what it takes for you to work best. With a little planning, self-reflection, and open communication, you might find that you never want to go back to an exclusively remote or in-office model.