Post-pandemic hybrid work schedules are appealing because they offer the flexibility to work from the office on some days, and from home (or anywhere with internet) on others. At the same time, hybrid schedules can complicate your weekly routine in a few ways, from forcing you to share a “hot desk” in the office to figuring out a workable childcare schedule. So if you’re hybrid working, how can you make sure nothing falls through the cracks?
What could a hybrid work schedule look like?
What a hybrid schedule looks like will really depend on your employer. It’s not going to be the same everywhere, and policies are likely to be tweaked as organizations adjust. Still, there are certain scenarios that you can expect:
- Some workplaces will designate days when all employees must work from the office. This is considered an office-centric hybrid model. In this example, you might come into the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and have the option to work remotely the other two days.
- Other employers might offer a home-centric hybrid working option with more flexibility to work remotely. In this setup you will primarily work from home, perhaps coming into the office once a week for face-to-face meetings.
- If employees will be spending significant time at home, organizations may switch to more communal work areas rather than personal spaces. Shared “hot desks” used by employees on different days or shifts could replace traditional desks.
Be aware of the potential challenges of a hybrid work schedule
Flexibility sounds great, right? A hybrid schedule could be perfect for meeting some employees’ needs, but it does come with unique challenges for others.
- If your version of a hybrid schedule has you working primarily from home, you may not find the communal setup ideal on your days in the office. You will probably have to share a hot desk or even move around to different locations. This means that you can’t leave personal items in the office and you will have to be comfortable with a little bit of uncertainty about where you’ll work from one day to the next.
- If you’re going to be based primarily in the office, you’ll still need a practical home office setup for days when you’ll be working remotely. This could mean that your pandemic workspace at home will have to remain as is for the time being. Great if you have the space, but problematic if you’ve been struggling in close quarters.
- For those with young children, a hybrid schedule offers pros and cons. On the one hand, you could have days where you see your kids more than if you were in the office. But it will only work if you can successfully schedule blocks of time in the day to work. Not everyone has the budget for five days of childcare, and if you’re only looking for help on certain days, it can be harder to find.
Tips for sticking to a schedule when hybrid working
- Determine what work can be done most effectively in the office, and what can be done from home. Consider which tasks you’ve been able to do most successfully from home, and which have been more of a struggle. You may want to schedule your more collaborative work and meetings on in-person days, leaving solo tasks like writing and research for your WFH days.
- There are plenty of mobile-friendly apps to help keep you organized so you can stick to a new and potentially complicated schedule. Work-life balance can actually be harder to achieve on the days when you’re working from home, so be aware of the need to set boundaries and really log out at the end of the day.
- Keep a designated work bag with all your supplies that is easy to take to and from the office. Think about everything that you might need, from tech items like your laptop, headphones, and chargers, to essential documents. And even if your organization has a good plan for implementing safety measures, don’t forget your preferred sanitizing products.
- If you live with someone else who is hybrid working, see if it’s possible to coordinate your schedules so that you each have a quiet workspace at least part of the time. If you need to arrange for childcare, look into sharing a nanny or babysitter with friends or neighbors who have compatible schedules.
No matter what your hybrid working situation looks like, there’s bound to be a learning curve. Being prepared for changes in the workplace and learning to stick to a schedule can set you up for success.
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Lakshmi Hutchinson is a freelance writer with experience in the nonprofit, education, and HR fields. She is particularly interested in issues of educational and workplace equity, and in empowering women to reach their professional goals. She lives in Glendale, California with her husband, twin girls, and tuxedo cat.