The Best Hybrid Work Schedule is Set by Employees, Not Managers


Max Shepherd-Cross


November 26, 2021

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In your search for the perfect hybrid work schedule, you’ve likely come across three to seven different types of hybrid remote schedules for your team. But if you look closely, there are only two approaches to setting up your hybrid work schedule: employee-led or manager-led.

The former method provides complete flexibility for employees to pick their work-from-home days, while the latter method implies managers mandate specific days.

Manager-led hybrid remote schedules are usually one-size-fits-all (for example ‘everyone needs to be in the office on Tuesday and Wednesday’), which doesn’t work because employee needs and productivity requirements vary widely. For employees to enjoy the perks of a hybrid work model, they also need the autonomy to set their own work schedule.
Employee-Led Hybrid Work Schedules Benefit Both Employees and Companies Employee-led hybrid work schedules allow employees to take advantage of the two main benefits of hybrid work—greater productivity and increased work-life balance.

Let’s zoom in further on the benefits of the employee-led hybrid work schedule.

Offers Autonomy Most Employees Crave

Employee-led hybrid work schedules allow employees to choose their work-from-home days, and most employees crave such control over their schedules.

As one hybrid-working study of over 5,000 knowledge workers found, at least 73% of employees preferred to work for a company that offered the flexibility to work from anywhere rather than the office. More importantly, 61% of employees said they preferred if management allowed team members to come into the office only when needed.

Boosts Employee Productivity

employee-led hybrid schedules boost productivity
Benefits of employee-led hybrid schedule

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Work productivity depends greatly on an employee’s work environment, and the only person that knows the perfect environment is the employee, not the manager.

Employees choose their work environment based on factors like the type of task they need to complete (collaborative vs. focused), personal preferences (introversion vs. extroversion), and distractions at their home or office.

For instance, a marketing manager might come to the office two days a week for meetings and brainstorming and prefer working from home on days that require deep work. On the other hand, a developer whose job involves mostly deep, focused work might prefer to come to the office on three days to avoid distractions at home.

Manager-led schedules cannot accommodate all of the factors that go into choosing the right work environment. So, their decisions may hinder employee productivity.

Encourages Work-Life Balance

Rigid office schedules often mean employees neglect important non-work-related commitments. With more control over when and where they can work, employees can plan work activities to accommodate life events too. Employees with a work-life balance are less likely to burn out and more likely to perform better at work.

Working parents might choose to work from home to accommodate a doctor’s appointment or their kids’ school function. Other employees might work from home for a day or two per week to save commuting time and accommodate a hobby or fitness activity.  

4 Tips to Effectively Manage Employee-Led Hybrid Remote Work Schedules

An employee-led hybrid work schedule might sound like a logistical challenge, as there’s no certainty around how many employees might come to the office on a given day. Majority-remote workers can miss out on social interactions and growth opportunities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you take the time to focus on these four tips.

Use Desk Booking Software for Office Scheduling

desk booking software for scheduling
Desk booking software

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Desk booking software like Officely helps employees book office spaces like conference rooms and desks in advance, so there’s no overcrowding or under-utilization of office space.

Desk booking also provides visibility for how often and when employees work in office and the spaces they use. This helps managers gauge office space requirements and also track employee attendance with respect to their individual schedules.

Office managers sign up employees for a desk booking app, and from there, employees can choose the days they’ll be in office and the space or desk they’ll use. Apps like Officely also allow employees to see other employee attendance on a given day and plan collaborative activities accordingly.

Schedule Weekly or Monthly Office Days for Social Interactions

social interactions while working hybrid
Social interactions at work

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Social interactions at work help foster work friendships, which boost employee happiness. Designating certain days in a week or month as in-office days helps employees interact and bond with their colleagues on a regular basis.

On in-office days, organize social activities like a cooking class, bake-off, and games to boost employee interactions.

If you have employees who work fully remote, don’t force them to come to the office. Instead, be proactive and communicate with them to understand their preference. It’s possible they find the office environment too distracting or are dealing with toxic behavior at work. Address issues like bullying at work to make your office environment more welcoming.

Make Hybrid Meetings the Norm for Maximum Flexibility

Mandating in-office presence for meetings is as good as imposing a hybrid schedule on employees. Hybrid meetings allow employees to dial in from home, too, so they don’t have to check in to the office every time there’s a meeting.

The setup of your hybrid meeting might depend on how many employees are in the office at a given time. If more employees are in office than remote, hold the meeting in a conference room with a large screen that shows remote attendees. On the other hand, if more employees are remote, it makes sense to have everyone dial in separately from their computers. Some teams choose virtual meetings, irrespective of office presence, to reinforce their hybrid approach.

For more tips on hybrid meetings, read our guide on running better, hassle-free meetings in a hybrid workplace.

Take Measures to Provide Equal Opportunities to Employees, Irrespective of Office Preference

Employee-led hybrid schedules imply some employees will inevitably spend more time in office, while others work from home more often. Studies also show more face time with managers leads to better outcomes for employees. Thus, managers need to be more mindful of promoting fairness at work while implementing an employee-led hybrid schedule.

Here are some tips:

  • Announce new work opportunities on public channels like company Slack groups or company email updates.
  • Open public channels on Slack (or your company’s communication tools) to ask for feedback and brainstorm ideas for new projects. This lets remote employees participate and contribute equally.
  • Track employee promotions in relation to how often the employee comes to the office. Be sure employees aren’t getting promoted simply because they spend more time in the office.
  • Replicate training in virtual formats, too, so remote employees can access it. For instance, allow sales reps to shadow senior reps on sales calls virtually or host virtual editing workshops for remote employees.

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Employee-Led Hybrid Work Schedules, Not Just Hybrid Work, Are Key to Employee Retention  

You’ve likely read about the Great Resignation in America, where 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in 2021. While economists and experts speculate different reasons for this phenomenon, it’s likely the flexibility workers enjoyed due to the pandemic and remote work has a role to play here.

Employees in one post-pandemic survey said they would consider quitting if their role didn’t allow them to work remotely. Another survey found that one-third of employees would likely quit if forced to come back to the office full time. Employers are reading the signals correctly by adopting hybrid work, but it’s not just the ability to work from home that employees want.

As Gartner’s report found, workers globally value the ability to choose when, where, how much, with whom, and what work they do. Employee-led hybrid work schedules are a step toward providing such work flexibility to employees, and hence the key to employee retention.

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Max Shepherd-Cross

Max is one of the cofounders and CEO of Officely.

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