How to Overcome The Pitfalls of a Hybrid Office

With 96% of US workers calling for hybrid schedules, it’s obvious that this new way of working is here to stay. Even the most reluctant offices are going to have to embrace flexibility to keep staff happy during ongoing labor shortages that aren’t turning out to be short-term.

But this flexibility still requires parameters. As employees alternate between working from home and putting in their hours on-site, it’s up to managers to take the lead and maximize resources so the hybrid environment works for everyone. Done well, hybrid can boost productivity and employee wellbeing. Done poorly, it can degenerate into a chaotic scramble of miscommunication and inefficiency, with spiky attendance patterns and a team that can’t work together easily.

4 Tips to help your team thrive in a hybrid workspace

1. Be smart about scheduling

Communication can be a friction point among hybrid workers, both online and off. The solution is scheduling in-office meetings as needed (giving your employees plenty of notice so they can adjust their calendars accordingly) and being smart about when these take place.

Meetings are a great way to use low-productivity windows - times when employees aren’t in the right headspace to start on deep work or high-intensity tasks. Internal meetings are best done on Mondays or Fridays, when productivity is traditionally lower.  

The rest of the week may be where the action happens but that doesn’t mean these ‘slump’ periods should be written off as wasted time. Using them for internal meetings gives your employees a chance to ease off their regular work, but still make a meaningful contribution.

If you’re not sure when your team is at its most productive an employee productivity monitoring  solution like Prodoscore can help. By monitoring how your team uses their tech platforms and tools, Prodoscore tracks trends in productivity, giving instant insight into peak periods and daily dips.

Additionally, managers should make an effort to be constantly available - as much as possible and within reason - to their team with real-time communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. People are genuinely afraid to bother their managers, and you’ll need to make it known that you’re there for them when they need you and give them the tools to do it to remove this fear from the equation. You could be unknowingly holding up production if you only make yourself accessible by email or phone.

2. Smash uncertainty caused by spiky attendance

As a manager, you’re not just overseeing individual employees, you’re responsible for how the whole team works. And that gets complicated when they’re ducking in and out of the office.

The calendar is your friend. Using a shared schedule, you can stagger employee work hours where it makes most sense. All members of the team should have visibility over their department so they can see when their colleagues are available or are attending a meeting.

Some departments require more collaboration than others and they need to plan for being in the office together. Sales and marketing may need more weekly interactions than the IT department, for instance. 

But that doesn’t mean these teams are tied to the office. Be sure to schedule their calendars so that one team has at least one day a week working from home. And rotate this day so it’s not always a Monday or a Friday but varied to provide added flexibility.

3. Make the most of your office space

The process of coordinating individual employee schedules is a logistical challenge and can actually reduce the benefits of a flexible work environment.

Flexibility might sound great on paper but if you give your employees free rein over their schedules, you could quickly end up sitting in an empty office.

When hybrid employees do come into the office and their colleagues are working remotely they end up collaborating virtually which makes the trip to the office feel like a waste.

Given the choice, most employees would prefer not to work Fridays or Mondays. But what happens if everyone in the office takes the long weekend? Your high-value office space is mostly vacant on those days but far too crowded mid-week. With unrestricted choice, operational inefficiencies occur.  

Although mandating in-office days runs counter to the hybrid ethos, a less heavy-handed approach can still achieve results. Many companies are now using ‘seat reservation’ applications where employees log into an app to select what days they want to come in, based on office capacity limits. According to Gartner, 86% of corporate real estate teams expect to have this tool in place by the end of 2022.

4. Consider a 4 day work week

If hybrid work is still causing headaches, consider modifying it to a 4-day work week instead. This model is gaining traction as employers realize that their workforce can be just as productive in four days as five.

Squeezing five days of work into four means looking for efficiency gaps in your current model however. Small changes such as trimming meetings or using more streamlined tech tools can help your workers find the extra time they need during their shortened week. That way they can return to the office refreshed after a long weekend, and confident in the knowledge that they won’t be skipping deadlines or missing project goals to do it. 

Keep track of your team’s performance in real-time, whether they’re working from home or at their desk, with employee productivity monitoring software Prodoscore. The easy-to-use dashboard gives complete visibility into your workforce’s daily operations, providing data-driven productivity scores for individuals and teams. Contact us today to book a demonstration and see how it can transform the way you work.

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