Now that hybrid working is no longer a workplace novelty, people are faced with a new challenge. It's not about where to work anymore, but rather about when to work in each of the various locations offered by flexible hybrid working.
Today, most people enjoy some variation of homeworking, office work, co-working spaces, and even the occasional coffee shop. While the flexibility and positive impact this brings is undeniable, it also comes with some challenges.
I’m hearing more and more about people missing each other when going into the office, to try and avoid this, they are spending too much time coordinating with others through text messages and email about when to go in.
Meetings get scheduled and sometimes rescheduled because somebody ended up in the wrong place, or life happens and causes some miscommunications across the team. Unfortunately, the challenges of scheduling hybrid working tend to grow exponentially as teams get bigger and more distributed.
We've tackled this challenge head-on, and put together a quick guide below to help you navigate the pitfalls of deciding which days to bring people into the office.
People's Preferences For When To Work In The Office Fall Into Two Groups
For as long as people have worked the office environment has had two types of employees: those who put their heads down and those who enjoy the social interactions of the office. This is human nature, so people now choose to stay at home or come into the office for two main reasons.
1. Employees Primarily Motivated By Productivity or Tasks
These people may like to work in quiet places where they can focus on the task at hand. For employees who are motivated by productivity, it's best to spend time at the office when they can work on meaningful projects with the right mix of people to help them get their work done.
2. Employees Primarily Motivated By Other People or Networks
This group of employees like to socialise, and they perform best in collaborative environments where they can bounce ideas around in a shared space. For these people, it's best to be in the office on days that are likely to lead to networking encounters, and during key stages of projects where brainstorming will benefit their work.
How Do Personal Preferences Affect When People Come Into The Office?
Research into workplace behaviour follows similar trends across various channels and shows little difference before or after the lockdown years. However, the research is contradictory.
Generally speaking, it's widely accepted that people are most productive on Mondays and Tuesdays, with a slight preference for Tuesdays. Productivity often tapers off from Wednesday onwards until it all but disappears over the weekend.
According to LinkedIn, Mondays and Tuesdays are predicted to be busiest, but this only applies to people motivated by productivity, and only applies at some places of work.
Mondays are ideal days for planning out the week and setting goals, while Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally productive days that are great for ploughing through projects at pace.
Workplace behavioural studies have also shown that people become more friendly to work with as the week progresses. Thursdays are the most likely day that employees will feel sociable, and Fridays are most likely to feel relaxed if somewhat less productive.
The Problem With Using Fixed Days To Schedule Hybrid Working
Fixed schedules of the same people coming into the office on the same days won't work long term. Some people won't overlap and making everything fixed misses the dynamic nature of our work. There's no mould for which days are best, so successful companies are now looking towards their own employees to set preferences about when they should be in the office.
PwC's 'flexible work deal' offers employees blended work, flexible location days, and empowered days to tailor the content of their day to suit their workload. Line managers use direct reports to determine what's working, and what's not so that teams can best establish themselves with an optimised workflow.
For some people, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the office bring good opportunities to be around people, while others enjoy starting the week in a productive office and finishing their week from the quietness of home.
How Many Days A Week Should Your Employees Work In The Office?
Ironing out the best days to have people come into the office is about finding out what real people actually need.
Some employees might need extra face time with senior leaders and those whose skills they wish to learn from. These people benefit from having more days in the office, so they can learn by osmosis surrounded by experienced people who come and go around them.
Other people may need social interactions, opportunities for team building, and a space to collaborate in person. These people may be able to spend less time in the office, so they can re-energise themselves for a short period before heading home to focus on getting the job done.
Does Everybody Need To Come Into The Office On The Same Days?
It depends on who is in your team and what they are working on. Some people need to work together regularly in person, so these people should align days where they can expect the right level of collaboration.
Other team members in the same team may be able to contribute remotely. These employees can often just come into the office on days when their input is needed.
Projects and personal preferences should dictate when people come into the office. This allows employees to plan their time accordingly and prevents people from missing out on important collaboration days.
Not all projects are the same, and not all stages of projects require the same level of collaboration. The needs of the work week should define how and where the week is worked, instead of just forcing people's workloads into a fixed weekly schedule.
Use The Right Software To Schedule Hybrid Teams Effectively
There's no easy formula to schedule a hybrid team, and Excel sheets can only get you so far. Some people want to come into the office two or three days a week, while others prefer to work in the office every day, or only occasionally.
Likewise, meetings and projects change throughout the year. These interactions often need to bring people together strategically to use everybody's time in a cost-efficient, productive way.
Advanced hybrid work scheduling software goes beyond the scope of ordinary planning. Companies now have the technological capabilities needed to sync workflow, coordinate employees' workplace locations by project, allow for fixed days in the office, and tailor large-scale rosters to maximise output for greater productivity.
The secret is to remain agile, so you can adapt easily to the changing needs of your people. Book a free tour to see how easy it is to simplify your hybrid work schedule today.