Why Is Scheduling Hybrid Work So Complicated?

Bonus Content: Our Hybrid Strategy Playbook

Scheduling hybrid work is complicated. Deciding when to be in the office depends on the people and things you want to work on. In this article Learn about how and why to schedule hybrid work.

Why Is Scheduling Hybrid Work So Complicated?

Scheduling hybrid work should be about the same amount of effort as scheduling any other type of work. People work a certain number of hours on certain days in a month. Those days are sometimes worked from home, sometimes worked from the office, and sometimes worked from a third location like the local coffee shop, or a holiday house in France.

That's simple enough.

So why is scheduling hybrid work so complicated for so many people?

Just when you think everything looks right on paper, then somebody doesn't turn up for a meeting because they didn't get the memo that day.

People who need to brainstorm for a creative project together, in-person, suddenly find themselves lost for ideas alone in a coffee shop somewhere, while others make long commutes to the office only to log straight back into Zoom for a remote meeting as soon as they arrive.

In practice, scheduling hybrid employees can be an endless headache.

We're here to help you wade through the woes of scheduling hybrid patterns, so you can return to a world of neat schedules that stay well within the lines of predictability, and don't cause any unruly stress in your day.

The Hybrid Schedule Itself Isn't Complex. People Are Complex.

People are complex to coordinate
People are complex to coordinate

What's complex, is our inherent human nature to avoid commitment, resist change, and make things more complicated than they need to be.

This process of 'herding cats' in the daily work schedule is putting immense pressure on HR Managers, team leaders, people in collaborative teams, and the quiet types who only show up for in-person work when they really need to.

Mis-communication causes confusion that makes everybody's jobs more stressful. It fuels a toxic cycle of workplace frustration that erodes confidence at all levels of the organisation. This makes the hybrid work schedule an undeserving scapegoat for workplace chaos, when really, the onus is on people to communicate their plans more effectively within their hybrid roles.

Ultimately, it's the organisers of the hybrid workforce who suffer most, because time and time again you fail to deliver a seamless work experience to people you care about - your employees.

Why Can't We Just Use Normal Scheduling Tools To Schedule Hybrid Work Patterns?

DuoMe is at the forefront of developing hybrid work scheduling tools for the modern workforce. We've seen a broad range of challenges faced by hybrid employers in all industries, and know-first hand how stressful it can be for people to squeeze a new way of doing things into a pre-existing scheduling system.

Take a look at some of the common pitfalls found in traditional scheduling tools, so you can make your hybrid work schedule smooth and simple in no time at all.

Excel Spreadsheets Can't Overlap Schedules

Organised people do love a spreadsheet, but the problem with spreadsheets is they don't know how to overlap data in a meaningful way. Spreadsheets work in columns and rows, and also have the option to colour-code information into cells, but they're limited by their structure.

The nature of tables means that each spreadsheet is capped at just three variables - one data set goes into the rows, one data set goes into the columns, and one data set goes into the colour-coded cells.

If you need more data sets, then you need to make more tables.

Normal rosters have just three variables, which is perfect for spreadsheets. The names of employees occupy one data set, their days worked takes another, and their required hours uses the third variable to make a perfect table.

In hybrid work schedules, the data sets include the employees' names, their days worked, the tasks they're working on, their workplace location, and the hours they're expected to be available for.

Hybrid work schedules have a minimum of five variables, often more, which means you need to have at least two tables to successfully roster employees this way.

Two tables can make the information seem disjointed, which causes gaps in the story. Gaps in the story cause people to miss their meetings while they're sitting on the train.

Shared Calendars

People create a team calendar online, and everybody adds their hours, locations and tasks to the joint calendar. Shared calendars make sense, because each event can be customised to add extra information about where people are working from, and which tasks they're working on for each event.

Shared calendars run into trouble when things change. If you plan to work with someone and they change their plans, then you have to go back into the shared calendar to realign yourselves, which is time-consuming. People grow frustrated when they spend more time figuring out someone else’s plans than they really need to, which can cause the relationship to break down.

The challenge with shared calendars is not only their functionality, but also the people who use them. People change their minds at the last minute and forget to update their details, which means that others can't always trust the information that's available to them.

Shared calendars work well until the trust gets broken. It only takes one person in the team to be a little sloppy with the shared calendar, and the whole team decides the system is unreliable.

Desk Booking Tools

Desk booking tools allow people to book a desk before travelling to work, often right up until the time when they're already walking through the door and taking a seat at their desk.

Sometimes, desk booking tools let people gauge how busy the office will be based on the number of desks that are available, but desk booking tools solve the wrong problem.

People don't want to have to do another admin step to go into the office, they just want to know who will be there and what they'll be working on, so they can choose their office days around the best opportunities for constructive collaboration.

Hybrid employees don't need to be able to book a hot desk, they need to be able to plan their work schedule in advance, so they can connect with the people who actually matter to the success of their work day.

WhatsApp Groups

WhatsApp groups have become commonplace in the work environment, so it seems only natural that teams should now want a WhatsApp group to discuss when they'll be around and what they'll be working on each day.

This approach gives people flexibility to change their plans at the last minute, but can become overwhelming to people who already have too many WhatsApp groups, or those who switch their phones to 'do-not-disturb' mode after hours.

WhatsApp groups work well for active teams who communicate regularly, but can run the risk of causing burnout, and don't always guarantee that everybody in the group will see every message.

The biggest problem with WhatsApp groups is their lack of boundaries.

Everybody should know where to find people when they need to, but not everybody needs to know every detail about every person's plans.

This 'all-or-nothing' style of communication can bombard people with continuous communication, which causes them to zone out when something important is said in the group chat.

Email Chains

Emails work perfectly when they're kept to single strands sent during sociable hours only, and get read on time, every time.

The problem with emails is their reputation. People receive so many emails each day that most people now manage their inbox by switching their instant notifications off.

Digital marketing has pre-conditioned people to dip into their emails only when they really need to, and to switch their emails off when they want to enjoy some downtime.

This means that important emails often don't land at the top of the pile, so when it comes to coordinating hybrid workers, an email is often little more than a digital Post-it note that gets lost. Emails have all the same flaws as the little bits of paper we leave lying around the office.

Rigid Rosters

Unfortunately, the complexities of scheduling hybrid work means that some stressed-out roster creators try to do what they've always done using dated systems that haven't yet had time to adapt to hybrid work patterns.

This process leads to frustration, which causes companies to lose out on the enormous benefits of adapting traditional schedules to the hybrid work environment.

While doing nothing to adapt a rigid roster keeps things standardised, it can - and often does - cause businesses to fall behind, which ultimately sends talented staff running for the door.

Notice Boards (Yep, people actually do this)

People using a notice board for hybrid scheduling

In some cases, hybrid teams don't create a schedule at all. Instead, everybody tries to intentionally be in the right place at the right time by chance. One person may leave a note on a colleague's desk to say they hope to see them on Tuesday, while another may see a notice posted in the kitchen to say there's an in-person meeting happening next Thursday.

In relaxed workplace environments, a casual approach can stimulate a laid-back culture that's pleasant to work in, but this can cause lasting resentment when people feel left out or overlooked.

Post-it-note culture breeds cliques and FOMO - the fear of missing out - which can cause an otherwise successful hybrid team to become fragmented overnight.

How Can You Make Scheduling Hybrid Work Easier?

Successful hybrid schedules rely on process over perfection. It's about finding a system that works for your employees, then refining that process until everybody knows what's expected of them.

You need to look beyond what you have always done in your traditional roster, and steer clear of ad hoc solutions that look good today but fall short tomorrow.

The end goal is to create a trusted system that you can rely on every day, which makes it easy for you to deliver a positive work experience that keeps people genuinely engaged.

The Complexities Of Hybrid Work Schedules Don't Need To Be Complicated

DuoMe has built a dedicated hybrid work scheduling system, which is a fully-adaptable calendar that takes the human side of following schedules into account. The system changes when people change their minds, which makes scheduling hybrid work a seamless experience without the headaches!

Book your free demo to see how easy it can be to schedule your hybrid team today!

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