As the world returns to normal and people head back into the office, it’s clear that for most organizations, the days of being in the office Monday to Friday, nine to five, are gone. After more than a year of remote work, the world has woken up to the many benefits of remote work, and most companies are looking to move forward using a mix of remote and in-office work – AKA hybrid work.
The hybrid model is billed as “the future of work” – but what it actually looks like can vary greatly depending on the type of organization, the role of the employee, and the employee’s own preferences. So if you’re about to adopt a hybrid way of working, here’s what you need to know to craft your ideal schedule and ensure you’re maximizing the benefits of a remote work/in-office duality.
Things to consider when gauging your WFH/office balance
Hybrid work is often viewed as offering employees the best of both worlds, providing the structure and camaraderie of office life alongside the flexibility and autonomy of working from home. And it’s true that there’s lots of evidence suggesting that hybrid work can return powerful benefits to individual employees as well as teams. But hybrid work can only give you the best of both worlds if you know how to craft a hybrid work schedule in a way that boosts both your productivity and your wellbeing.
To figure out what type of schedule works for you, you need to have a clear idea of which days you should be in the office and which days you’d be better off working from home—and once you know that, you need to be able to get management on board. For most people, the optimal balance will be influenced by their own specific roles and responsibilities, but personal circumstances will also likely play a part.
To figure out your optimal balance, it can help to ask yourself why you need to perform your work in the office; to what extent do you need to collaborate with other people, and to what extent do you need to quickly exchange information? Then, you might also want to consider some more personal aspects: how you actually feel about working from home versus in the office? Are you feeling disconnected, or overwhelmed? Are you clear about your company’s strategy and your own role and responsibilities?
The trick to crafting your ideal hybrid work schedule is figuring out which parts of your job are best accomplished where. In some ways this is easy to work out – eg. for work that requires collaboration, you should go into the office; if you want to enjoy some uninterrupted deep work, stay at home. But rather than just having an idea of where you work best, it can be helpful to get real metrics relating to when and where you’re most productive. Not only can this help you use your time better, but it can also help you sell your ideal hybrid work schedule to your boss.
Working out your hybrid work schedule
So what’s the best way to measure your productivity from each location? Automatic time trackers like Timely can quickly give you the insights needed to figure out when and where you get the best results – and because Timely works on web, desktop or mobile, running in the background while you work, you’ll be able to stay fully present on your actual work, no matter where you are.
From the data gleaned from tracking your time this way, you’ll be able to see precisely how much time certain tasks take you in different locations. You can also see where and when you get distracted; for example, are you getting distracted by colleagues in the office, or are you wasting time checking news sites or social media from home? When you’re in the office, are you pulled into meetings you don’t need to be in? Or are you able to reach a flow state better when you’re out of the house?
If you track your time from home and from the office for a few weeks, you’ll get an idea of where you perform at your peak – and then you can use this as a baseline for determining how your hybrid work schedule looks. It’s beneficial to think about personal aspects here too, like how you feel after a day working from home versus in the office: do you feel like you achieved more? Do you feel happier, or more tired? These factors help you create a bigger picture of your working experience.
Aside from the ways that your own specific roles and responsibilities influence how your ideal hybrid schedule looks, there are other, overarching factors that will play a part too – and because these are related to the organization as a whole, they may be matters more suitable for management to weigh in on. For example, if we’re thinking about collaboration, what types of meetings are best held in-person, in the office, and which can be held virtually? Your level of experience may also influence your schedule – as new employees may benefit from being in the office more that working from home.
Having measurable metrics to back up your hybrid work schedule can help you persuade your boss that you’re able to take ownership of the ways you work – and ultimately allow you to work at your most productive, wherever that may be.