As the COVID-19 crisis dissipates, business leaders around the world are adapting to a new normal. Team members have grown more accustomed to choosing how, where, and when they work best – and in many cases, they have been more productive. Leaders are starting to consider shifting towards a more flexible week.
We want to save you some time in the experimentation process of getting flexible and remote work right in your team, by sharing a learning gained from years of working in this space: start with a hybrid work week.
Why change up your work week?
One of our clients recently surveyed their staff to explore interest in working from home post COVID-19. Close to 60% want to work from home two or three days per week.
For leaders, the hybrid model allows for ultimate flexibility to tweak your team’s set-up. It can lead to positive outcomes for your team to toy with the number of work from home (WFH) days as well as trial different locations, technologies and teamwork strategies.
The hybrid week strikes a balance between in-person and remote, combining these two to best suit both company leadership and team members. Each team builds a weekly schedule, designed so that team members can work approximately half of the week in the office and half from home – give or take a few hours or a day. Many people find this to be the ideal compromise.
Combine working from home with the working from the office for best results
The benefits of a hybrid week are clear. On WFH days, team members get more sleep, enjoy more daylight hours, see more of their family, have time to exercise, eat healthier meals, and are ultimately better team members because of these perks. These benefits all feed back to their employer in increased loyalty and productivity.
It came as a surprise even to Global Workplace Analytics president Kate Lister when data from her post-COVID survey revealed that people might be more focused at home now. “Interruptions account for 73 minutes a day when people are at the office and 35 minutes a day when they work at home.” People who work remotely are making the most of working from home, despite life distractions they may encounter.
Balanced with productive time at home, days at the office are optimised by team members. Your team can enjoy seeing each other in person to collaborate together and feed off the energy created during meetings. Social time is a highlight as well – office days mean that a happy hour or birthday celebration is possible again.
Other positive points of office days include feeling physically connected to the organisation and work. Modsy CEO Shanna Tellerman shared that being separated during COVID-19 forced her managers to become even more connected to their team. Team members have learned to value how easily they can come together for a five-minute catch up, while leaving distractions of children, puppies and other family commitments behind.
Can the hybrid week positively impact your team?
Studies show that flexibility, such as a hybrid schedule, not only makes team members happier and healthier but also leads to workforce efficiency.
The hybrid work week offers teams more choice in when, where and how they work, which many people value. “Having the option to work remotely may enable people to travel more, spend less time in traffic, or better balance their other responsibilities. These may seem like small wins, but that flexibility can play into employees’ overall wellbeing and quality of both work and life,” shared VP of talent management at Unum Kimberly Bowen.
Based on business reporting by Fast Company, team members can be far more productive and effective when working remotely. Madeline Kelley of the Ellevate Network emphasises that you have to be accountable for yourself because no one is micromanaging to hold you accountable on days where you work from home.
The changes from COVID-19 might also offer an opportunity for many companies to finally build a culture that allows long-overdue work flexibility. As co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic Matt Mullenweg predicted, “Millions of people [now] experience days without long commutes, or the harsh inflexibility of not being able to stay close to home when a family member is sick… This might be a chance for a great reset in terms of how we work.”
For many teams, the flexible schedule of a hybrid week may help build your team’s path to better productivity, communication, and team satisfaction that will be welcomed by all.
Considering trialling a four day week?
Minimising time at the office can also mean consolidating the work week into four days. New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern suggested the four day week could help boost the economy and address work-life balancing. “There’s just so much we’ve learnt about COVID-19 and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that,” Ardern said in a Facebook live video.
But buyer beware, this is no quick fix, silver bullet or simple journey. If you do nothing else to prepare for a four-day week, read Andrew Barnes’ The Four Day Week, where you’ll learn about the Perpetual Guardian journey and discover the little-known fact that it was not universally successful. In fact the four-day work week failed spectacularly in part of the business. A key learning – traps for young players.
Last year, Microsoft Japan began testing the four-day work week’s formula for greater productivity and a work-life balance that enhances their team. The result: 40 percent increase in overall productivity, meaning the four-day work week might be here to stay, or is at least an option worth exploring.
Transformed Teams can support your team to create a productive, tailored hybrid work week with proven results. Find out about our Remote Team Master Plan.