Hybrid work: One week, two very different scenarios
One week. Two scenarios. Here’s a peek into the good, the bad, and the ugly of hybrid work.
Have you ever wanted a little more “me” time? In today’s always-on world, it can be hard to find, especially if you’re going into the office every day. What if, instead of waking up before dawn to shower, make coffee, and rush out the door, you could leisurely roll out of bed, get a workout in, or spend time with your kids and then take the 1-minute beeline (instead of the hour-long F line) to your home office?
It might look a little something like this:
Well, for many people, that wish will soon be granted.
Hybrid work is all the rage right now, and for good reason. After shelter-in-place orders caused most of the workforce to go remote, people got a sense of what it’s like to work from home and they liked it – like, a lot. So much in fact that 57% say they would consider leaving their employer if they had to return to the office full time.
But it’s not only employees that are demanding a hybrid work model – businesses also see a huge hybrid work opportunity. Some even see it as a kind of miracle that will reduce costs, boost productivity, and help meet sustainability goals.
But hold on. Let’s take off the rose-colored glasses. While hybrid work models can lead to such improvements, getting there takes a willingness to listen to employees, plan, implement the right technology, and continuously adjust based on new insights.
A week in the life of hybrid work
In two scenarios, I’m going to show you a week in the life for the average hybrid worker. In one scenario, we’ll walk through the ideal hybrid work situation. In the other, we’ll look at what happens when hybrid goes wrong.
Monday, Scenario #1
John’s company gives him Mondays and Fridays off. He’s grateful that he doesn’t have to commute on those days, and he appreciates the sense of community he gets when he’s in the office.
Morning: John enjoys the morning knowing he won’t have to rush out the door. He uses the time to catch up with his partner, make breakfast, and scroll through social media. Work starts, and John goes to his work-from-home setup in his bedroom. His company provided him with a laptop, but nothing else. He starts by looking at the calendar for the day.
Noon: John has his first meeting – he keeps his video off, so his colleagues don’t see his messy bedroom. Most of his colleagues keep their video off too, and he realizes just how hard it is to know when someone else is going to jump into the conversation when you can’t see the people in the meeting. Unfortunately, that’s also the time that his neighbor decides to mow the lawn. As John begins his portion of the presentation, his colleagues complain about the sound. He replies with: “That’s work from home for you–you just never know.” They decide to move John’s section to the end of the call.
Afternoon: John scheduled an appointment with his doctor knowing he’d have a bit of time while working from home to take care of the check-up he’s been putting off. He never connected his phone to company messaging or email because of privacy concerns. While he’s out, he misses some important messages. When he gets back to his desk and sees everything he missed, he panics and scrambles to catch up.
Monday, Scenario #2
Kate’s company has a flexible hybrid work model. That means she can go into the office the days that she wants and work the hours when she feels most productive. She feels that her company trusts her to make the right decisions.
Morning: Kate knows that most people choose to work from home on Monday, so she decides to stay home as well. Besides, she has a lot of focus work to do, and she likes to tackle those projects in the beginning of the week before her calendar becomes inundated with meetings. Like John, she spends the morning leisurely – enjoying the sunrise and getting her kids ready for school. After checking her messages in the morning, she closes email and her messaging app on her laptop knowing full well how easy it is to get distracted. She’s enabled notifications on messages from her team on her phone, so she’s confident that if something urgent pops-up, she’ll know about it – although it rarely does.
Noon: After making good progress in the morning, Kate has her first call of the day. She takes it from the small nook in her kitchen because it’s comfortable and has a great view of the neighborhood. Kate’s company has provided her with a portable collaboration device: it’s blue, her favorite color, and she doesn’t know how she’d be able to work from home without it. It allows her to join calls at the push of a button, and it even has a digital assistant. She can just say “Join my call” and she pops right into the meeting.
She can also whiteboard or annotate on the device and the best part is that most of her co-workers are set up with similar devices. As she’s presenting to her team, the mail carrier approaches the kitchen door and her dog goes wild. She says, “I’m so sorry for the interruption team!” As she sees some confused faces, one of her colleagues replies: “What interruption?” Her device has noise removal and is optimized for her voice.
Afternoon: Kate shuts off her messaging again; it’s time to wrap up the day and get the kids off the bus. Like most days, she takes a long pause at 3:30 PM, cares for her kids and helps with homework before logging back in after the kids are asleep. The beautiful thing is that her whole team knows her schedule – and they not only accept it but encourage it. Kate feels grateful to work for a company that provides the flexibility and freedom she needs to be her best in all facets of her life.
Wednesday, Scenario #1
Today is another day in the office for John. After going to the office on Tuesday and knowing he’ll have to go again on Thursday, he’s already looking forward to Friday.
Morning: John wakes up early and gets ready for work. He hates the commute but is glad to fill the time by listening to his favorite podcast and he’s looking forward to connecting with his friends at work.
Noon: John spends the morning getting himself a few cups of coffee and catching up on the projects that he didn’t complete the day before. He has a team meeting, and everyone gathers in the same room. It’s a little too close for his comfort, with barely enough space to social distance, but things are changing, and he rolls with it. The team is brainstorming some new ideas on a whiteboard. Afterwards, John walks up and takes a picture of the whiteboard, knowing it will be erased even though they added a box at the top with big red letters that says, “Do Not ERASE!” He knows the project is confidential, but his manager asked him to capture it and share it with the rest of the team via email. He feels a little uncomfortable using his personal phone—unfortunately, it’s not the first time he’s been asked to photograph a whiteboard.
Afternoon: John starts to feel his energy levels dropping – he decides to write some emails and chit-chat with his coworkers to pass some time. He would like to go for a quick, revitalizing walk, but he’s spent his lunch hour grabbing food with some friends and knows how important it is to the company that everyone is in the office. After all, employees must scan their badge every time they enter and leave, and John heard that management tracks these seriously. After clocking out, John begins the commute home.
Wednesday, Scenario #2
Kate scheduled a brainstorm session with her team and asked those who could make it to come to the office.
Morning: Kate’s meeting with her team is at 1:00 PM, so she has some time to catch up on messages and work in the morning before prepping to leave for the office. When she arrives at the office, she remembers how different it is from pre-pandemic days. Parking is a breeze as only about half of the employees are in the office that day.
Noon: As Kate walks in, she’s greeted by a device with digital signage:
She’s grateful that her company is providing her with information on office capacity and reminders about the new office policies. “Ok,” she says, “please find me a meeting room.” A QR code pops up on the display along with directions to her meeting room. She scans the QR with her phone which directs her to the nearest available room.
Afternoon: Kate sends everyone on her team directions to the meeting room and everyone arrives promptly. The device on the table says that the room was cleaned a few hours ago and shows her that her meeting is about to start. She knows two members of her team couldn’t come into the office, so she sets up a virtual meeting.
Kate says, “Join my meeting,” and the remote team members show up on the video conferencing screen that doubles as a whiteboard. The team members that are working from home have an equal view of everyone in the room, and name labels appear beneath each team member.
Now that she has the team together, she wirelessly shares a presentation. One of her remote team members has a suggestion and begins to annotate on the presentation. Soon they are all collaborating on the whiteboard, some from the office and some from home. When the brainstorm session is complete, Kate closes the meeting with peace of mind. She knows everyone’s ideas are captured securely in their messaging space, and she feels satisfied – both because she was able to connect with her entire team and because of what they were able to accomplish together.
Friday, Scenario #1
Friday is finally here for John. His company expects employees to be “on” for the traditional working hours of 9 to 5. He has an unusual number of meetings for Friday but knows everyone is trying to complete a big project on time.
Morning: John received an invite to a meeting from his manager who is based on the east coast. John is on the west coast, and the meeting begins at 7:30 AM for him. He’s upset that he won’t get the morning time that he looks forward to every Monday and Friday. His manager discusses the project and explains to John how important it is that the project is completed by the end of the day. John mentions that he’ll have to prioritize his work for the day, and that another project will be delayed because of all the meetings he has. His boss is understanding, but John is struggling to block time out on his calendar for focus work.
Noon: After wrapping up several calls, John sits down to get his work done. He feels like it’s a bit rushed, but he’s glad to make some progress and doesn’t have the distractions of the office to throw him off. When his partner asks him what he’d like to do for lunch, John begrudgingly says that it will have to be a working lunch.
Afternoon: John is asked to present his progress to the rest of the team. He’s proud of what he accomplished and is ready to present. When it’s his turn, he notices that his Wi-Fi signal isn’t strong. The audio is choppy and those that are on video keep cutting out. He brings up his slides, but his colleagues start complaining that his audio is terrible. He leaves his desk for a minute to find his partner streaming Netflix and promptly asks him to turn it off. When John returns with the bandwidth issues resolved, he moves forward with the presentation. His boss chimes in: “This work from home thing really isn’t working for us.”
Friday, Scenario #2
Kate’s company has instituted meeting-free Fridays and provides flexible working hours.
Morning: Kate uses the time in the morning to catch up on her team’s updates, wrap up her action items from the week, and get some much-needed focus time on one of her projects. She’s able to do this without needing to watch the clock for her next meeting. She starts by watching each of her team member’s weekly updates that they submit on Thursdays using an asynchronous video platform. Each of her team members records a 10-minute weekly update with details on what they completed that week, what they plan to work on next week, and where they could use her help. She loves that she can catch up on everything in her own time. The videos are automatically set to 1.2x speed, so she can quickly gather all the details without missing a beat.
Noon: After tackling her big projects in the morning, Kate walks to a nearby coffee shop where she gets some work done while listening to music on her headset. While she’s working, her manager messages her: “I’m sorry, I know it’s meeting-free day, but would you be able to chat for a few minutes?” Kate meets with her boss from her laptop, but the coffee shop Wi-Fi isn’t great. Her video automatically adjusts to reduce the video resolution of her background while keeping her resolution picture-perfect. Her headset has built-in noise cancellation, so her manager never hears the commotion of the coffee shop.
Afternoon: When Kate returns home, she spends a few minutes looking over her personal and professional goals. Her collaboration solution provides insights into how she’s working with her team and lets her set work-life balance and focus-time goals. The tool informs her that a meeting she scheduled for next week with one of her teammates is after-hours and during their quiet hours. It’s important for her to respect her team’s time and work-life balance, so she reschedules the call.
Next, Kate makes her plans for next week so she can go into the weekend confident that she’s captured everything that needs to be done and knows the first project she’ll start on Monday. Feeling great about the work she did this week, she welcomes her kids home and enjoys quality time with them. She might pop back on during the weekend if inspiration strikes, but for now it’s time to call it an end to a great week of hybrid work.
Bringing the hybrid work model home
As these scenarios help illustrate, you can’t just send your workforce home and call it a hybrid workforce. According to the hybrid work readiness assessment, only 43% of respondents feel their organization has a complete, well-defined plan for hybrid work.
For hybrid work to, well, work, you need to ensure your company has the right policies and technology in place. You need to ensure every employee feels included and supported. You need to build a culture for hybrid work. And if hybrid work is done properly, it’s a big win-win for businesses, employees, and the environment.
At Webex, we have the resources to help you get started
#1. Take the Hybrid Work Readiness Assessment
Does your workforce have what it needs to maximize hybrid work? In 10 minutes or less, our interactive assessment will measure your organization’s hybrid work readiness. You’ll see how you compare to your peers and get a custom report that includes an action plan for succeeding in the era of hybrid work.
#2. Read the 6 Strategies for Hybrid Work Success eBook
It’s time for hybrid work by design. This 14-page eBook is the culmination of a year’s worth of research from surveys spanning five continents and close to 4,000 knowledge workers. It provides all the insights you need for hybrid work success.
#3: Visit Hybrid Work on Webex.com
See the latest research, innovations, and events on the topic of hybrid work. And get tips for driving connected remote work, creating safer offices, advocating for well-being, and managing hybrid work at scale.
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