We’ve spent many months adjusting to working from home. From finding the right home-office equipment to learning the ins and outs of video conferencing, we rose to the occasion. But now, a new challenge awaits us.
You have grown accustomed to the flow of working from home. Maybe you feel like you’ve finally gotten the hang of working from your home office and working remotely. But now, you’re hearing that your office would like for you to return full time. If you’re anything like me, the idea of returning full time when so much is unknown is scary. Frankly, it’s a bit premature.
Thankfully, a lot of industries are paving the way by announcing hybrid models for employees moving forward. What is this ‘hybrid work’ concept they are implementing? Hybrid work is a mixture of working remotely and going into the office. It varies from workplace to workplace but the overall concept is the same – allow employees to work from home part-time and allow employees to work from the office on others.
This new hybrid work concept gives employees a new opportunity, especially in work environments that are pushing for returning full-time or hesitant about full-time remote workers. Employees can now advocate for their own hybrid work schedule. In our blog today, we will go over how to successfully propose a customized hybrid work schedule to your employer.
1. Start with what you know
As I mentioned above, hybrid work is not yet a standardized practice. Due to this, you may find yourself unsure about what your workplace is doing. Don’t feel alone. A lot of institutions are still unclear about how to move forward with workers. This is understandable, things are uncertain at this time.
Even with that in mind, it’s important to clarify what you do know and work from there. For example, if your office has already announced a hybrid work model with clear starting dates, you can focus on preparing yourself for when that moment comes. If you’re hoping to advocate for hybrid work or define a future work model without clear guidance from superiors, you’ll have a bit more work ahead of you to prepare. Lastly, if you have been directed to return full time, you’ll have to work hard to change their minds and support your hybrid work schedule. Clearly assess which situation you’re in before diving into your planning phase.
Start by asking questions. If you have a human resource department, you can politely request information about their future plans. If you don’t get clarity, you can take matters into your own hands and begin to propose a hybrid work model for yourself that works for you. Like most things at work, proposing a change to the status quo can be challenging. That’s why you need to make sure you are ready when the time comes.
2. Come up with a plan
Before you propose any changes to your current work schedule, it’s important to create a plan to propose. This will make sure your ideas are clearly explained and that your reasoning is undeniable. Don’t underestimate the impact of a well-thought out plan. A strong proposal will be the difference between success and push-back. This is especially true if your company is hesitant about having a hybrid workforce.
3. Identify what schedule would work for you
As we know, hybrid work is a mixture of returning to the office and working remotely. Take time to think through your schedule. Would you like to work remotely 3 days a week or would 2 days work better? Do you have outside responsibilities to take care of on certain days? Make sure that the days that you select to be in the office are consistent. Your proposal will be much stronger if you can guarantee that the work schedule is something you will stick to.
4. Think about why this is advantageous for your company
Nothing strengthens your argument quite like thinking about the business’s bottom line. Think through how you will be a more productive worker if allowed to follow your proposed work schedule. Don’t forget commuters have saved hundreds of hours not commuting to and from work over the last year and a half. Will you be able to better allocate your time? Work on your argument before presenting your plan.
5. Reflect on limitations to your plan
In the same way that you have your preferences and commitments, your business does as well. Think about whether there are specific reasons for you to be in the workplace on certain days. Do you have a recurring meeting on Wednesdays? Will the entire team be in the office that day? In instances like the one above, you likely need to be there in person as well. Following that train of thought, are there days where you’ll need to physically be in the office because other team members will be out? Many of us share administrative responsibilities such as checking the mail or working the front desk. Make sure you take these limitations into consideration when reviewing your plan. In other words, try to identify the pushback you will get ahead of time and eliminate any doubts your company may have around those things.
6. Write your proposal
Now that you’ve reflected on the current situation and thought through your preferred work schedule, it’s time to write it down. Your proposal should be formal yet understandable. I suggest that you create a proposal structured the following way:
- Objective Statement: Start by clearly stating your purpose for putting together this plan.
- Proposed Work Schedule: Put together a calendar showing the days you want to be in the office and days you would like to work from home. Don’t forget to include start and end times for your days. Additionally, make sure you propose a clear start date for your work plan. Whether you’d like to start immediately or in a few weeks time, make sure you specify.
- Reasoning for Specific Work Schedule: Defend your proposal. Go through each individual day and explain why you would like to be at home or in the office. For example, if you’re asking to be remote on Tuesdays but in the office on Wednesdays because Tuesday you have a personal commitment and Wednesdays you have a responsibility in the office that you can’t miss, make that clear.
- Business Benefit Statement: Finally, close out your proposal with a strong statement demonstrating why the company will benefit from this schedule. Remove yourself from the equation and think like your manager/boss. Write this appeal to them to help them understand that this benefits you both.
6. Speak with your direct superiors
Like most things at work, start with your direct supervisor. Once you have a plan, a clear schedule of the days you’d like to be in and out of the office, and solid reasoning for why this would be advantageous for both you and your employer, you should discuss your idea with your manager. When proposing your hybrid schedule, stay on subject and try to remove any emotional responses.
For example, instead of saying “I need to be remote on Tuesdays because my kids need to be picked up from soccer and I’d be a terrible mom otherwise”, say “In order to stay on task for as long as possible on Tuesdays, I’m suggesting that I work from home on that day. This allows me to spend 30 more minutes working instead of having to leave early to pick up my kids.” Make sure you speak with them directly and also send them the written proposal you developed in step 5. It’s likely that your superior will not be making the final decision. Having this additional written document will make sure that as he proposes this plan higher up your message does not get lost in translation.
7. Follow up if you don’t receive a final decision
After speaking with your direct superior, the decision process is typically out of your hands. Give the relevant people the appropriate time to discuss your proposal. However, if you have not received an answer, don’t be scared to follow up. This is your future in their hands – continue to advocate for yourself if the process stalls.
8. Hope for a “yes”. Be prepared for a “no”.
Even with all of your hard work, your company can reject your proposal. If your hybrid work schedule is a make-or-break moment for your relationship with your employer, keep that in mind as you wait for your response. Make sure you have a backup plan in case your proposal is rejected.
On the other hand, if your proposal is approved, congratulations! Make sure to show appreciation for the flexibility and don’t falter on your commitments.