Even if it’s hard to draw conclusions with ever-changing circumstances, the world of work is changing - that much is clear.
Remote work disrupted the status quo for many companies, and from this new flexible way of working many work schedules have now become normalized. The traditional 9-5 is under threat, and it’s time to start looking into other work schedules that could lead to workforce optimization.
What is workforce optimization?
Put simply, it’s the systematic improvement of the way you manage your teams.
If you’re curious as to how you can change things for the better and encourage greater engagement from your team, take a look at these remote-friendly work schedules with real-life examples to see if they’d be a better fit than your current arrangement.
The 4 Most Effective Remote-Friendly Work Schedules
Each of these work schedules can help you get the most out of your employees if deployed correctly. Given that they all accommodate remote working, it’s worth setting up productivity monitoring tools so you can base your conclusions on real employee data.
The hybrid model is one work schedule that’s gained considerable traction in the past few years as the sweet spot between remote work and office work.
It works well for companies who have the digital infrastructure in place to facilitate remote work, yet also considers the social element that’s integral to employee engagement and well-being.
Generally, this model assumes a split in the work week, where an employee will spend a few days working from home and the rest of the time working in the office.
PRO TIP: In a hybrid model, you assume that your employees put in the same amount of work at home as they would in the office. To make sure that level of trust is warranted, you can track employee performance using time data to accurately compare output.
Real-Life Example: Meta
Meta (formerly Facebook) was one of several major tech companies to identify the need for a new way of working following the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meta recognized that many employees enjoyed the opportunity to work from home, and that forcing them back to the office could be an alienating strategy. As such, the company first made the decision to transition to a hybrid work model in 2021.
Here’s what they told employees:
- Work from the office at least 50% of the time and a minimum of three days a week.
- You can sign up for an ‘office deferral’ program to push back your return to the office for up to five months.
Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
Have you ever asked yourself what are some of the ways businesses increase productivity?
If so, there’s a strong chance you could get your team to thrive with a results-oriented work schedule. ROWE (results-only work environment) is a work schedule that places results on a pedestal, and plays down the importance of everything else.
It’s a flexible way of working that places a lot of trust in the employees as they can effectively manage their own time how they wish. By ceding a lot of autonomy to your team members, everyone is free to work to their strengths and get the work done however they see fit.
This work schedule gives freedom for the night owls to work through the night, the early risers to get their day’s work done by midday, and the digital nomads to work on the go. Provided you regularly review employee performance, there’s no reason why this schedule can’t work for your team.
PRO TIP: Monitoring in the workplace can be an effective way to ensure employee time is well spent. To see how employees respond to a results-oriented dynamic, you could try using a tool like Insightful for the first few weeks to make sure performance levels are high.
Real-life Example: JL Buchanan
The retail consulting firm JL Buchanan uses a ROWE work schedule, allowing its employees to take trips without giving notice, set their own schedules, and enjoy full flexibility - provided they complete their assigned workload.
The firm doesn’t have a dedicated office space, preferring to side-step the unnecessary expense as its employees are more than capable of doing what they need to do on a remote basis.
The 4-Day Workweek
The 9-5 schedule may have been the predominant way to work for the past century, but could it soon be replaced by a shorter 4-day workweek?
Some companies have enjoyed success with the 4-day workweek, claiming that it leads to increased productivity and greater work-life balance.
This could be because all the idle time that takes place in a typical 40-hour workweek can be effectively cut out as employees are incentivized to finish all their work by Thursday to secure a three-day weekend.
PRO TIP: To make sure productivity levels of the 4-day workweek match or exceed those of the traditional schedule, use employee internet monitoring software like Insightful to make accurate comparisons. Wfh monitoring software can give you insights into whether this schedule is viable for your team or if it creates more idle time.
Real-Life Example: Microsoft in Japan
A subsidiary branch of Microsoft in Japan experimented with a 4-day work week and implemented the following changes:
- No work on Fridays for a whole month
- Meeting times reduced to 30 minutes
- A transition to remote-friendly communication methods
The results of these changes?
There was much lower overhead costs such as office electricity bills, and productivity levels soared.
Another work schedule that affords people the same level of freedom as a ROWE schedule is the freelance model.
Sometimes freelancers or contractors are viewed as a quick-fix to address a company’s skill shortages or a stopgap while a permanent employee is absent. However, it’s not uncommon these days to hire a whole team of freelancers that take on many of the responsibilities an employee would but without the rigid schedule or bonuses offered to employees.
This can be an effective work schedule if you want to build a content marketing strategy and cut costs in the process.
PRO TIP: The question of how to monitor employees computer activity can be solved in a freelance schedule through strategic use of workforce analytics software. For freelancers, idle time isn’t as important to the company as time spent in necessary applications for work-related projects. Using Insightful, you can see exactly how much time they’re spending on a Google Doc for example.
Real-Life Example: Walmart
A big employer of freelancers, retail giant Walmart appreciates the value freelancers can bring to various projects.
Avoiding significant overhead costs and keeping the corporate machine moving, Walmart employs hired help for all types of positions from tech support to content marketers. For the enterprise-level organization, it’s sometimes easier to rely heavily on a freelance workforce since it’s fewer people to directly manage, plus there’s a global talent pool to benefit from.