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How To Conquer Your WFH Scheduling Woes

Businesses are considering flexible scheduling strategies as another means to maintain social distancing at workplaces and balance organizational priorities with employee well-being.

Aaron Gaul
Program Advisor


Key Takeaways

The Future Is Flexible
The Future Is Flexible

The pandemic accelerated existing employee preferences for schedule flexibility. A return to the 9-5 workday is no longer realistic.

Parents Are Juggling Many Schedules
Parents Are Juggling Many Schedules

New workplace scheduling models must accommodate shifting school schedules and guard against disproportionate impacts on parents.

Schedules Must Protect Employer-Employee Boundaries
Schedules Must Protect Employer-Employee Boundaries

In the new virtual workplace, employers are desperate to recreate the “watercooler” but often at the expense workplace boundaries and company culture.

How We Work

Out With The Old 9-to-5

Over 100 years ago, Einstein coined the famous concept that “time is relative”. Today, the pandemic has made that concept exceptionally clear albeit incredibly stressful.  Today, everyone is fixated on where we are working—our homes. But as the pandemic extends, new work-related habits and time-based values are being forged like steel amongst commuters and employers. The most resilient workforces of tomorrow realize that when we work is paramount to where.

This creates a big question: what does the workplace schedule of tomorrow look like? In a word: flexible. A rebalanced schedule will be flexible while it safeguards a distributed team’s collaboration, communication, and concentration. Three key ingredients for productivity.

Lucky for most, there is a sizeable toolbox that relieves some of the pressure on scheduling during and after the pandemic. Software solutions, communication channels, and virtual collaboration tools are a few of the usual suspects relied upon today. But the tangible and legacy success in today’s scheduling will come from modern workplace policy and management concepts that establish transparency and trust.

Modern approaches to scheduling aren’t reserved to a pandemic priority. Mere weeks before the shutdown, the writing was on the wall in terms of value. In late January of 2020, a Gallup study revealed that 54% of office workers would leave their job for one that offers flexible work time. Fast forward a handful of months later, you wouldn’t need a research firm to tell you that the percentage now is likely off the charts!

54% of office workers would leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.
Gallup (January 2020)

Scheduling Traditions No Longer Work for Nearly Half Your Workforce

41 percent of workers between the ages of 20 and 54 have a child at home. For roughly half the workforce, their resume just grew exponentially, with abrupt new roles of teacher’s assistant, school IT technician, cafeteria manager, and guidance counselor—just to name a few. And with such ubiquitous virtual meeting uptake, kids are now highly visible and audible in the background of the workday.

While kids stomping into that very important meeting can provide some much needed comic-relief, this poses a very real business risk specifically to the talented women in your workforce.  The Center for American Progress analyzed census data and found that from April through July, roughly a third of unemployed millennial mothers were not working because of the closure of a school or childcare facility – about three times the number of young fathers who were out of work for the same reasons.

Perhaps most important for managers to recognize in the short-term is that school systems across the nation are redefining both where and when lessons take place.  Hardworking parents are learning brand new scheduling vocabulary such as hybrid schedules, blended instruction, asynchronous learning, and A/B/distance-only cohorts.  Schools that have reopened campuses have developed new policies requiring immediate seclusion and pick-up of symptomatic children – adding yet another layer of stress on parents’ availability. These new and complicated school scheduling concepts directly impact a large percentage of the daily workforce’s relative concept of time.

The Blurry Line Between Work and Social Schedules

The virtual workplace in 2020 has been filled with unique social moments—from valuable to hilarious to NSFW. With our virtual collaboration tools in hand, socializing has never been easier to schedule, monitor, and even record. And that alone should cause every manager some pause. A common and well-intentioned workplace trend has been an attempt to recreate the office’s water cooler. Countless articles and research show the value of encouraging virtual “chit-chat”, however many businesses struggle internally with when, why, and how much it should occur. Virtual happy-hours, committees and clubs, and team check-ins abound. In a world where “Zoom fatigue” is very real, much of this workplace socialization goodwill is starting to result in unintended consequences on productivity, morale, and company culture.

Learn More

Additional Research

Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes

Gallup research digs into the data to show that remote work not only improves business outcomes, but it is also something the most talented employees increasingly demand.

Read More
Rethinking Work Schedules? Consider These 4 Questions

Harvard Business Review analyzes 153 academic articles to distill key content down to four questions employers should consider as they begin to rethink work schedules.

Read More
60 Million Fewer Commuting Hours per Day

Stanford Professors assess unique survey data to document how employees reinvest time saved from commuting into time spent on their job.

Read More


Empowering Your Team With New Scheduling Concepts

Download this new scheduling presentation deck for managers. Inside you’ll find:

  • A tool to help facilitate discussion within your company about planning for work schedules and the benefits to your organization.
  • Tangible guidance for managers to employ improved scheduling protocols and tactics.
  • Foundational knowledge for determining how our team can better assist you with your Balanced Work strategy.

At Your Service

Business Leaders Forum

We welcome you to join a network of local professionals from Perimeter businesses who are working together to improve the workday for their colleagues. You will learn from the experiences of your corporate neighbors and can compare notes on future workplace plans.

Click the button below to learn more about this and other services available to you—like free one-on-one consulting with one of our Balanced Work experts.

Looking for more practical guidance as you prep your 2021 playbook?

Check out these popular balanced work resources.

Download: Guide to Balanced Work

Striking the Right Balance for How Your Team Works

The Exciting Future of the Office

VMware’s Ani Banerjee Discusses Rethinking Work

Download: Digital WFH Care Package

Download: Guide to a Safe Transit Ride