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Remote vs hybrid working model: What’s the future of your workplace?

We all are familiar with the traditional working model. We have grown up with it, our parents, on our televisions, and now ourselves, leaving home half asleep and coming back in the early evening ready for bed.

But in the last decade, through technological developments and the impact of an unprecedented global pandemic. The traditional working model of journeying to a communal workspace, of having the 'office experience', is changing right in front of us. And we now have the option to work differently.

Remote working options are increasingly appealing to employers and employees alike.

In a recent survey, almost half (47%) of those quizzed would wish to look for another job if their employer wasn't willing to adopt a flexible working model. There are many remote work models, including working from home, Flexi hours, hybrid work or even telecommuting.

This article, however, will see us diving into remote and hybrid working models. We will discuss what they mean, their strengths and weaknesses, and give you something to think about as you consider the future direction of your business.

What does it mean when I say remote-first or hybrid working models?

A remote-first culture is a flexible working arrangement that allows your employees to work remotely every day. No longer tied to the office, your employees can take their work wherever they may wish, which could be their home, a public space or abroad.

Whereas a hybrid working model promises a more blended workforce. It comprises employees who are working remotely and who work from a central office location. The distribution of your teams depends on you and your employees. You may wish for specific teams to be fully remote or in-house. And your employees will decide based on what they find the most comfortable and productive.

You can argue that there are plenty of similarities between these two approaches. For example, both preach the need to offer the workforce flexibility in their workday. However, the hybrid model in its structure can be more fluid dependent on the needs of a business and the individual. So, if specific projects or tasks are going on, your employees can come together in the office to complete them.

The advantages of a remote-first working model

The time you need to do the things you want

Time is a precious commodity. If only we had more time! People complain. And being in an office all day can leave us unable to accomplish everything we may want to do. But the flexibility offered by the remote-working model is an extremely attractive proposition for employees.

Remote working can help employees to achieve that perfect balance between their work and personal life. With increased flexibility and no longer being tied to a desk every day from 9 till 5, your workforce can have more control of their daily schedule. So, that work is not the sole focus each day, and they can deal with other essential things that may crop up. 

For example, they now can pick up their kids from school or nursery, having more time to watch them grow. They can now run essential errands, be around for deliveries or meet up with friends and family for lunch. The increased opportunities to enjoy life beyond work means remote working can help to improve your workforce's state of mind and sense of self. Thus, creating healthier and happier employees.

The world is your recruiting oyster

No longer limited by geographical location when hiring new employees, remote-working grants you global talent access. With increased reach, you can now find the best fits for your teams wherever they may be. In addition, no longer tied to a fixed set of working hours, employees can work across time zones, ensuring constant productivity. 

By expanding your search beyond the local, you can find individuals with specialized skill sets to help energize your workforce. To identify your new business leaders, creatives and hardworking team players who can offer diverse voices and ideas to the betterment of your organization.

Remote-working no longer means you are tied to a fixed identity. You can be so much more, and with team members spanning the globe, it can provide you with a competitive edge over your market rivals, help build momentum and traction within new markets and drive productivity.

A green way to do business

The average worker commutes 27 minutes one way to work. Now think globally and the uncountable cars, buses, trains, and even planes used each day. The mass of CO2 emissions and pollution contributed by the workforce's daily journey to their offices. When we all need to be taking action to protect our world from irreversible climate change, working remotely and reducing our carbon footprint is a crucial step we all can make.

The advantages to a hybrid working model

Boost productivity

Everyone works differently. Not everyone can maintain a high level of focus all day, 9 to 5, in the office. However, a hybrid working model allows your employees to find the time during the day when they are at their most optimal. Hybrid working grants your teams the flexibility to be at their best when it is time to work.

In addition, a hybrid model caters to the different working styles you may have in your organization. Some employees prefer quiet, solitary environments to get their best work done. Others need people around them, the constant chatter and the chance to engage and discuss ideas. 

A hybrid model can work for all, allowing people to work to their own needs, go to the office, or be remote. To help them deliver excellent performance and achieve their professional goals.

Lower your overhead costs

With fewer employees now utilizing your physical office space, you can make massive cuts in your outlays on office practicalities and utilities such as water and electricity.

By rethinking the workplace model towards a hybrid culture, you could downsize to a smaller co-working space or move towards having satellite offices. Therefore, more money in your pocket than you would otherwise spend on rent can now be reinvested elsewhere in the business by embracing a hybrid model.

Healthy employees, productive employees

Work can take it out of you. And so, reducing the stresses employees face can reduce the sense of attrition your workforce feels. And in following a hybrid model, your employees can work to a schedule that aligns with their needs—improving motivation, attitudes and helping them be at their best when it comes to working. When you feel good, you can work well.

A hybrid working model can help your employees be happier, healthier and enjoy a fantastic work-life balance. Satisfied with matching their personal needs with those of their professional aspirations can increase job retention rates. Moreover, the ability to work from home can help reduce absenteeism. Employees can work remotely, thus not impacting deadlines and preventing the spread of illness around the office.

The disadvantages of the remote working model

It is not suitable for all jobs

Not every job is suited to a remote style of work. You need to think about the characteristics of your industry, the daily duties that make up your employees working day. Can they be completed to a high standard away from an office without easy access to their colleagues, information, or particular tools? 

Would the move to a remote working style impact your performance?

Affect team unity and connection to the company

A remote workforce, scattered across the globe, may save you money, but the effect on team spirit should be a massive concern. Without the opportunity to work together or even stage regular social gatherings, it is hard to build the ties that any team requires to be successful.

Instead, you have a workforce of solitary silos, all getting on with work but very much isolated. Remote working can cause your employees to lose sight of their purpose. And without these additional motivating factors, it can cause your team not to feel part of the company and affect their willingness to give their all.

Of course, it is all well and good being motivated by a paycheck. But, with any successful business, the positive relationships you build with one another give you the most powerful sense of purpose and direction.

The shared identity you can create as a team can drive excellent performance, and a strong team spirit is crucial in maintaining motivation and engagement. Your employees feel united and work not just for themselves but one another, a real sense that they are a part of its success. Which unfortunately can be lost with a remote working model.

Distracted employees, less productive employees

Being at home and away from the office inevitably increases the range and possibility of distractions for employees. And when distractions increase, focus can drop dramatically. ⚓

To all extents and purposes, remote working means the employee is the boss. They set the hours and must maintain their focus and self-motivation. But, not everyone can be so disciplined with no one around.

The influx of new distractions at home or elsewhere can create serious issues, significantly when it impacts the employee's output. For example, will they complete tasks when required, effectively manage their time or respect deadlines, or will an essential piece of work continue to be delayed? Supervision, too, becomes more of a challenge. It isn't as easy as taking a stroll up to your employee's desks and getting a quick update on their progress. 🔭

Furthermore, with some employees struggling to retain focus and feel that they can relax without supervision. As a result, it may see other employees have to take on more work because of this drop in direction, placing an unhealthy strain on their shoulders, rather than an equal balancing of the work. 

Difficulty onboarding new employees

When you start a new job, you need explicit instruction and support, which is easier with your new colleagues and team leaders. However, when trying to onboard new staff remotely, it can become more challenging. 

Again, remote working can increase feelings of isolation among the workforce. For example, new employees may struggle to feel part of a team, as they haven't been able to have those formative experiences within an office environment alongside their new colleagues. Or, they may not understand the role they are being asked to do because of the increased distance between them and their teams; the lack of clarity could result in under-performance and an unwillingness to stick around.

The disadvantages of the hybrid work model

A drop in employee morale

FOMO. The fear of missing out.

It can become a big problem amongst your remote employees, who may feel disconnected from your in-house team. Whilst they are at home, employees may feel they are missing out on company events, lunches or birthdays increasing a sense of unhappiness or isolation. No one likes to think that they have been forgotten. The negative effect on team unity and connection to the working cause aren't conducive to a successful or productive employee.

Whereas, if everyone is remote working, everyone knows that they are all in the same position. So, the teams can organize events to bring everyone together when it works for all.

A divided workforce

Envy is a terrible thing. And a hybrid working model can accentuate feelings of jealousy among your office teams towards remote employees.

There may be animosity towards those who seem to have an easier time at work. The remote teams, in some eyes, can wake up after a good rest and start working in the comfort of their own home. However, those in the office still have to wake up early, commute to and from work, the delayed, packed train with horrendous smells and then work a full day.

A scattered workforce requires you to have the tools in place to ensure everyone can stay connected and on task. If not, a lack of consistency and organization can impact productivity and performance. For example, it may be harder to contact one another, ensure everyone attends meetings or has business-critical information available to them.

Without it, a real sense of disconnect can grow, preventing good collaboration and communication and increasing mistakes and employee frustration.

You can understand how some employees may feel angry about that. Thus, creating negative tension and stopping the workforce from working as one to achieve their goals.

Different expectations, more pressure

In addition, because some of your teams are working remotely, they may be held to higher expectations. Being at home, you have more time and that it is easier to work more hours in some people's minds. So, the expectation may be for these employees to deliver results beyond those working in the office. 

The adverse effects of unrealistic expectations can lead to unhealthy working practices. Under pressure and afraid of being considered lazy, employees may work more overtime and take fewer breaks. A hybrid working model should support employees, giving them the time and energy to do other things beyond work. But in reality, it can have the opposite effect. 

Remote or hybrid: The choice is up to you

The choice of your future work landscape is in your hands. Of course, the correct working model differs from business to business and depends on the characteristics and industry you belong to. But, one thing is clear, in light of recent changes, the approach that offers the most flexibility is an increasingly popular choice among businesses and their workforce.

So, after reading through this article, you may have a better idea of what direction your business may take. But remember, whatever you do, it's to ensure your employees are comfortable and happy so they can achieve great results and meet both their individual and team goals.

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