Hybrid vs Remote: All About Each Work Environment

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More and more businesses are shifting from 100% in-office work to hybrid and remote offerings.

The question is: which of these options is best for your business?

In this post, you’ll learn all about hybrid vs remote work. You’ll discover the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as gain inspiration from companies who’ve made the shift to one or the other. 

Quick summary:

  • The hybrid work model is flexible, with employees balancing working remotely and working in the office. Employees are often free to set their own schedules based on their individual work needs and productivity, as well as company goals.
  • The remote work model allows employees to work from anywhere. Fully remote teams do not access a shared office or workspace.
  • Determining whether to shift to a hybrid or remote work model depends on your business goals, employee preferences, and your ability to provide appropriate support to your employees.

Hybrid vs remote: all about each work environment

The hybrid and remote work models have some clear distinctions.

In the hybrid work model, employees work both remotely and from the office — often setting their schedules based on their own or the company’s needs. For example, the need to access materials and opportunities for in-person collaboration or meetings will likely bring them into the office.

The remote work model allows employees to work from anywhere. Fully remote employees do not access an office or shared workspace. These individuals enjoy the freedom of selecting their optimal work location, whether that’s a home office or a coffee shop.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into the details of each of these work models.

Hybrid work model

The flexibility of the hybrid work model has made it increasingly popular over recent years. About 5 in 10 employees are currently working according to one of the different types of hybrid schedules. 

Hybrid work types

There are four main types of hybrid work models: office-centric, flexible, remote-friendly, and remote-first.

Choosing the best option for your business will likely depend on the amount of flexibility you can offer your employees based on your organizational goals.

Here’s a brief rundown of each hybrid work type:

  • The office-centric model requires employees to work in the office for the majority of the work week. However, the employees may have some flexibility regarding their in-office hours or on which day or days they work from home each week.
  • The flexible hybrid model lives up to its name, offering employees schedule flexibility. This means the time they spend working in and out of the office is entirely up to them.
  • Remote-friendly businesses set clear guidelines on when and how employees can work remotely. For example, they may not allow employees to be remote on certain days of the week, or they may provide restrictions on which tasks can be done remotely.
  • The remote-first model allows most employees to work remotely most of the time. This means the business focuses on processes for its remote workforce.

Advantages of hybrid work

Hybrid businesses enjoy some clear benefits over remote work, including the following.

A better work-life balance

The ability to set their own schedules allows employees to take advantage of when they’re most productive. They can also change their hours as necessary to enjoy events in their personal lives or schedule appointments.

Alternating hours is viewed as a critical benefit with increased overall job satisfaction among employees.

Improved engagement and collaboration with colleagues

Employees who spend at least part of their work lives in the office enjoy more opportunities for in-person communication.

Studies also show that being in the office two to three days per week is linked to positive employee engagement and improved well-being.

  • Access to office materials and work spaces is another perk of adopting a hybrid work model. Successful hybrid offices have spaces for employees to meet in large groups, interact one-on-one, and work individually at workstations.

Determining the optimal office space requires knowing which employees will be coming into the office and when.

Disadvantages of hybrid work

While the hybrid model offers some excellent benefits, you’ll want to be aware of some of its disadvantages, too. These include the following:

  • While a flexible work model appeals to employees, you might find managing it more challenging since it can be difficult to know when employees will be in the office and when they’ll be at home.
  • Hybrid work models can also involve scheduling challenges. With shared office spaces, employees and managers may find that certain spaces are in high demand. They must stay on top of that to avoid double bookings and other conflicts.
  • Going hybrid means you’ll have to factor in the costs of maintaining an office space for your employees. This includes not only the office’s physical location but also the furniture, materials, and utilities you need to keep the space running.

Of course, these expenses depend on the type of building your office is in.

Let’s look at an example of a business that has shifted to hybrid.

Hybrid company example

Microsoft embraces the hybrid work model by providing employees with various options when it comes to their work site, physical location, and working hours. They reject the “one-size-fits-all” approach to the workday and instead are committed to offering flexible work for the long term. Several other companies have also successfully made this switch.

While hybrid work is a great option for many companies, you might be wondering if an entirely remote workforce would better suit your business’s needs. Read on to learn more about this style.

Remote work model

Like hybrid, remote work is a popular work model.

The remote work model allows employees to work from wherever they choose. Remote employees do not access an office or shared workspace.

About 3 in 10 U.S. workers are fully remote, with most HR in Fortune 500 companies reporting no plans to reduce their remote work options for employees in the foreseeable future.

Remote employees may also be referred to as work-from-home (WFH). While this is technically true, many remote employees have many opportunities to work outside the home.

If you’re interested in making your organization fully remote, there are benefits and drawbacks to remember.

Advantages of the remote work model

Remote-only businesses have some distinct advantages.

  • Remote employees have the most flexibility of any other type of worker when it comes to their schedules. This is helpful since, given the opportunity, 87% of employees would opt to work flexibly.

Remote employees typically set their own schedules, many opting to work when they feel most productive and when it suits their personal lives.

  • Businesses with a primarily remote workforce have eliminated or reduced office and overhead costs. No physical location means no rental or mortgage payments, monthly utility fees, furniture, or office supplies.
  • If you plan to hire a remote team, you’ll enjoy a much larger talent pool. You can also recruit more broadly since you don’t have to hire locally.
  • One study found a boost in creativity among remote workers. Their ability to craft their jobs ultimately led to performance improvements.

Disadvantages of the remote work model

Here are some possible drawbacks to consider for your business as you determine whether to go remote:

  • Collaboration may be challenging due to the reduced — or complete lack of — in-person communication. While video conferencing platforms offer team members face-to-face time, it may be difficult to schedule these sessions, especially if your employees live in different time zones. 

Fully remote employees also miss out on the benefits of having “watercooler” conversations, often making it more difficult for them to develop and strengthen their interpersonal relationships at work.

  • Establishing and maintaining boundaries may be difficult without purposeful intent. An employee who works from home may find it harder to set and stick to certain work hours if their laptop or other work tools are always readily available.
  • Remote businesses must also know the higher IT security needs associated with a distributed workforce. Not only are there more considerations to make, but the cost of preventing breaches can be substantial.

Here’s an example of a company that has embraced its remote workforce:

Remote company example

Zapier has been a remote-based company since its founding. The founders couldn’t afford the necessary office space nor align their work schedules in the beginning. 

As the company grew to scale, they found they could hire whomever they wanted, maintain a quality product, and keep their customers and employees happy by remaining fully remote.

Understanding the nuances between hybrid and remote work models is the first step. The second is deciding which model makes better sense for your business.

Hybrid or remote: which is best for your team?

Here are some things to consider if you’re trying to decide whether to transition your business to hybrid vs remote:

What makes sense for your company/industry? 

Your company mission, goals, and objectives should be your first consideration. Who are you, and what do you want to accomplish? Will you need to see your employees in person at least some of the time to flourish?

Determine your budget and whether a physical office space would make sense. Some positions or office responsibilities may also require an employee’s presence onsite.

Evaluate your talent pool. You’ll have access to the best available talent if you can sustain a remote workforce since you can hire employees from anywhere.

How will you support your remote and hybrid workers?

Both remote and hybrid workers benefit from a positive workplace experience. 

Consider how you will engage your workers if they are fully remote or only in the office part of the time. For instance:

  • Establish clear channels for communication, such as email, chat spaces, or video conferencing. 
  • Ensure your employees have opportunities to collaborate and work together, whether in person or remotely.
  • Provide employees with opportunities to give and receive feedback, ask questions, and raise concerns through surveys, project management tools, and regular check-ins.

What do your employees want?

Don’t forget to consider your employees’ wishes. More and more employees are seeking flexibility in their work lives to achieve an optimal work-life balance. 

Many businesses have found that overall productivity is enhanced when workers can choose their optimal location to work from.

If you’re considering the hybrid work model, use strategies for boosting engagement, such as fostering strong communication and interpersonal connections.

FAQ

Do people prefer hybrid or remote work?

Individuals who enjoy some in-person interactions but want the flexibility to choose their work schedules prefer hybrid. 

Those who opt for fully remote positions want complete flexibility in not only their work hours but also their work locations.

Does a hybrid work environment work?

Absolutely. Businesses thrive with a hybrid work model, especially when establishing clear processes for balancing home and in-office time. 

How do I balance in-office and remote work?

Balance in-office and remote work by keeping your job responsibilities and productivity level in both locations in mind. Managers may also have some guidelines for specific jobs, including mandatory days in the office. 

Talk with your employees about their optimal work schedules to help them achieve the perfect balance.