The coronavirus pandemic shook the business world to its core. For almost two years, companies big and small across all industries and sectors had to find practical solutions to protect their workforce from the threat of the virus while also maintaining their productivity levels. For most of them, that meant switching to a remote work model and having most of their employees carry out their tasks from home.
While some businesses were already familiar with this practice and had an easier time adjusting to the new state of affairs, others were completely unfamiliar with remote and hybrid work and had trouble adapting, or were unable to embrace alternative work models due to the specific requirements of their activity. But what matters the most is the realisation that businesses can function even in such adverse circumstances and that remote and hybrid work are, in some cases, viable work options.
Now, with the pandemic finally subsiding and the relaxation of restrictions, many businesses are facing an important choice that will greatly influence their future: to go back to their former working conditions or to continue with a remote or hybrid work model instead.
If your company is in a similar position, you’re probably wondering which is the best choice for you. Understanding the differences between the two as well as the advantages and disadvantages both these arrangements imply is paramount for making a well-informed decision and ensuring a thriving future for your company.
Remote work – from its rise to its challenges
Remote work is known under various names. Some call it working from home, others call it telecommuting or virtual work. But regardless of the term of choice, remote work basically refers to an employee’s ability to work from anywhere by employing tech tools and solutions. This does not apply to working with independent contractors.
It has to be mentioned that remote work is far from being a novelty. Certain companies, especially in the IT sector, were already using this type of model even before the coronavirus outbreak began. Tech advances made it possible for businesses to have their employees work from afar, allowing them to build completely remote teams.
However, for many businesses, the switch to remote only happened after the covid pandemic hit. According to a survey conducted by Novo Executive Search, remote working wasn’t all that common in the pre-pandemic era. 75% of the executives interviewed in the survey stated that before Covid-19, remote working was either rare or not common in their specific industry. Regarding individual roles, most execs said working remotely wasn’t something they were used to. Therefore, it was the covid pandemic that marked the rise of remote work.
Although the transition was forced, many companies started to realise that remote work comes with plenty of advantages. For employees, it meant less time spent on commute, fewer distractions, and a better work-life balance. For companies, it translated into reduced expenses and being able to recruit from a larger candidate pool.
But despite these benefits, there were also plenty of challenges that businesses experienced during and after the transition. Some lacked the infrastructure to support a remote workforce – they didn’t have the equipment, software, or skills to help their employees perform their duties from a distance. In other cases, remote work caused a gap in communication, and collaboration between team members was deeply affected.
Hybrid work – an increasingly popular work model
Not all businesses could afford to switch to remote work entirely. Some still found it necessary to have at least part of their employees present in an in-office work setting, permanently or temporarily.
Therefore, they adopted the hybrid work model, which is a combination between in-office work and remote work. Some view it as having the best of both worlds since employees get to enjoy the perks of remote work at times, but they also get to interact face to face in a physical work environment. Companies and employees can benefit a lot from this flexibility as they get to enjoy all the above-mentioned benefits of remote work, but with fewer downsides.
Considering that the pandemic is not yet over, hybrid work also gives businesses the reassurance that they have a safety net in case things worsen, or if a new crisis strikes in the future. Also, given that a larger number of businesses have already become accustomed to remote working, it’s not likely they’ll want to give up the advantages it offers anytime soon. Hybrid work will most likely find its way into most companies’ strategies, and even those that haven’t tried it before will be tempted to embrace it.
The difficulty with hybrid work is that there is no one specific strategy to use. Arrangements vary from company to company and across departments. While certain businesses decide to call their employees to the office on specific days, others let workers choose the days when they’ll be working from home and the days when they’ll come to the office. Needless to say, without a clear structure, hybrid work can easily turn into a chaotic strategy.
Which one should you choose?
So, which is better: remote work or hybrid work? Unfortunately, there’s no clear winner in this competition. In fact, it shouldn’t be regarded as a competition. Both models have their pros and their cons, and both suit different types of businesses. In order to figure out if remote work or hybrid work is best suited for you, you’ll have to assess your business needs and requirements and figure out how these work arrangements can be applied to your specific circumstances. Also, make sure to take your employees’ needs into account before making a decision.
The one thing we know for sure is that the future of work will look a lot different from now on. Whether it’s remote or hybrid, these two work models will have a significant impact on the business environment in the years to come.