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September 23, 2022
January 20, 2021

Remote vs hybrid work: which is best?

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The work environment is changing. People want the freedom to work where they’re most comfortable, happy, and productive, and they expect their companies to provide that opportunity. In fact, a total of 97% of employees want remote work in some form!

And despite what many leaders and executives seem to fear, remote work, when done right, doesn’t negatively impact the bottom line or culture of a business. Around 90% of remote employees report the same or higher productivity levels when working from home. More research shows that hybrid workers are the most productive of all.

But every industry is different—remote work fits great for some while hybrid may be best for others. If you’re considering introducing remote or hybrid work to your organization, read on to learn more about the pros and cons of both remote and hybrid work, along with tips for maximizing each.

What is remote work?

Remote work, otherwise known as virtual work or telecommuting, is doing work outside of the office space. As long as the employee has the tools they need, such as a laptop and stable internet connection, remote work can be done anywhere, from a suburban home in Tennessee to a bustling cafe in Paris. For this post, when we say remote, we mean those who are fully remote, who never work in a traditional office.

What are the pros of remote work?

From increased flexibility to a greater work-life balance, remote work can provide a lot of amazing benefits for both employers and employees:

  • Saves time and money for everyone. Employers don’t have to spend money renting or maintaining an office space, and employees don’t have to deal with a daily commute. Plus, long-distance travel expenses are usually cut down as well, with the rise of virtual communication tools.
  • Greater flexibility and work-life balance. Work-life balance is central to a healthy life, and remote work has the ability to strengthen this balance. Everyone gets more time with their loved ones, more time to prepare and eat healthy meals or work out, and the flexible nature of working remotely allows each person to find the work environment that’s best for them.
  • Increased productivity. Fewer interruptions, less time chatting with coworkers, and fewer meetings equate to greater productivity overall. Plus, employees can more easily do their work when they’re most productive. Bottom line is, productivity can jump by up to 77% for remote employees!
  • Greater reach in recruitment. Companies that have fully remote workforces aren’t constrained to the location of their employees. They can hire talent globally, ensuring that they truly get the best person for the job, no matter where they’re located.

Remote work can be great for a whole host of reasons, and with this type of telecommuting on the rise, companies should seriously consider the option of moving to remote work, if they’re able.

What are the cons of remote work?

While remote work does sound amazing, it’s not perfect. Here are a few of the downsides that you need to be aware of before implementing a WFH environment:

  • Difficulty collaborating and communicating. Virtual teams and employees can feel isolated and struggle working together as a team. Remote employees may not see or talk to their peers or even their managers as frequently, leading to delays and miscommunications.
  • Reduced social interactions. Social interaction is vital to every human’s well-being. Close social ties have actually been linked to greater physical and mental health in everyone, regardless of age or gender. Remote work can cut down on the social interactions and relationships that in-person offices promote.
  • Increased pressure for self-motivation. While remote employees overall report being more productive, that’s not true for everyone. Other employees may struggle finding the energy or motivation to work while sitting at home, especially with the myriad distractions around them. 
  • Increased burnout. Remote employees are 43% more likely to work over 40 hours per week because there’s no separation between work and home. This can lower mental health and raise stress levels, which makes employees much less effective and happy.

Employers need to carefully consider the pros and cons of remote work before deciding whether or not it’s right for them.

How can you make the most of remote work?

Providing the right tools, creating a strong communication structure, and offering trust are three great ways to minimize the downsides and maximize the upsides of remote work:

  • Provide the right virtual tools. Software can make remote work a breeze, but only if you provide the right options. Make sure you have a messaging software and a video conferencing software to promote communication and social interaction. Provide a project management software and even a virtual whiteboard for collaboration. A file management tool is also crucial to give everyone access to the work they need. And an employee recognition platform is great for celebrating and appreciating employees virtually.
  • Create a communication structure. Make sure to schedule plenty of social interactions, including team meetings, team parties, one-on-ones, and regular check-ins. A schedule will make sure that everyone is on the same page and feels included.
  • Offer incentives and, more importantly, trust. Incentives can get people excited about the work they do. However, offering trust is even more important. Trust your employees to get their work done when and where they want, and don’t micromanage. That trust can go a long way to improving employee productivity and retention.

No one said managing a remote team is easy, but it can definitely be worth it. By creating a remote culture of creativity, collaboration, and trust, and empowering employees with the tools they need, remote work can be a win-win for both employees and employers.

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work is a mixture of in-office and at-home work. Some hybrid models in certain industries let everyone work from home on certain days and require in-office work on other days. Other models have some fully remote employees and some fully in-office employees. It all depends on the company and the industry.

What are the pros of hybrid work?

Many believe that hybrid work captures the best of both worlds: the best of remote work AND the best of in-office work. With this model of work, you really can have your cake and eat it too! Here are some of the best benefits of hybrid work:

  • Gives employees the freedom to choose. When employees have the ability to choose where they work, they have a better sense of belonging, more motivation, higher productivity levels, more trust in their peers and leaders, and even better mental health. Every employee can choose what works best for them, which also increases work-life balance.
  • Provides a distinction between focus time and collaboration time. With some days in the office and some at home, meetings can be reserved for in-office time, allowing everyone to come ready to collaborate in-person. Then, when people are home, they can focus more on their personal work and tasks, without distractions.
  • Allows for an adaptable workplace. We all remember how stressful it was transitioning everyone to remote work during the pandemic. But with a hybrid work model in place, your company will be ready to switch to completely remote at the drop of a hat. This is great in case of a disaster or if the company simply wants to transition to fully remote to save money.
  • Makes employees happier and more productive. Surveys show that hybrid employees have stronger connections with their peers, greater levels of engagement, and more productivity than their fully in-office or remote peers. Need we say more?

Hybrid workplaces are growing in popularity, and with good reason. It can be a great option for many companies.

What are the cons of hybrid work?

Some of the cons of hybrid work are similar to those of remote work, such as reduced social interactions, but the below challenges are specific for a hybrid workplace:

  • Increased feelings of being left out. Remote employees often feel as though they aren’t part of the team when others all work in-person together. On a related note, managers and leaders may find themselves wanting to recognize or reward the employees they see in person more than their remote peers.
  • Difficulty managing hybrid schedules. With greater flexibility comes greater…uh, managerial headaches? Keeping track of a lot of different hybrid schedules isn’t easy, and it can be hard to get everyone together to collaborate or even find a time for everyone to attend a meeting.
  • Increased feelings of favoritism. Remote work only works for certain positions. Other positions don’t allow for any remote work at all. These employees who are stuck at the office every day may get jealous of those who can go home a few times per week.

To us, the fantastic benefits of hybrid work far outweigh the potential downsides; as long as you take time to set up the framework to minimize any managerial stress and ensure employees are properly cared for, this is a great option for nearly any workplace.

How can you make the most of hybrid work?

Figuring out a hybrid model that works for you can feel like solving one of those wooden puzzles your grandma often gives you for Christmas—confusing and intimidating, and you may not even know where to start! (Maybe the wood puzzle thing is just us…but the metaphor still works.) Here are some great ideas to start implementing your own hybrid model:

  • Really lean into employee choice. If at all possible, let your employees choose when and where they work. Some people may enjoy going into the office regularly and others may prefer staying home most days. Forcing employees to do something they don’t want to (especially if they’ve already had a taste of the hybrid model) is the best way to breed discontent and unhappiness.
  • Consider new workflows in detail. Having hybrid employees necessitates new workflows for tasks and projects. Plan out  ways that everyone can coordinate, cooperate, and collaborate in a way that works with everyone’s schedules. Experiment with different meetings and schedules, and adjust as you learn more.
  • Make plans for fairness and inclusion. You don’t want either WFH or in-office employees to feel left out for any reason. So make sure you have plans to include them all. You could give employees who are stuck in-office some extra PTO, or make sure to regularly recognize employees who stay remote most of the time.
  • Trust and empower your employees. This one’s big. Hybrid work is scary for employers because they don’t know if employees are productive at home, and they don’t want them to miss out on in-office interactions. But you have to trust employees to do what’s best for them AND for the company. Provide the tools and support that employees need, and then trust that they’ll give you their best.

Remote and hybrid work: the way of the future.

Whether you’ve decided to go fully remote or embrace a hybrid workplace, your employees will love the greater freedom and work-life balance these changes will bring. And with the above advice, you can make this transition smoother, easier, and more effective for both employers and employees. Talk with us at Awardco to learn more about how you can use recognition to engage, motivate, and appreciate remote and hybrid employees.

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