What is hybrid vs. remote work? Learn more about the differences
Working remotely became the norm during the pandemic, but as employees were required to return to the office, the hybrid work model became the new buzzword. The term 'hybrid' is defined as 'a thing made by combining two different elements.' The idea behind this concept is the ability to work both remotely and in the office. However, people are often confused about the differences between remote and hybrid work. It's time to stop comparing apples to oranges. To fully understand each concept, we will provide an in-depth explanation of both.
What is remote working?
Remote work is based on the idea that employees don’t have to be physically present at the office to carry out their daily tasks. A remote team consists of various individuals who work from their home office, a co-working space or a beach in Thailand. Many employees feel that their work life balance is improved when they have flexible schedules.
Digitalization drives remote work models
The origin of remote work stems from digitalization and technological inventions. The remote team members will only need access to wifi, a laptop and a team chat or/and e-mail to work remotely. Younger generations are digitally native and can move seamlessly between the digital and physical sphere.
In the near future, the term 'digital' might even lose its meaning, since the online world will be merged with the offline world. Shortly put, both technology and our mindset have enabled remote work.
Hybrid work model on the rise
Have you ever come across the term hybrid work? You might have read one or two articles about the new work model or even had it implemented in your workplace. As the name suggests, it is actually a mix between working remotely and in the office.
Every company launched their own version and allowed the employees to work remotely to a larger or smaller extent. Some businesses have set days for working in the office and remotely respectively and still call it a hybrid work model. A hybrid worker can work remotely, but a 100% remote worker is by no means a hybrid one.
What is the main difference between a hybrid workplace model and remote work?
Many confuse hybrid work with remote work. The key difference here is the amount of flexibility, which also makes the hybrid work model complex. Remote work or in-office work is more of a question of black and white. Hybrid work means switching seamlessly between the two.
Which model offers more flexibility?
Even if employees can shift between the office and home office, remote work is slightly more flexible when it comes to the actual workday since you can work from anywhere. You have more influence over how work is actually carried out since you do not need to attend office-meetings with colleagues or clients. It frees up the day to a larger extent.
Moreover, remote work is not only limited to a particular geographic area. Basically, a company could hire anyone around the globe as long as they fit the job description. With hybrid work, you would still have to hire someone who could come by the office on a regular basis.
Same tasks with a remote and hybrid model
No matter where you are: in the office, in your home office, or working in co-working spaces, you will give your work assignments equal importance and keep an open communication with coworkers and team leaders.
An office space designed for flexibility and hybrid working
The hybrid work model requires an office where colleagues can meet to have face-to-face interactions. Since the amount of workers who come to the office every day may fluctuate it is important to have the right processes in place. The design of the office space should be taken into consideration with different sections such as hot desks, smaller meeting rooms and lounges.
A streamlined office space is not only beneficial for the employees but also for office managers who would like to cut down on overhead costs such as office space, maintenance and equipment. By analyzing occupancy in certain areas and during certain hours they can adjust cleaning, office lighting and layout in terms of furniture, plants and interior design.
What do remote and hybrid work have in common?
Despite the differences there are some key concepts which enable hybrid and remote work.
A remote and hybrid team is built on trust
With freedom comes responsibility, which applies to the remote- and hybrid work model. Back in the day, the managers might look over the shoulders of their employees to micro manage them. Now with the need for a highly skilled workforce, there has been a paradigm shift. The hierarchies are flatter and team work across all departments is crucial to avoid working in silos.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to build strong and competent teams which are comfortable with transparent communication. In order for each employee to work independently, managers would have to trust that they are capable and autonomous. When people are given more freedom and trust, they usually live up to the expectations and deliver great results.
Navigating bias in remote and hybrid work environments
In the world of remote and hybrid work, it's crucial to be aware of biases that can affect how we interact with our colleagues. One such bias, known as distance bias or proximity bias, discussed in Toptal's insightful article "Treating Remote Employees Fairly in a Hybrid Workplace" has gained attention in recent times. Distance bias is the unconscious tendency to favor employees who are physically closer, and it can have far-reaching consequences for businesses. As we explore the distinctions between remote and hybrid work models, it's essential to recognize and address biases like distance bias to ensure fair treatment for all employees.
Reliable work processes in the remote and hybrid company
When the employees do not meet up in the office the right work processes have to be in place to avoid reduced performance. The first step is to establish proper communication between the team members and other departments in the company. You can decide what means of communication suits each department best. It could be email, a CRM-system or a project management systems like Asana or Trello to be integrated with Slack and Teams. There are many different software solutions on the market and you would have to decide which one is a good fit. Depending on what you would like to achieve, a video conference or message thread might come in handy.
Maximize the use of communication platforms
A step towards solid hybrid/remote work processes is to decide what type of channel should be used for communication and how.
- Where do you celebrate wins, birthdays and future holidays?
- How do you notify the employees about new employees and similar?
- Where can the team be briefed?
- How do you organize one-to-ones and follow up meetings?
- How do you communicate with different stakeholders and clients?
Also, an important part of the remote setup is to make sure that employees have access to all equipment needed like a headset or video camera for video conferencing. Always encourage them to reach out if they need something.
Before a new solution is implemented, we advise you to always show a demo version to the employees and give them proper training. Make sure that they have someone to ask if problems arise. For instance, a ticket system for contacting IT-support will prevent any organizational bottle-necks.
A strong team with higher productivity
Previously, we have mentioned the importance of giving people freedom to work remotely. The responsibility of every single employee is key, but team spirit is also a must. When team members feel comfortable to communicate about different issues and get together to solve problems, productivity is increased.
Everyone should be encouraged to support their team, even if they work in an office or remotely from home. The risk with hybrid or remote work is that some employees might feel isolated and left out of the loop. To avoid this, team members must be included and be invited to meetings and more informal events.
Even if some members are 100 % remote, there is still a chance to invite them to a conference or big office event where they can meet their colleagues face to face. When colleagues get to know each other better, it is highly likely that work related misunderstandings will decrease in the future.
When everyone knows what role they have in a team and what their daily tasks are, the easier it will be to stay on top of things. By following up regularly in meetings, potential issues and risks will be identified.
Hybrid and remote work relies heavily on technology and internet access. No matter if you set up an entire remote team or have hybrid workers, the company is dependent on wifi and online communication. Company information can be vulnerable to hackers and therefore we urge you to set up security processes which protect valuable information, such as a VPN or spam filters.
The remote and hybrid employees can also receive training about phishing attempts through email or the phone, so that they are cautious and mindful when working online. If they work on open wifi's, they can be instructed to use a company VPN, for instance.
Should you work remotely or implement a hybrid work model?
Remote and hybrid work have a lot in common. Both require a certain amount of personal freedom and responsibility. Remote work to a larger extent than hybrid work. It's probably more likely that both management and employees will prefer the hybrid work model, especially if you are switching from 100 % in office-work to hybrid work.
Remote work is not everyone’s cup of tea since you never get to meet your colleagues in person. With that said, there are businesses and workers that cherish the remote model and base their whole business around it. When company’s choose remote first they might attract highly skilled and autonomous workers who are tuned in with these unique work processes. They might value the freedom to travel anywhere and switch up the work environment.
Hybrid work is probably the more complex of the two since it is more of a gray zone compared to remote work. It requires proper processes in place. At Flowscape, we are experts in the hybrid office and offer a software solution with a single app, with user friendly and practical features like desk booking and occupancy notifications.
Want guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?
Feel free to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts to learn more about our solutions and how technology can help you streamline your office processes without interfering with employees' day-to-day work.
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