“Do you want to access talent everywhere, or just in specific markets? If the answer is everywhere you need to be at least open to the possibility of remote work.”—Katie Burke
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic served as a major catalyst for change in modern work culture. Prevented from leaving home during lockdown, millions of workers turned their homes into their offices. And it turns out, a large percentage of them like it that way.
Although stress and anxiety levels have skyrocketed for multiple reasons over the past two years, something that has taken many of us by surprise is the speedy nature in which so many companies adapted to remote working and hybrid workforce models.
The freedom to work from home used to be almost exclusively reserved for privileged, mold-breaking Millennials or those with a specialized medical exemption. Now, having had a taste of just how satisfying remote work can be, those niche demographics have grown into a blossoming majority.
In fact, a recent survey from McKinsey & Co shows that 80% of employees are questioning whether they enjoy working from home.
However, this newly commodified approach to work does not come without setbacks.
Some people thrive in an office environment, and others do not live in spaces that provide the kind of quiet and orderliness necessary for doing their job well. Some report feeling drained and unmotivated without the hustle and bustle of a shared office.
In this article, we’ll look at the various pros and cons of these two very different modalities of work culture and how fusing them together could be the secret to success.
Hybrid and Remote Workforce
A hybrid workforce is exactly what it sounds like: a workforce split between office workers and remote workers, full time employees, part time employees, independent contractors and contingent workers. It’s a term coined only recently as regulations around lockdown have shifted into more flexible territory, allowing some workers to return to work as per usual.
This refreshing flexibility has raised the question. Now that we can all go back to work, should we?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. The decision of whether or not to return to an office-centric work style really depends on two things—individual preference, and individual responsibility.
Some people simply prefer the lifestyle that comes alongside remote work. They can omit the rush of traffic, set their own break times, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the most familiar place in the world. They feel more comfortable, allowing for improved productivity and engagement.
On the other hand, there are some jobs that simply don’t work outside of a collaborative office space. Teamwork, for example, often becomes much more strained and dysfunctional when everyone gets dispersed, making communication and productivity start to drop.
There are also practical issues to consider. Not everyone has access to a printer, scanner, or even a decent quality computer at home, and therefore cannot be expected to perform at their peak when working within a remote setting. In this way, they’re forced to relinquish some responsibility.
A solution to all of these complications is becoming glaringly obvious. Those who perform better at home should have the option to stay there, and those who perform better in an office should return—having the freedom to flow between both depending on the project or circumstances at play.
Sounds simple? Let’s discuss the advantages.
The Advantages Of Office Hybridization
There are several distinct advantages to bringing more flexibility into the workforce. It allows for your workforce to carve out an approach to work that suits their needs exactly, quite significantly increasing productivity and engagement.
But the advantages to a hybrid office extend beyond just individual gratification. Companies and businesses can also reap some benefits from this meeting of two worlds.
Increase your talent pool
Increasing the level of talent within an organization is an important part of company growth. Hiring locally might advertise an interest in the community. But it can be limiting in terms of what talent you can attract in the long run.
Hybridizing your office means opening up your workforce to a much broader selection of talent, many of which can add tremendous value to the workforce. Talent can now be sourced, engaged and managed worldwide.
There are plenty of highly accomplished professionals seeking both traditional and remote work options and who work independently, and your company could be one of the growing number that offer both. This is particularly true for skills that are currently in high demand, such as IT and financial management.
Employee happiness and satisfaction
There’s a lot to be said about the positive impact work flexibility can have on an employee’s mental health. Numerous surveys have consistently reported increased happiness, motivation, productivity and job satisfaction when given the option to work interchangeably between home and office.
Another practical benefit to hybridizing the workplace is the reduced costs that come along with it. With fewer employees frequenting the office, reductions in supplies and even rent are a possibility. There are fewer desks to account for, less foot traffic, and less overall pressure on the office to provide amenities.
Once your company develops a clearer idea of how many employees would like to work remotely as opposed to in the office, it can start to focus on accommodating a more transient space for both sets of employees to enjoy.
When people feel like their own needs are being met, they are a lot more likely to be friendly and accommodating in collaborating as a team. Exclusively remote collaboration can be exhausting and anxiety-inducing, as can exclusively office-based collaboration.
A fusion of the two allows for employees to engage with their colleagues in whichever way feels best at the time. They can choose to engage with team members face-to-face for intensive collaboration sessions, and then retreat back to their own space for more intensive, distraction-free hours.
Office Hybridization Is The Way Forward
Studies show that there are positives and negatives to remote working and traditional office setups. Hybridization takes the best bits of these two very different approaches to work and invites them to coexist simultaneously. If the 2020s have taught us anything, it’s that life and business are all about balance.
CXC is a global HR outsourcing organization with 30 years of experience in workforce management. Our innovative and cost-effective solutions help companies gain a competitive advantage by improving efficiency while reducing risks.