July 21, 2022

Which Working Model is the Most Effective for Your Business?

With remote working at an all-time high, globalisation supported by technological developments, and the growing demand for employee flexibility and freedom, there is no longer a cross-industry standard for working models in business.

Finding the right model for your organisation is essential because it has become a deciding factor for many employees. 55% of employees say flexible working will impact their decision to stay at their current jobs. 

Implementing this new level of flexibility can benefit the company as a whole. What is now being termed 'human-centric work design', where employee needs on a personal level are prioritised in operational decisions such as flexible work, can increase employee performance by as much as 54%.

Although, the decision on whether to go fully remote, hybrid or stay in-office involves many factors. 

So, what are the benefits and drawbacks of each of the main working models? 

Remote: Is it the pinnacle of work-life balance?

While remote working was necessary during the pandemic, about a third of the global workforce has embraced this new set-up because of its benefits. That's not to say it is without challenges. 

Advantages: Remote working can boost productivity because employees can work on a schedule that suits them, finding time for personal commitments that improve general well-being. Avoiding the commute is a significant benefit for businesses based in busy cities, saving time and energy while boosting productivity and contributing to sustainability commitments. 

A physical office can be a costly burden on growing businesses, so online tools are more efficient. This is even more beneficial when considering how location independence opens up the talent businesses can employ from the gig economy

Disadvantages: However, remote working does make organisations dependent on technology. It can disrupt the workflow if one team member has bad Wi-Fi or an essential tool goes down. It might not be preferential for employees either. For some, maintaining a work-life balance is more challenging because their work and personal life blend into one. Furthermore, physical contact cannot be replicated online, even with current technological developments. So a lack of synergy and signature company culture is a risk with remote working. It remains a good entry point for technologically minded start-ups.

In-Office: Is physical contact worth the cost?

In-office working is the most familiar and is still preferential for industries that thrive on collaboration. Communication flows freely, and building team relationships and fostering productive collaboration is easier. This is enabled by faster decision-making without the delay of waiting on a digital response. 

Advantages: Monitoring employee productivity and well-being in person gives a rounder picture of how they are doing and what support they could benefit from. In-office work doesn't mean a total loss of freedom either because employees can still have some say over what hours they come into the office. 

Disadvantages: Set office hours don't prevent employees from working out of hours. Further measures are needed to nurture a culture of well-being in the workplace. Many companies are conscious of this and invest in their employees. If employees strongly prefer a working style, not having that option can create dissatisfaction and lower productivity. Especially as "82% of employees agree it is important that their organisation sees them as a person, not just an employee". For some businesses, the cost of a physical office just isn't worth it, especially compared to the opportunities being location-independent provides. 

Hybrid: Is it the best of both worlds, or does it just complicate things?

Having a mix of remote and in-office working has become the post-pandemic compromise. This model's application varies, with in-office dominant and remote dominant options available. Who decides the schedule (employer or employee) is also a variable. Schedules can be drawn up based on department. This allows for the benefits of both remote and in-office working. 

Advantages: Effective collaboration is enabled alongside self-managed independent working. Employees can embrace their own working style, increasing their individual productivity. Office costs will still be reduced with a smaller office or only renting for certain days of the week, and maintenance costs will undoubtedly be lower. It's easier to keep an eye on work hours and well-being with some physical contact. 

Disadvantages: With some employees at the office and others at home, the workflow can be disjointed, especially if teams don't communicate their plans ahead of time. If not managed closely, there is the potential for a divide between employees with a remote preference and those with an in-office preference. Building a positive work culture takes more effort in a hybrid work environment. When questioned, 61% of HR managers said that culture was more important in hybrid working than on-site working.  

The challenge of maintaining strong company culture isn't the only drawback. It could be costly to transition to and maintain, so it is best suited to more established businesses. This is because hybrid working requires resources to accommodate both in-office and digital working environments with communication between them.

Hybrid, remote or in-office: What's the best model for your business?

Adaptable working models are just one way the human-centric approach to business is taking shape today. Each company is unique so their work model should be too. As each model has benefits and drawbacks, it depends on the organisation's priorities. Before settling on a model, it's well worth finding out your team's preferences and whether in-office, remote or hybrid working best meets their needs.

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