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Remote First vs. Hybrid: Differences, Challenges & Advantages

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 — August 2nd, 2022

Remote First vs. Hybrid: Differences, Challenges & Advantages

The sudden closure of offices and workplaces during the pandemic has permanently altered how the workforce operates.

In 2020, almost overnight, a new era of working was ushered in as employers were forced to begin managing their businesses and employees remotely.

It’s now been deemed safe to return to the office. Still, having noticed significant benefits, some businesses have decided to stick with a remote first work policy.

Employees themselves have become accustomed to the flexibility and convenience offered by remote work, with many no longer wishing to return to the office.

Other organizations have found a balance between remote and office work with a hybrid work model. This model allows employees to split their time between the office and remote environments.

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Retention — It's all About the Communications Experience

What is the difference between remote working and hybrid working?


Both remote first and hybrid work models allow employees to work from home. However, there are key differences between the two terms.

The remote first model is an organizational strategy that makes working from home the primary option for all employees. Remote first means that few (if any) workers are required to perform their jobs in a physical office space.

On the other hand, a hybrid work model allows employees to work partly in the physical workplace and partly remotely. Hybrid working often enables employees to choose to work wherever and however they are most productive.

The hybrid work model can work in many different ways. For example, some businesses give all employees an equal split between the days they work onsite and the days they work from home.

Other organizations allow their employees the freedom to choose when to visit the office and when to work remotely.

Another way employers implement hybrid working is to assign specific employees to work full-time in the office and others to work full-time from home. This will usually be dependent on the nature of the employee's work.

Advantages of a remote first work model


Better Work-Life Balance

Many remote jobs offer workers flexible schedules where they can choose when to start and end their workday as long as their work is complete.

Less commute stress

The average commuting time in the US is 27 minutes each way; that's nearly an hour each day spent getting to and from work. Remote working gives this valuable time back to employees.

Work from anywhere

Working remotely means remote team members can work from anywhere, not just at home. Communal workspaces, coffee shops, restaurants, beaches, and sometimes other countries, are all options for remote team members.

Promotes employee wellbeing

With no commute and no extra time spent in the office, working from home can improve the health and wellness of employees. Not only does remote working fight stress and fatigue, but it keeps remote team members safe from germs and viruses that can spread in an office environment.

Saves money

Employees who work remotely don't have to worry about everyday expenses, like travel and parking. Operating remotely also saves employers money as they no longer have the cost of running a physical office space.

Challenges of a remote first work model

Feelings of isolation

Many remote team members enjoy working alone without the distractions of an office. However, others find it difficult. Spending long hours in a room alone with no face-to-face interaction can be lonely and isolating for these workers.

Security risks

When employees use their personal laptops to work from home, it exposes the organization to security leaks, online hacking, or external breaches.

Distractions

From kids, pets, hobbies, and TV, remote workers can face many more distractions at home than they ever did in the office.

Decreased motivation

Spending time in an office with employees who share a common purpose helps motivate workers. When working remotely, it can be challenging for employees to maintain that sense of motivation when they have no team around to offer encouragement.

Dependency on technology

Reliance on technology is another disadvantage of remote working. An internet connection issue at an employee's home or remote working space can easily cause interruptions to their work.

Advantages of a hybrid work model

Reduced operating costs

With fewer employees in the office, organizations need less physical space. This means the hybrid model reduces the cost of real estate, utilities and office supplies.

Increased productivity

In a recent survey, 78% of workers agreed that they'd be more productive if they could choose to work onsite or remotely when they wanted.

Reduced carbon footprint

The hybrid work model reduces the number of days employees drive or take public transport to work per week, positively impacting the environment.

Improved employee wellbeing

A hybrid working model can help employees' mental health by offering freedom and flexibility. Many hybrid companies allow employees to find a balance between in-person and remote working that works best for them and their personal circumstances.

Greater job satisfaction

According to research, employees working in a hybrid model are more satisfied with their jobs than those working exclusively at home or onsite.

Challenges of a hybrid work model

Increased risk of burnout

It's not uncommon for aculture of overworking to creep into a hybrid workplace model. Remote team members may work longer hours and take shorter breaks than their in-office colleagues. A report by Owl Labs found that 55% of hybrid workers say they work more hours remotely than at the physical office.

Team-building is difficult

In some cases, hybrid working can make team-building difficult as employees see less of each other. When some employees continue to work in the office, cliques are often created, leaving remote workers feeling left out.

Only works for some businesses

Hybrid working only works for some companies. For instance, industries like construction and engineering require their workers to be onsite.

Missed opportunities for promotion

Employees working remotely full-time under a hybrid model have a higher risk of being passed over for promotions in favor of their onsite peers.

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Retention — It's all About the Communications Experience

Key Takeaway

Although there are similarities between the two work models, remote first working and hybrid working are different. A remote first work model means few, if any, employees work onsite. On the other hand, a hybrid work model allows employees to work remotely but only part-time. The other half of their time is spent in the office. Specific hybrid models are designed to enable some workers to work full-time from home and some full time remotely.

When examining both hybrid and remote working, both advantages and disadvantages of each model are clear. It is up to employers to decide if either of these working models is right for them.

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