Work-from-Home, On-Site, or Hybrid Work Models: Here How to Choose Right for Your Business

The return to the office has not been smooth or clean. Though 49% of employees are returning on-site, some who acclimated to work-from-home (WFH) are resisting the directive from management. In fact, a record 4.4 million Americans in April and 4.3 million Americans in May quit or changed jobs, which may reflect just how unpopular the initiative is among professionals.

On the flip side, some business leaders believe remaining fully virtual is a total mistake. A recent Microsoft Work Trends Index found that while 80% of professionals believed remote work boosted productivity, 54% of leaders felt it reduced the output of their teams and organizations.

The challenge for any organization is finding an acceptable compromise and creating a tailored workplace model where collaboration, delivery, and satisfaction thrive. Frankly, achieving all three might require you to blend your working arrangement. So, as you navigate what is right for your organization, here are some advantages of work-from-home, on-site, and hybrid work models to consider.

The Advantages of Work-from-Home

As Ed Zitron, CEO of PR firm EZPR, put it in an Atlantic op-ed, leaders are “forced to argue with the tangible proof of their still-standing business.” Corporations survived the pandemic and, though the shift to remote work was involuntary, learned some positive lessons that are worth implementing long term.

For starters, remote operations had an interesting impact on morale. Though remote employees appear to work longer hours (SHRM studies earlier in the pandemic revealed workers logged 45% more hours than on-site),  many employees surprisingly feel happier.

A survey conducted by Tracking Happiness found that people who were 100% remote were 19.32% happier than people who were 100% in the office. Factors ranging from increased sleep and family time to reduced commutes and disruptions helped boost work satisfaction. People felt they had greater control over their time.

Additionally, there’s been a rise in worker productivity. Research conducted in a joint effort by Stanford University, The Booth School of Business, and Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico found a 5% productivity boost in the post-pandemic economy due to re-optimized working arrangements. In a remote setting, professionals have more authority over how and when they complete their tasks, allowing them to optimize their daily schedules around their hours of peak performance.

More than just improving employee output, the shift to remote operations has even expanded workforce opportunities at the organizational level. Heyward Donigan, CEO of Rite AID, said, “I had a philosophy that I want to hire the best and the brightest even if they work from a different location, and now, ironically, we’re all working from another location. We’ve learned that we can work remote, and we can now hire and manage a company remotely.” The shift to virtual work has demonstrated that local talent shortages are surmountable by removing physical boundaries from the candidate search, controling salary costs and even reducing the length of vacancies.

The Advantages of Returning to the Office

Though some advocates of remote work attribute any reservations to WFH arrangements as retrogressive thinking, there are genuine and inherent benefits to on-site work that virtual organizations must, by nature of their setup, work harder to replicate. Often, these advantages pertain to collaboration, connectivity, and company culture.

A survey conducted by Buffer about the 2022 State of Remote Work identifies a wide variety of challenges. One has to do with career growth, which 45% of remote workers say is more difficult for them to achieve. Face-to-face time in the office is naturally better suited for building bonds with management. Though not impossible to make strong connections virtually, leadership needs to apply conscious effort to engage with team members via video calls or business chat platforms to do so.

Another big challenge that routinely arises in various Buffer State of Remote Work survey results is isolation. Almost one in four remote workers feel lonely on the job, missing the spontaneous interactions with coworkers that start relationships and fortify deep connections between your people. As a result, your organization might miss the creativity generated when great minds come together. Again, you can achieve some level of remote-worker connectivity by scheduling virtual events (casual one-on-ones, all team meetings, etc.), but you’ll need to be intentional and proactive about them.

Additionally, on-site work is much more amenable to creating boundaries between work and personal life. Though there are still workaholics or corporations that do not respect the boundaries of their people, it’s less likely to become the default on-site compared to WFH. When your work computer is only a few steps away from your bedroom or breakfast nook, it’s tempting to squeeze in extra time when pressure is particularly high, which can cause burnout if management fails to help employees stay balanced.

Using a Hybrid Work Model to Achieve the Best of Both Worlds

With advantages to both ways of work, there’s a compelling case for cultivating a hybrid working model. Though the specifics will look different for each organization, there are key considerations to keep in mind as you unlock the best of both.

For starters, it’s good to determine the minimum amount of time you need to offer remote work. Research finds that in the minds of many Americans, working from home two to three times a week can be comparable to a 5.96% pay raise. That’s not only great insight for hiring and retaining employees but a solid starting point for any hybrid work plan.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, organizations can choose a primarily work-from-home arrangement with limited face-to-face interaction. In this scenario, the office operates as a destination your team members visits to create stronger connections and innovate. Whether through planned events or impromptu visits whenever people want to get out of the house, your office can provide people with an ideal and open venue for collaboration.

The process of creating a hybrid work environment will take time, full of trial and error. However, the result will be one where your employees and leadership are satisfied by the balance and doing their best no matter where they are.

Looking for ways to innovate beyond a hybrid work model? Check out our blogs for the latest insights from the w3r Consulting team on running a competitive business for today’s working world.