Many business owners are struggling to decide whether to bring employees back to the office after the pandemic. Should you bring all your employees back into the office full time? Should you continue providing remote work opportunities or settle into a permanent hybrid work model?
The short answer to all these questions is: it depends. The right strategy will vary based on factors unique to your business, industry, talent pool, and priorities as an organization.
Breaking Down Hybrid & Remote Work Models
We often discuss “remote work” and “hybrid work” as distinct modes of operation, but the lines are not always so clear. Our HR pros have broken down the concrete options available to you, and the pros and cons of each, to help further guide your company’s work strategy.
Full-time office model. There is, of course, the option to return to the pre-pandemic baseline of full-time work in the office for all employees.
This model offers benefits like consistency, collaboration, and socialization. However, “flexibility” is increasingly becoming the battleground in the war for talent. If you are not providing any flexibility, you will likely have more trouble finding and keeping your people.
Office-centric hybrid. The office-centric hybrid model still makes the office the hub of your company but allows for some flexibility. This might mean providing one or two days each week where employees have the option to work at home. For example, you might make Mondays or Fridays office-optional.
We find this model is very successful for many organizations, allowing for high productivity and team collaboration. Although with at least 16% of Americans likely to continue working from home post-pandemic, you will miss out on some recruitment possibilities without a remote option.
Remote-friendly work is similar to the office-centric hybrid model, but you also have a certain percentage of your employees, say 10 to 25 percent, working fully remote. This allows for a wider recruitment pool, as you can appeal to nonlocal talent and people who prefer to work from home, while still keeping a strong company culture.
With that said, you need a strong HR strategy to prevent a “two-tier” employee system from developing, where in-office workers have access to more information, executive facetime, and promotion opportunities – while remote workers are left with little interaction. Company leadership must ensure they are communicating with all employees, which means tools like Slack and Zoom will continue to be mainstays.
Fully remote model. The remote model means that employees work remotely by default. Your processes, systems, and culture are built around remote workers, not in-office workers. Remote-first work means there is no need for an office space, which significantly reduces overhead and allows you to source talent from anywhere. However, employee bonds can be harder to build in fully remote work models, so you will need to make sure you are maintaining a strong culture, encouraging collaboration among employees, and promoting a healthy and connected working environment.
Let Your Priorities Guide Your Work Strategy
Each work model comes with its own trade-offs. When thinking about the right approach for your company, consider core factors like productivity, culture, and recruitment. Your company leadership should be asking questions like:
- Have you found employees are more productive in the office, at home, or in a hybrid work schedule?
- Is a strong in-office culture important to your success? Could you adapt that culture to include hybrid and remote workers?
- Do you struggle to hire? Would offering flexible and remote work opportunities help you increase your talent pool, or do you already have a strong pipeline of available talent?
In addition to these ideas, we strongly recommend discovering your employees’ priorities as well. Conducting employee surveys (free options include SurveyPlanet and SurveyLegend) can help you understand what they are looking for and help you tailor a work strategy that will optimize employee performance and retention.
Ask us your Human Resources and talent management questions via the online chat tool in the lower left corner of your screen. We love helping companies align their people with their business needs, and we love to share what we know.