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Remote vs Hybrid: Which Setup Works Best?

  • BenQ
  • 2020-09-30

When showing up to the office becomes unfeasible, organizations are compelled to choose: Do they adopt hybrid working and have a portion of their employees work remotely, or do they forgo the office completely and go fully remote?

Whether you’re a firm believer of a permanent “new normal”—a completely altered way of doing business—or are part of the camp which sees telecommuting as an interim solution to unforeseen risks, one thing is now for sure: Your organization needs to be ready to transition to either an all-remote or hybrid working setup whenever the need arises.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several high-profile companies announced their operational plans for the remainder of 2020. 1 Both Amazon and Microsoft have allowed their employees to work remotely until October, while other tech giants like Google have extended this option until the end of the year. Twitter even went further by giving its employees the option to work from home permanently.

These shifts from industry leaders signal how several companies may now operate moving forward. Two ways to implement this change, as mentioned earlier, is going all-remote or hybrid. An all-remote setup allows employees to work from their places of residence, meeting with fellow remote workers through video conferencing whenever necessary. Here, having a physical office is optional.

For hybrid work setups, on the other hand, there are still dedicated office spaces and employees are still required to be physically present at the office to fulfill their responsibilities. What makes these setups hybrid is that a significant portion of the workers are performing their tasks remotely—either from a different office site or from their respective homes. They, too, communicate and co-work with offsite peers and stakeholders through video conferencing and other innovative collaboration solutions.

Both setups offer several advantages. Knowing them will make it easy for organizations to decide which mode will suit their operational strategies more.

Overhead costs

As part of their initiatives to give their employees more flexible work options, companies like Pinterest have begun reallocating expenses that would normally be part of their overhead coverage. This August, the company announced they were canceling a lease for a new building to adapt to changes in their working structure. Organizations can save on rent and upkeep expenses by going fully remote or opting for smaller offices that only house essential workers. For hybrid setups, organizations may opt to downsize their office spaces, but their operating costs may more or less stay the same.
Talent pool

Allowing at least a part a workforce to work remotely eases up the location-based factors that would otherwise impede recruitment and talent acquisition. Since employees can work from home, organizations can extend opportunities to qualified candidates regardless of where they are geographically. Doing so also diversifies teams. By pooling in people from different regions, teams become more heterogeneous—meaning you get more culturally rich workgroups with a wide variety of perspectives that can prove useful during ideation and decision-making processes.

Employee retention

Remote working may also improve employee retention. In an article published by Forbes, they stated that 54% of employees would switch jobs if they find one that provided better flexibility. Employee turnover also goes down by 12% when employers give their employees the option to work remotely.
Remote and hybrid working comparison
Comfort & satisfaction

Since home-based employees have the freedom to work within the comfort of their own spaces, they are likely to be more satisfied with their working conditions. Because home-based employees do not spend extra hours preparing for the workday and traveling to and from work, they have more time to devote to themselves. In special cases where employees have to take maternity leave, or they need to change residence, or their company transfers their operations to a different site, the impact of these events is also minimized.

Travel expenses

Depending on how hybrid work is implemented, some employees may experience the benefit of spending less to get to work. If they are only required to show up for specific days, they do not have to shell out as much for gas or fares as compared to when they have to clock in at the office every day. For fully remote workers, these expenses are eliminated completely.

Disease transmission

In terms of mitigating diseases transmission, remote work is the clear better option since coworkers never get to share the same physical space together. For hybrid work, management can opt to only have essential workers show up for critical functions, provided that they adhere to strict safety measures. But since the hybrid working setup already assumes that a remote working infrastructure is in place, it may be best to transition to all-remote mode until face-to-face interactions are deemed safe.

Once you’ve decided which setup works best for your organization, it’s time to check what you need in order to transition to a fully remote or hybrid working setup. What type of tools and infrastructure are required to make the shift happen? What social factors do you also have to consider? Go through our Remote and Hybrid Working Checklist for details. 

References

1.Harper, J., 'Coronavirus: Flexible Working Will Be a New Normal after Virus', BBC News, BBC, www.bbc.com/news/business-52765165, 22 May 2020, last accessed 11 September 2020.

2.Alexander, S., 'Pinterest Nixes Big San Francisco Lease Deal in Covid Scaleback', Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-28/pinterest-nixes-big-san-francisco-lease-deal-in-covid-scaleback, 29 August 2020, last accessed 11 September 2020.

3.Farrer, L., '5 Proven Benefits of Remote Work for Companies', Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2020/02/12/top-5-benefits-of-remote-work-for-companies, 12 February 2020, last accessed 11 September 2020.