The move from 100% office-based to hybrid and remote working options is firmly entrenched in today’s workplace culture. Four years ago, the pandemic changed the way we work forever, with research in 2023 showing only 30% of businesses still require employees to be based solely on site.
If you’re considering whether to take the plunge and go for a hybrid or remote working model, it’s important to consider which environment will have the most positive impact on your business.
So, what are the differences between a hybrid workspace and working remotely and which option would best suit your requirements?
What is flexible working?
Both models are flexible, as opposed to the traditional office space with a fixed 9-5 working day.
Hybrid working means employees can balance a combination of working from the office and remotely. They are largely free to base their schedule on personal work needs and productivity to meet the company’s goals.
A remote working model means individuals can work from anywhere including from home, a coffee shop or internet café. A team working 100% remotely doesn’t have a shared workspace and members contact each other through digital means.
Deciding whether to convert to a remote or hybrid working arrangement depends on your ability as a company to meet the high standards and quality that clients expect. Your company’s goals and whether you’ll be able to give employees the level of support they need in the setting you choose are also vital considerations.
Deciding on a bespoke workplace, rather than the traditional corporate set-up, involves careful planning to make sure it’s right for you.
The hybrid work model is growing in popularity, with research showing about 50% of employees today have a hybrid schedule.
There are several different types of hybrid arrangements: flexible, office-centric, remote-friendly and remote-first.
A flexible model gives the workforce what it says – a completely flexible schedule that lets them choose how much time they wish to spend working in the office or remotely.
An office-centric arrangement means staff will need to work from the office for most of the week. This is normally made official by setting out a written policy.
Employees are likely to enjoy at least some flexibility in their working week, as the employer will often permit them to choose the days they work from home.
A remote-friendly set-up means the business has clear guidelines about how its staff will work. This means they may be told which days they need to be at the office. There may also be a restriction on the duties they can carry out at home.
A remote-first company will permit most of staff to work remotely almost all of the time, but there will be some occasions when employees will be required to gather in the office.
Hybrid working advantages
Studies have suggested hybrid arrangements have some specific advantages over 100% remote companies.
They can create a better work/life balance by permitting individuals to use their most productive times to work and make business appointments, adjusting their schedules as required to encompass personal events.
Being able to choose working hours is seen as a crucial benefit, as it leads to greater job satisfaction, while improving emotional wellbeing and leading to improved productivity – factors which are beneficial to the company generally.
Employees who can collaborate with colleagues face-to-face at some point during the week enjoy improved in-person communication, rather than relying on digital means.
A practical advantage of hybrid working is that employees will have guaranteed access to a professional workspace and office materials.
Working from serviced offices is increasingly popular, as each company can concentrate on the important goal of growing their business, leaving the administrative and maintenance tasks of running the workspace to others.
Remote working enables individuals to work from wherever they prefer, as they don’t have a shared workspace. While this can have advantages in terms of flexibility, it can also have drawbacks.
Advantages include not having to pay a monthly rental fee for office space. However, this may be countered by the expense of each individual employee needing suitable furniture and tech equipment, plus a fast broadband connection, at home. If they don’t have these amenities already, the company may have to help provide them, which can be costly.
Studies have highlighted some specific disadvantages of remote work – the most damaging being a lack of face-to-face collaboration and no in-person communication. While companies managed working from home during the pandemic because they had no choice, video conferencing has its limits.
Meeting colleagues in-person makes it simpler to communicate effectively, as people tend to ask more questions and benefit from non-verbal responses when they speak to someone face-to-face. This can create more clarity within an organisation compared with communicating by email, phone, instant messages and other electronic means.
Remote employees are also more challenging to engage, while scheduling a meeting if people are in different regions and time zones can be difficult, especially when issues arise with technology.
People working fully remotely will miss the sense of community and camaraderie that an office brings, such as conversations over the coffee machine, or meeting in communal areas for an informal chat. It weakens interpersonal relationships and makes it difficult to develop any meaningful friendships.
Fully remote businesses will also need to consider the greater security needs when it comes to IT and private communications. The costs of preventing a possible breach can be significant.
Choosing a flexible workspace
Most companies will agree that a flexible workspace is a positive step for employees and the company.
It’s worth considering that plenty of major international companies embrace a hybrid working model, such as tech giant Microsoft, which offers workers several different options in relation to their workspace, hours and physical location. Microsoft bosses say a “one-size-fits-all” system simply doesn’t work, so they’re committed to providing flexibility for the future.
If you’ve decided to go for a hybrid approach and are interested in serviced offices, London is the hub of this type of modern workspace. BE Offices is a leading provider of office space in Paddington, where our thriving serviced offices occupy a modern building in Merchant Square.
When drawing up a plan for your company’s future, first ask yourself what you aim to accomplish and determine where your team will flourish best. Know your budget and decide whether a physical office space makes sense.
Having a professional business address with physical meeting rooms for clients can add credence to your organisation and establish greater trust for potential customers. If you think it could be for you, it might be time to take the next step.
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