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Hybrid, Remote, or Office? Which is Best for Culture?

Updated: Apr 25

Working Model and Culture

Culture is a crucial component of company performance. Companies with a strong culture see a 400% increase in revenue growth compared to companies with a weak culture. As Louis Gerstner said: “Culture isn't just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value”.


There are 9 key components of culture. These are vision & values, processes, communication, leadership, learning & development, environment, recognition, compensation, and wellbeing. Your workplace model plays a big role in three of those: communication, environment, and wellbeing. In recent years, maintaining and improving culture has become even more difficult. 56% of HR leaders say their company culture has deteriorated over the past 12 months.


One of the most challenging issues facing companies currently is their working model. Culture is a key component of this. Staff need plenty of time together to build team bonds and improve understanding. However, if staff are reluctant to return to the office, it will be bad for your culture to force them back. So what do you do?


Over the last 3 years, we’ve helped many companies develop a workspace strategy, choose a working model, and then design and build a workspace to facilitate that. Alongside productivity and talent, culture is one of the most common concerns.


Here, we’ll explain the culture factors affecting each working model. By the end, you’ll be better educated about working models and HR strategies, and better prepared to choose your working model.


Of course, culture is only one part of the working model puzzle. There are also a host of other important factors, such as productivity, talent, and real estate costs. To learn more about those, download your working model guide. It compares each working model by 7 key criteria, and helps you choose the right working model for your company.


Remote Working

In a remote working model, all your staff work remote (not necessarily at home) all the time. This is popular with a lot of staff, as it is very convenient and allows significant cost savings for staff. As a result of this popularity, it can increase the morale and job satisfaction of staff.


However, there are serious cultural drawbacks to a remote working model. It is very difficult to build and maintain a good company culture when staff rarely meet each other. It is possible to maintain existing relationships, but building new ones is very difficult. Gallup research has shown that “employees who work virtually are even more disconnected from core cultural components”.


Hybrid Working

Hybrid working can mean many things, from the common 3-2 model to core office hours. Different forms of hybrid working will have different implications for your culture. However, with hybrid working, you get most of the benefits of both remote and in-office working, and this is no different for culture. While staff get the autonomy and convenience of working from home part-time, they also get plenty of time with their colleagues in person.


Hybrid working can be complicated to manage and monitor, to ensure you are getting the cultural benefits you need. Inevitably, teams will have less face time, which will limit culture and communication. Moreover, hybrid working will reduce cross-team in-person communication, which is crucial to avoid siloed sub-cultures.


Office Working

The default model for hundreds of years, working all day every day in the office is no longer automatic. However, there is no doubt that having staff in the same space full-time is best for culture. According to research by Microsoft, the value of the office is just as much in the people as the place. This means having all your staff together all the time will help build team bonds and improve performance in the long term.


However, getting staff back to the office doesn’t guarantee a great culture. If you try to force staff back to the office against their will, they will have very low job satisfaction. This will reduce their performance and many may resign. This situation would obviously be very bad for your culture. You need to attract, not force, your people back to the office.


Choosing Your Working Model

There are a lot of different factors that impact which working model is the best for you. These include your industry, strategy, growth plans, talent, workforce demographics, and much more. All these are unique to you, so there is no answer to “Which is the best working model? Which is best for your company depends on your unique circumstances.


From a culture perspective, in-office working is the best option. This working model provides the most face-to-face time, and much more socialisation time than either of the other working models. As a result, team bonds and understanding are much stronger, leading to higher team performance over time.


Now that you know about the cultural benefits and drawbacks of each working model, you’re better prepared to help choose your company’s working model. This will have a major impact on the performance of your people in the years to come, so it’s critical to get this decision right. To learn more about choosing your working model, read this article.


To learn more about the other factors affecting which working model is best for you, download your working model guide. It compares each working model by 7 key criteria, and helps you choose the right working model for your company.

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