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Hybrid vs Remote vs Hub & Spoke- Top 3 Working Models for 2022

The Changing World Of Work

Amid all the challenges that business executives and leaders face in 2022, the future of the way your people will work is one of your biggest. There is a lot of media conversation about working from home being so much better. There is even research citing how the best staff will quit if they can’t work from home.


However, you aren’t quite sure that this is the answer. Separated from colleagues, your staff may become more isolated and demotivated over time- at a serious cost to your business. The reality is a lot more nuanced than many of the opinions being thrown around.


Contrary to popular belief, remote working is not “the future”. The best option differs depending on your own business and people. Considerations such as culture, wellbeing, costs, and of course, performance will dictate what is best for your business. Over the last 2 years, we’ve helped numerous companies to discover the best working model for their needs, from PR agencies to financial services firms.


Only you can decide what is the best working model for your business in 2022. Besides in-office working, we’ve selected 3 of the most viable options. Read on to discover the pros and cons of each, and why (or why not) they might work for you.


It’s important to understand the differences between these 3 working models. Ultimately, all 3 aim to maximise the performance of your staff and company over the long term. The ways they go about this are very different. While they are often confused with each other, there are several key differences.


Remote

Simply put, fully remote working means all your staff working from home all the time. This is the simplest and most extreme method of dispersed working. It was almost unheard of until 2 years ago, but lockdowns across the world forced companies to implement remote working in a matter of days.


Even if home working has been a success at your company, don’t hand your office keys back just yet. You’ll need to be very careful about implementing this permanently. You will have much less control over many serious considerations, from data security to workstation ergonomics. While your people have been successful for a relatively short period of time, would it work as a permanent solution?


The first thing to consider when considering implementing remote working is staff and company performance. Remote working is great for personal and focussed tasks. More collaborative tasks, on the other hand, tend to have better results when done face-to-face. However, performance extends further than staff performance. The ultimate consideration has to be how well the company performs as a whole when working remotely.


Many staff feel that the lack of commute gives them more time to improve their wellbeing. The lack of distractions also makes it easier to get work done. On the other hand, for some workers, being removed from colleagues can be demotivating for more extroverted staff.


Communication is one of the more nuanced debates when it comes to working from home. Virtual meetings tend to be far more structured and focussed. This does, however, limit the chances staff have to brainstorm their way around the problems their team is facing.


For companies, the associated costs of staff working from home is a key concern. Office leases and facilities management costs would be almost eliminated. This could be a huge saving, as real estate is often the biggest expenditure after staffing. However, there are costs that will actually increase with remote working. For example, technology will likely have to be more portable, which comes at a cost.


Hybrid

Hybrid is emerging as the most popular working model for the years to come. It is often confused with remote, but it has one key difference: staff spend some of their time working from the office. There are many different variants of hybrid working. These differences revolve around the varying levels of personal control. The most common 3 options are office first, remote-first, and 3-2.


Office-first involves the office remaining as the default workplace. Workers can then make arrangements to work remote for a specific reason on a regular basis. This does not remove all flexibility but provides a less drastic option for organisations that rely on in-person interaction between team members.


Remote-first aligns most closely with remote working of all the hybrid working variants. By default, workers will remain dispersed unless they have a specific reason to come in. For instance, for a team meeting or to use a specialist facility.


The 3-2 hybrid model requires staff to spend three days in the office and two days at home or vice versa. This provides the best balance, and combined with a personalised flexible approach, encourages staff to use remote time for focussed work, and do collaborative teamwork when in the office with colleagues.


As always, the key considerations with hybrid working are the long-term performance and wellbeing of your staff and company. For many, hybrid strikes the right balance between in-office and remote. Staff can work on focused tasks alone at home with fewer distractions and then commute to the office for more collaborative, team-based tasks. This not only makes staff more productive but gives them a combination of autonomy and human connection.


It may appear as if hybrid is unnecessarily expensive: you still have nearly all the costs of an in-office model, with the extra expenses and risks of remote working. This may be true, but the increased productivity that can result from this model will far outweigh any extra costs.


The move to a hybrid model will eliminate the need for your staff to have their own workstation. This means you can renovate your office to include more collaborative areas for when your staff are in the office. You may also be able to reduce your total office space in the process.


Hub & Spoke

For some companies, working remotely is not practical. It might be due to the specialist equipment your people use or the way they work together. However, like all many other people, your staff probably dislike spending a lot of time commuting. A solution to this issue has risen in popularity over the last 2 years, known as the “hub & spoke” model.


It comprises a central office ‘hub’ with decentralised, satellite ‘spoke’ offices closer to where employees live. In contrast to the main headquarters of old, this approach enables employees to work from both central and local office spaces, depending on their needs.


Localised offices will enable staff to make shorter, more convenient journeys to a dedicated and fully equipped office. This will improve the wellbeing of your people, which will in turn increase business productivity and help to forge a strong sense of loyalty within your teams.

Cost-saving is a significant benefit of this model. By implementing local offices, you can downsize your current central location due to a reduction in the centralised workforce. Less square footage leads to lower overheads including rent, expenses, and business rates. If you aren’t ready to commit to several smaller offices, co-working spaces are a great way to trial this approach.


By having your people together more of the time, you are helping build better team cohesion and a stronger culture. Your people can have all the benefits from working with colleagues while working far closer from home.


This approach is only suitable for large companies that can justify several offices in different locations across the country. It also depends on where your staff live- if they are dispersed across a wide area, it may also be less effective. However, if the majority of your people live in concentrated pockets, it can be a very effective approach.


Which is Right for Me?

At this point, the main question in your head is simple: so which one is right for me? While only you can answer that question, there are several key points to consider.


If your staff require specialist equipment or close collaboration all day every day, remote working is unlikely to be suitable for you. Remote working can also be unsuitable for some cultures if staff don’t have the autonomy to operate without direct supervision. However, if this is a viable option, you have access to a wider talent pool and lower overhead costs.


Hybrid is the most popular option because it combines almost all of the benefits of both remote and in-office working. It avoids most of the negatives, too. There are many different styles of hybrid, and the approach can be adapted to meet the needs of different teams and staff members. In addition, the popularity of this working model with talented staff gives you an edge in the battle for the best talent.


Hub and spoke is the least mentioned of the 3 options. However, it could be very effective for companies that want to widen their access to talent across the country (and even the world), while keeping staff in the office. However, having offices with small numbers of staff is less effective for collaboration. The high real estate costs can also make it quite intimidating. For these reasons, hub & spoke is only a realistic option for very large organisations.


Implementing Your New Working Model

So much has changed in the way we work over the last two years. Lockdowns have made The biggest change to the way we work since the introduction of the computer. With the great resignation in full swing, the best staff across the country are reassessing their priorities. The companies they choose to work for will be the ones that closest align with their values and provide the best working experience.


In addition to attracting the best staff to your business, implementing the right working model can help you retain your highest performers across the company. By ensuring your staff have the best possible environment, you can maximise their performance. This will have a massive impact on your business in the years ahead.


Still not sure which model is best for you? Our workplace consultancy process can help you understand your office and your people. We collect measurable and cultural insights into your office space and your people. This means you can make the best decisions, helping you to streamline costs whilst increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. We can help you ensure a smarter, optimised workspace with more productive people. Book a call today with one of our workplace consultants.

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