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Office vs Hybrid vs Remote – Top 3 Working Models 2023

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

The Changing World Of Work

Are you struggling to decide on the best long-term working model for your company? Do you have a lot of conflicting views within your company about what the best way forward is? If so, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what the main 3 working models are, along with their respective advantages and disadvantages. We’ll then explain how you can decide which is the best option for you.


This is a challenge many companies are facing at the moment. As novelty of remote working wears off and the economic climate gets even more challenging, many managers are keen for staff to return to the office. This view is not shared by the staff, who are reluctant to give up the flexibility and convenience of remote working.


Every week, we speak to companies about their workspace. Their working model is a common concern. Over the last 3 years, we’ve helped many companies develop their workspace strategies and adapt their workspaces to match. Although we are a fit out company, this article is not to promote in-office working. It’s to help you decide what the best working model option is for your company.


In Office

In-office working is the traditional working model whereby all staff work in the office all day, every day. This has been the dominant working model from the industrial revolution until the 2010’s. However, the unexpected success of remote and hybrid working means that in-office working is no longer the default for every company.


Advantages of In-Office Working

The major advantage of in-office working is that is it much better for communication. Being in close physical proximity to their colleagues makes it far easier to communicate effectively and efficiently. In-person collaboration is also more effective, with research showing that in-person meetings generate 25% more ideas than remote meetings.


Having all your staff in your own office is also much better for culture. Not only can they build shared team commitment, but you can create a workspace tailored to your culture that encourages this. Recent research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has also shown that productivity declines by 19% when working remotely.


Disadvantages of In-Office Working

However, there are several key disadvantages to operating an in-office working model. This would likely be unpopular with your current staff, with 1 in 3 office workers saying they would leave if forced back to the office. It would also limit your available talent pool to within a relatively small daily commuting distance. Fully in-office working also incurs the highest real estate costs of any of these three working models, as you require more office space when all your people are in the office all the time.


Hybrid

Hybrid working means different things to different people, and there are a lot of different versions of hybrid working. The most popular version is known as “3-2”. Staff work 3 days in the office and 2 days from home. All versions incorporate some time in the office with some time working off-site. This off-site time could be spent at home, in a co-working space, or even in a holiday location.


Advantages of Hybrid Working

The main advantage of hybrid working is that it strikes a balance for a lot of different factors. As a result, it is an acceptable compromise for both staff and managers. Hybrid working is very popular with office workers, especially high-performing staff, so it would make hiring and keeping top talent easier. The less frequent commuting also allows access to a wider talent pool.


The flexibility of hybrid working is also appreciated by staff, which leads to improves wellbeing and engagement – both of which have a positive knock-on effect on their overall performance.


Disadvantages of Hybrid Working

Hybrid working's greatest benefit – its balance – is also its greatest drawback. It's an undeniable compromise, and one that often leaves everyone unsatisfied. Because of its flexibility and complexity, it can also be very complicated to manage. The real estate savings are also often small, despite incurring extra technology costs to allow staff to work remotely as well.


Remote

Remote working means all your staff working from off-site 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. It was an unexpected success (at least in the short term), which has since created a lot of controversy about the best working model.


Advantages of Remote Working

The key benefit of remote working for companies is that it eliminates real estate costs. As real estate is the second highest overhead for most companies (behind staff), this is a major cost reduction. It can save professional services companies up to 20% of their total annual costs.


It is also popular with a lot of staff, which means you will likely find it easier to attract and retain talent. Remote working also gives you access to an almost infinite talent pool, with the ability to hire from any country around the world.


Disadvantages of Remote Working

However, there are some major disadvantages of remote working. While there may not be an obvious decline in culture, it will fade over time as relationships break down and new remote staff struggle to build strong relationships with existing staff. The dispersed nature of remote working also makes it much more difficult to communicate and work in teams.


While many initial studies showed productivity improvements from remote working, most of these were self-reported and misrepresented by biased media. As earlier mentioned more detailed studies have since shown that working from home is generally less productive.


How to Choose Your Working Model

So how do you choose your working model? The place to start is by considering deal-breaker factors. If your people need specialist equipment such as trading desks, then it may not be possible to implement a hybrid or remote model. If your staff have moved all over the world in the last 2 years, getting them back to the office may not be practical.


You can also run small-scale pilot schemes to see how well each of these models work for your business. Giving some of your staff the option to work remotely for 3 months and then assessing the results will give you a good idea of what might happen if you implemented the option permanently. Throughout the process, it’s important to keep an open mind and remain focussed on what is best for your company overall in the long term – which obviously includes the satisfaction and engagement of your staff.


Implementing Your New Working Model

The office v remote v hybrid debate has become very controversial over the last 3 years. There is a lot of biased coverage and data, as well as loud opinions. To make the best decision for your company, you need to avoid all this noise and focus on what is best for you and your people.


Deciding on your working model is a massive decision. It will have a major impact on the productivity of your people, your real estate costs, and your overall company performance in the years to come. It’s essential that you make the right decision. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for your company to be successful.


Now that you know about the 3 key working models and their respective advantage and disadvantages, you are in a much better position to avoid the noise and make the best decision for your company. If you would like input from an expert, reach out here. One of our workspace consultants will be happy to help you make your choice.


To learn more about the working models and which is best for you, download your working model guide. We’ll assess each working model according to seven key criteria, explain common situations for each working model, and help you choose the best option for you. Download your office v hybrid v remote working model guide here. If you’re looking to attract your people back to the office, you’ll want to read this article. It breaks down the 5 key steps to successfully get your people back to your office.

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