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Hybrid vs Remote vs Office – Which is Best for Productivity?

Updated: Apr 24

Productivity at Work

In recent years, rapid changes in working styles have caused a lot of confusion and even conflict. Looking to the long term, many company leaders want their staff back in the office. However, employees are reluctant to relinquish the convenience and cost-savings of working from home.


One of the key issues at the heart of this issue is productivity. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of conflicting research and opinions on which working model is best. If you’re trying to decide your working model, one of your most important considerations will be productivity. But which working model is best for productivity?


That’s what we’ll go through in this article. We’ll explain what the differences in productivity are for each working model, and explore the reasons behind that. By the end, you’ll be better informed and able to choose the best working model for your company.


To learn all about how each working model compares beyond productivity, download your copy of Office v Remote v Hybrid Working - Which is Best for Me? There, we’ll break down each working model by 7 key criteria (including productivity, culture, and talent development), and how to choose the best working model for you.


Why is Productivity Controversial?

For the last 3 years, working in the office all day every day has no longer been the default. There has been a lot of debate and controversy around what the best working model is. At the centre of this debate has been staff productivity.


Staff productivity is crucial because it affects the efficiency, profitability and competitiveness of the overall company. However, managing staff productivity is very difficult. For frontline workers in customer service or technical roles, it is relatively easy. For those in more strategic or autonomous roles, measuring their performance is very difficult. This is one of the key reasons why the working model question has been so debated.


Remote Working

Recent research from the MIT and UCLA found that remote workers were 18% less productive than their in-office colleagues. 2020 research found remote workers worked longer and were less distracted than when they worked in the office. Unsurprisingly, they reported feeling a lot more productive. However, one analysis found staff were 4% less productive, despite feeling 8% more productive.


Communication and team bonds play a crucial role in individual productivity. In 2020, when teams had spent many years working together in person, this wasn't much of a problem. As teams have changed over time, however, building team bonds has proven to be very difficult. This has been a serious drag on staff performance. Moreover, this will continue to worsen over time.


Office Working

Fully-in-office working is much less common than it was. In fact, it is no longer the default working model. However, many companies are requesting staff come back to the office. Productivity is one of the prime reasons.


A study by the Universities of Chicago and Essex found that workers at an IT company were 19% less productive working remotely than when they worked in the office pre-pandemic. Having everyone in the office makes it much easier for staff to communicate and solve problems that limit their performance.


Another key productivity impact of having staff in your office all the time is that it is much easier to understand the general atmosphere and culture. This makes it much easier to improve, which will have a knock-on effect on engagement and productivity.


Hybrid Working

It is difficult to determine the productivity of hybrid working, because hybrid working can mean so many things. The most common is the 3-2 model (staff working 2 days from home, 3 days from the office).


Multiple studies have shown that there is a negligible productivity difference between hybrid and in-office working. This is because staff can spend their time in the office collaborating and networking and then spend their remote working time on deep-focussed work. However, hybrid working has significant benefits in terms of staff development, wellbeing, and engagement, so it may have an uplift on overall performance.


Choosing Your Working Model

Your working model is absolutely crucial to the performance of your people and your company. It will have a major impact on how your people communicate, develop, and perform.


So which is best for you? Only you can decide. However, remote working is rarely the best option. Even if you factor in the cost savings of remote working, lower productivity and poor staff development mean remote working could be very damaging in the long term.


Office working is significantly better, due to the improved communication and staff development opportunities. However, it’s not always particularly popular with staff. For this reason, Hybrid working is the best option for most companies. It is similar to office working in terms of productivity, and has significant other benefits such as staff engagement and talent attraction & retention.


The next step is to choose your working model. However, productivity isn't the only consideration. To learn more, read Office vs Hybrid vs Remote – Top 3 Working Models 2023. 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.


To learn all about how each working model compares beyond productivity, download your copy of Office v Remote v Hybrid Working - Which is Best for Me? There, we’ll break down each working model by 7 key criteria (including productivity, culture, and talent development), and how to choose the best working model for you.

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