Remote Vs Onsite Vs Hybrid working - What should you prefer and why?

Updated: 23 days ago
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Due to the pandemic and its seemingly everlasting effect, one of the most trending HR policy of companies is the job location from where it’s employees will function.

Pre-pandemic period, other than technology companies and consultancy firms who had majority of the employees working on a flexible work week with an independence to work either from home or office, others were not really open to the idea of their workers operating remotely.

This situation drastically changed as Covid panic spread and safety of workers became the main concern. Companies who’d never considered the concept were suddenly forced to fully migrate to a virtual workspace.

Slowly, the job scene started transforming as opportunities surged with people finding options to work from their homes located in 2 and 3-tier cities.

On-site Vs remote working

Excluding jobs and industries that mandate physical presence at the workplace such as healthcare, retail, banks etc. here are the pros & cons of working from office Vs working from home:

Work from home 

Pros

- Increased employee productivity

- The freedom to work anytime, anywhere

- Zero commute time

- Spending more time with family

- Fewer distractions from colleagues

Cons

- Commute time can be lengthy, stressful & costly

- Increased organisational expenses including real estate, equipment and energy costs

- Increased distraction from colleagues

- An environment which may not be preferable to the entire workforce

Work from office

Pros

- Fewer distractions from family members

- More interaction/communication with colleagues

- A more cohesive organisational culture, which can lead to solidarity and a sense of purpose

- Access to the organisation’s equipment and facilities

- A structured routine, which may improve employee productivity and discipline by creating a common experience for all employees

Cons

Social isolation can be detrimental to employees’ emotional and mental health

- Difficult to unplug hence employees find themselves overworked or even burnt out

- Collaboration can be a challenge with colleagues working in different time zones or not familiar with remote working

After identifying the benefits and drawbacks of both work systems, it’s pertinent for organisations to strike the right balance between the employees’ needs and the business challenges. Hence, managers looking to modernise their work environment regarded hybrid working as the universal solution to align with the new normal.

It was also seen a strategy to attract more and more talent, at much lower costs, while offering workers the freedom of choice in flexi-timings, remote work days and work hours.

This meant a fluid ecosystem in which a portion of the workforce will operate on-site, another will be completely remote and still others will be partially remote and partially on-site.

The exact work structure will differ across organisations, requiring a strategy that’s unique to the kind of jobs and business realities existing at that point, a combination of remote and on-site work model, hence the term, hybrid.

Hybrid working

A hybrid workplace has similar advantages and disadvantages from the earlier categories, as follows:

Pros

- Employees enjoy the freedom of working from remote locations

- When commuting to the office, they also have the opportunity to interact with their colleagues onsite

- Employers can save money if they choose to reduce their real estate, equipment or other overhead costs

Cons

- In hybrid teams, there’s often a division between remote and on-site workers in terms of culture, workflows, and social bonds

- Collaboration between these two teams can be difficult, as each side establishes different workflows and processes

- Managers who work predominantly offsite or onsite may favours individuals/teams that they interact with regularly

Primarily, organisations will need to expand their technology landscape to support the needs of a partial or fully remote work setting that enables digital work processes, collaboration and communication through secure channels. 

What should you prefer and why?

Having understood the three structures, and its pros and cons, if one has an option and has to select between the three - what should you prefer and why?

Leaving out the organisational factors, this decision for an individual depends on these two factors:

1. Your work experience and position

If you’re just starting out in your career, understanding your job/role and the company is crucial for your success and future growth. To be involved with a task and engage yourself in the work is far easier when you are physically present in the workspace.

An important aspect of your job, is building and nurturing relationships at the workplace. For a fresher or someone with little experience in the field, networking amongst team members, finding senior persons who are able to guide, mentor, provide direction, helps in honing of skills, improving performance and carving a path for yourself in the organisation.

If you stay focussed in meeting your goals and manage time well, the drawback of getting distracted by colleagues in an onsite situation can be easily converted into a strength. Strong human connections develop only through physical presence not in a virtual environment.

However, if you’re in the mid-experience range, the hybrid format is more appropriate. Whereas, senior management professionals usually prefer the hybrid or fully onsite option since it’s easier to supervise team members and be on the top of things.

2. Your personality

If you’re inherently an outgoing person, the answer is easy - onsite working is made for you! The opportunity to make new friends, hang out after work hours and in general working in a team are perks to be enjoyed in an onsite atmosphere.

However, if you are someone who prefers solitary functioning and regard interaction with colleagues/ team to be a mere formality and at other times an interruption, go ahead and opt for remote working. You’ll realise, by working independently, your efficiency and the satisfaction of completing the job without hindrances goes up considerably. 

Further, if you’re somewhere-in-the-middle personality, then hybrid working is your answer!

Bottomline

Numerous issues need to be considered before arriving at this crucial career choice, your safety and wellbeing taking precedence.

If your job requires you to be present in the office, for a specific amount of time, there’s no way you can evade it. It’s a reality that managers tend to view those they work with closely in the workplace as more committed and sincere compared to the ones working remotely. Imagine a crisis situation, immediate solution/s can be worked out with a quick huddle in the office than planning and arranging an online meeting.

Hence, do in-depth analysis of your job type, requirements, your own personal needs/expectations.

Finally, reach a joint decision with your manager regarding your preferred work style for optimum productivity and maximum satisfaction!

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