While the world is recovering from the COVID hassle, many companies are left wondering which work model is the best after all. Office-based work is still considered the traditional way, remote work has been getting all the praise, and hybrid work emerged to combine the two. While all three prove to be good in their way, it is still a question of debate to find the best of the bests. Which one should you adopt to appeal to your employees and get the most out of their work?
This article will help you find the answer.
Let’s get into it.
p.s. Michael genuinely means it
The good old office-based work model. In the days before the internet and technological advances, everyone used to go to the office, work with a pen, paper and landline phones.
Later with the arrival of computers, office work is still there, with some changes obviously.
Advantages of Office Work
Regular interaction with coworkers
Being in the office requires communicating with coworkers, be it willingly or not. Whether it is discussing projects or just informal chatting, communication is always necessary. When you work from the office, you get to meet coworkers in the corridor, in the kitchen, everywhere.
When it comes to work, it is much easier to discuss projects when everyone is near. You gather, go to the conference room and discuss whatever it is that needs to be discussed. Then you go back to your desk and continue your work. If there is another question to discuss, you or your coworkers go to each other’s desks and have a chat. Easy.
Going to work at the required time and finishing it likewise are great ways to acquire discipline. The reason is that you have to conform to the fixed hours. You also gain a sense of responsibility. Even if there’s no one checking to see when you clocked in, your inner responsible side does.
If you are struggling to wake up early in the morning, over time your body gets used to the routine and wakes up naturally, even before the alarm clock. Of course, this is more likely to happen with the right conditions, that is going to sleep early.
Participation in company culture and life
Being in the office means being part of the company culture. Whether you want it or not, in order to get to know the company better you have to participate in the company culture. In fact, it is much more fun than what we are used to hearing.
By spending time with the company you see the real values, goals, attitudes, and practices of the staff. No matter how positive and conscientious the company claims to be, you really get to see it only when you are involved in it directly. That is why this is another big advantage of the office-based work model.
Feeling under pressure
Work in the office can sometimes put pressure on employees. They may feel under constant surveillance even if it is not the case. The thought that a manager or the boss may be watching or appear at any minute may be pressuring on a subconscious level.
Some employees live so far that their commute takes several hours every day. It not only takes up time but energy as well, especially in the morning. Those who live the furthest know it best. Some drive to work, while others take the train or a bus, but the issue of time and energy still remains.
Less movement and more sitting
In the office, there is a lower chance of getting up and moving around. Especially if your work is bound to the computer. The only movement you can do is walk and depending on your office amenities, you only walk either to the bathroom or the kitchen. Of course, if you are able to not care about surrounding coworkers, you can stand up any time and do a workout right in the office, but not everyone will do it.
While remote work was used as an alternative during the pandemic, it is now considered the antidote to office work. Yet, it has both advantages and disadvantages.
Artwork by the amazing Gemma Correll
(You need to check out her other works too, seriously:)
When remote, employees have more freedom and autonomy. If they work from home, they feel at home and do not have to worry about their surroundings. They do not have to worry about what to wear, how to sit and where to sit, etc.
The same goes for the way they work. Despite being online and available during working hours, when there are no managers or a boss around physically, they may feel more free and confident. And do not worry, this fact doesn’t harm their performance in any way. On the contrary, some employees start to outperform in these conditions.
Saved time, energy, and money
Remote employees get to save more time, energy, and finances as a result of not going to the office. First things first, they do not have to commute. The latter is the thief of a large amount of time and energy for some employees, both in the morning and in the evening. Not only that but money and resources as well. Imagine how much they save by not driving or taking the bus every single day.
Working wherever is most comfortable for them, they are able to manage more things by switching between activities faster.
As a result of having more energy and time, employees perform much better.
What’s better than working from the comfort of your home or any other place you feel most comfortable at? Work and lie on the couch, sit on the floor, on the balcony or elsewhere. Those who have pets get to spend more time with them. And we know how happy pets make us. We also know that happy employees will be productive employees.
Not being physically present in the office and next to coworkers may lead to feelings of FOMO, i.e. fear of missing out. During the remote work model, employees stay in touch only through the computer and for work-related topics mostly. As a result, they start to feel left out of company life and feel like they are even excluded from it.
Even when all of them are remote and there isn’t much company life going on, most of them may still feel like this. This issue is more prominent in hybrid work, which we will look at in more detail below.
Isolation and declining mental health
The feeling of isolation stems from the previous factor. As there is less human connection and interaction, to the point of spending a whole day in a room, the only communication is a chat with coworkers every now and then.
The lack of human interaction starts to deteriorate mental health and if not addressed, can result in depression and anxiety. Of course, this is not universal as there are people who indeed enjoy minimum communication and will perform much better in these conditions. But the opposite seems to be more common.
Not having the fixed and strict hours of office work leads to employees working much more than they should. If they work from home, they can have lunch while also working or just because the kitchen is so close. Similarly, at the end of the working hours, they may go with the flow and continue working until much later, just because they still have work to do.
Autonomy and flexibility
What make the hybrid work model so known and desired among employees are autonomy and flexibility.
Most employees work either in the office or remotely. What hybrid work does is give them the opportunity to experience both to the full spectrum. That is to say, employees are free to decide where they want to work: in the office, from home, in the mountains (well, as long as there’s a connection). The possibilities are endless. The fact that they can choose where to work, gives them autonomy and flexibility over their work.
Improved mental health
Being in control of your working day gives you ease of mind. This results in improved mental health over the course of time. When you do not have to worry about being chained to the strict rules of the office, you feel much better mentally. Plus if an employee feels that their mental health is suffering because of any office drama, they are free to work from home. In the same way, when they feel isolated at home, they are free to come back to the office.
Hybrid work implies half of the team working in the office and half remotely. In such teams and companies, the chance of uncoordinated communication is much higher. Those in the office may discuss and decide something, while those remote may not be updated on it or be updated later.
After all, people are more likely to meet up and discuss things when in the same office, than when they stay in touch virtually.
As promised in the section on remote work, FOMO can be a major issue in the hybrid work model as well. In this case, it is a real fear, as while some employees work from home, there is company life going on in the office. This issue refers especially to those employees who prefer hybrid only because of financial and personal reasons but would like to be in the office otherwise.
Those employees that work remotely are less likely to be promoted, appreciated, and get bonuses. For the simple reason of not being seen or physically present, their chances get reduced. While those that go to the office are perceived as more involved in the company. Of course, this does not apply to any employee or company, but represents the general picture and is a possibility.
After having looked at the pros and cons of these 3 models of work, it is clear that no type is an absolute have-it-all. Even though hybrid work seems to be the happy medium, it is still essential to listen to your team’s and company’s needs and wants. You can conduct a survey among them to see what they think. Then choose the type based on their preferences. Only after experiencing one of these models in your company, will you understand if it’s beneficial, or not.
Let this article be a guide on your way to finding the work model that works best for you.