It’s a debate that’s disrupting businesses all over the world. Organizations are choosing sides, duking it out over which is the best way for employees to work. So which camp do you fall into? Are you Team Remote? Team Office? Or Team Hybrid? Let’s get into the strengths and weaknesses of each side so you can make an informed decision.
Team Remote Work
No longer the privilege of digital nomads and freelancers, remote work has become mainstream. If you prefer to work from home, the road or a working vacation, this is your team.
Pros of Remote Work
Many remote workers will tell you they’re more productive at home than they are in the office. You’re less likely to be bombarded by chatty colleagues or the details of someone else’s phone call when you’re working remotely. Plus, you don’t have to worry about asking for time off to go to the doctor or be home for deliveries.
Health and Wellness
Many are finding that remote work leads to healthier lifestyles. When you’re at the office, you feel pressured to remain at your desk to seem productive. Combine that with the time sitting in the car, and you can see how inactive office life can be. But if you’re working remote, you can take your dog for a walk; make yourself breakfast instead of hitting the McDonald’s drive thru; redirect commute time to meditation instead of cursing rush hour traffic.
I don’t know about you, but I used to spend an enormous amount of money on gas, lunch and coffee when I went into the office. Working from home cuts down on your weekly expenses so you can add to that savings account.
Sweatpants have become my uniform of choice while working from home. I no longer spend hours trying to put outfits together or blow drying my hair. Makeup is saved for rare occasions. It’s a more comfortable way to get through the workday.
Cons of Remote Work
This is the most obvious drawback to remote work. If your only interactions are during work-focused meetings (and you’re not making an effort to initiate casual conversation), isolation is a serious threat. It can be harder to stay motivated and productive when you’re lonely.
You may not be spending as much money on food and gas, but what about the upfront investment in your home office set up? Chairs, desks and monitors aren’t cheap! Plus, have you considered the impact on your electricity bill on a monthly basis? All of a sudden, you’re using a lot more energy than you used to. (If you do choose this option, just know that most of these expenses can be claimed on taxes to offset some of the costs.)
The distinction between personal and professional can get a little fuzzy when you’re living and working in the same location. It’s harder to get into the right mindset without a physical separation. Plus, it can become harder to relax at home with your work laptop inches away from you at all times.
We all know how easy it is for things to get lost in translation through texts and emails. Subtle differences in syntax or emoji usage can make a big difference, and the opportunities for miscommunication become even greater when communicating across generational divides. Not being able to read body language leaves a lot to interpretation.
Team Office Work
A robust and dominant crowd, these rugged traditionalists love face-to-face communication. Team Office has controlled this debate for years. If you’d rather have employees working from the office from 9-5, this is your team.
Pros of Office Work
This is the default argument for proponents of onsite working arrangements. When people are together, it’s easier to interact, build relationships and develop emotional ties to coworkers. There’s something to be said for those casual conversations around the watercooler and getting lunch with your team.
Disciplined Time Management
Your commute to the office helps you mentally prepare for the work ahead. You don’t spend time lounging on the couch in your pjs with a fresh cup of coffee when you need to be at the office at 8. Once you’re there, you have a set eight hours to get work done before leaving for the day. But when you’re home, you’re more likely to procrastinate and extend your working hours.
Ease of Communication
Many people find communication to be more efficient in an office setting than online. Whether you’re chatting or emailing, intentions are often misinterpreted over virtual channels. It’s much more efficient to get someone’s attention (and keep it) when you’re in the same room.
You don’t need to fix what’s not broken, as they say. Working from the office was the norm for decades and no one thought it was “old school” before the pandemic. And if everyone continues to work from the office, there aren’t new technology requirements and cultural concerns to worry about. Remote work and hybrid teams take a lot more effort to get right.
Cons of Office Work
The traffic, the expense, the time wasted… I don’t have to tell you that commuting is often a pain. Plus, the more time you spend in a car, the more likely you are to get in an accident. And I can’t be the only one who ended up trapped on the side of the road for hours on my way to work after blowing a tire.
Cold and Flu Season
We may be particularly sensitive to germs these days, but cold and flu season at the office has been around forever. Sneezes and coughs punctuate the office every time the weather changes, and you know everyone gets sick when kids start going back to school. Cringe.
Cash and Calories
When you’re going into the office everyday and have less time to prep, meals can be challenging. You’re more likely to stop at a drive thru, grab lunch with a colleague or hit up happy hour with your team after hours. Eating out is never as healthy — or cheap — as eating at home.
Lunch deliveries, ringing phones, chatty colleagues… The distractions at the office are endless. When you need to focus, working in an office environment can be much more challenging than working in the peace and quiet of your own home. It’s harder to be productive in the office when doing solo work.
Team Hybrid Work
Once reserved for special cases, hybrid work has become quite common. A compromise between in-office and remote work, Team Hybrid has gained a lot of post-pandemic followers.
Pros of Hybrid Work
Now that we’ve proven that we can work from home effectively, many employees are demanding ongoing flexibility. Organizations that don’t concede can expect their workforce to dwindle. Hybrid work provides the best of both worlds: the social and collaborative aspects of the office with the focus and privacy of home.
For professionals who are immunocompromised or taking care of family members, being in the office for eight hours five days a week may not be feasible. A hybrid approach can level the playing field, giving opportunity to more people. Plus, organizations can benefit from a wider range of talent from different locations. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Cost savings is another win-win for both employers and employees. Individuals can cut back on gas, food and other expenses involved with coming into the office every day. And organizations can spend less on equipment, bandwidth and real estate if the office isn’t at full capacity.
With a hybrid workforce, it’s likely that your employees will be more adaptable when issues come up. Need people to come into the office for a last-minute client event? Massive power outage at the office but can’t afford for productivity to stop? Your employees will be comfortable adapting as needed.
Cons of Hybrid Work
Proximity bias is a thing. If your colleague is spending more time in the office than you, they’re more visible to your superiors — and top of mind when potential opportunities arise. Remote employees have to be conscious of their visibility in a way that onsite employees don’t in order to continue up the ladder.
From a technological perspective, supporting a hybrid approach can be complicated. Not only do you need to have the network, equipment and staff to maintain onsite technology, you also need the security, software and equipment to support people when they’re working remotely.
If your team doesn’t meet in the office on the same days, it can be easy to feel disconnected from your colleagues. You can agree upon “office days” where you meet face-to-face, but that’s not always possible (especially if you have fully remote employees on your team). You have to try harder to keep people connected, regardless of their physical location.
Because some people will be more likely to be in the office than others, cliques can form between onsite employees. It’s easier to bond with coworkers that are right in front of you than it is to include someone who lives in a different state. This can hurt corporate culture and create unnecessary information silos.
Which Team Are You On?
As with everything, there are pros and cons to each work approach. But whether you’re Team Remote, Team Office or Team Hybrid, you still need the communications solutions to make your organization as effective as possible.
At TelNet Worldwide, we specialize in communication technology. We make it possible to work from anywhere, on any device. So whether you’re happy at home, content in your cubicle, or optimistic about having the option to do both, we’ve got you covered.