Remote, Hybrid, and In-Office: There are Important Choices to Be Made

I just finished presenting at the world’s largest HR conference, SHRM. There were 22,000 attendees from around the globe and it was nothing short of electrifying. As you can imagine from the myriad of topics HR professionals tackle every day, the concept of remote, hybrid and in-office work were discussed. And, my presentation was designed to, in part, address this conundrum along with much more information targeted to this passionate group of professionals.

Individuals have a mindset of how the workday looks to them, as do the companies that employ them.

Here is some of what I shared.

1. Remote, hybrid and in-office work are here to stay.

The pandemic changed everything and as we settle back into work, companies have made decisions that will not always be popular with employees. Consider this.

According to Axios, a full 40% of staff are now being told that remote work is over and are asked to report to work five days per week. While this is a large number, it was higher before the pandemic as most of us had little to no remote options offered to us by our employer.

Oftentimes, companies will say that the benefit of in-office work is to:

A) Better keep track of staff

B) Grow collaboration

C) Communication is easier

D) Getting to know what’s happening quicker

E) Human interaction

F) Workers are more likely to engage during regular meetings and brainstorms

G) Some managers like the control of having many of their reports in one place

It is true that if you’re the kind of person that likes to be on top of all the news, it’s always best to be in the center of the action. You hear more, learn more and can react quicker at times. But does this actually help you work smarter, better and more efficiently? Opinions differ.

2. Structured-Hybrid Environments

Axios reports 30% of staff are working in a Structured-Hybrid environment. Yes, this option is becoming more popular and the reason why is becoming clearer every year. A combination of on-site and remote days can be an employee favorite and bridges the need to keep options somewhat open for employees. This is a huge advantage for companies as it helps retain staff that might otherwise be looking for work if their office is 100% in office. And you get a taste of both worlds, while remaining semi-autonomous.

3. Fully Remote

Then there are the remote/flexible options which Axios states currently are Fully remote staff is 7% & the employee choice option is 21%. While the total numbers don’t equal 100%, they fall in at 98% which leaves a 2% difference for companies who don’t feel like any of these options describe their work situation.

However, there is a clear indication that workplaces are continuing to insist that staff come back to the office full time.

What does this information tell us?

Another option are co-working spaces where you share an office or space with other organizations, as there were close to 19,000 in 2018, according to research from Travis Howell, an assistant professor of strategy at the University of California, Irvine’s business school. This is another innovative way to structure a work environment.

Patricia Grabarek, president and co-founder of Workr Beeing, adds, “While remote work is proven to be effective, having connections at work is important, which helps organizations build healthy work environments.”

Google, a unit of tech giant Alphabet, already asked employees to come into the office three days per week back in April of 2023. Many ignored the request, according to the Washington Post. And Facebook’s parent company Meta ordered workers already assigned to an office to return for three days per week.

These are signs of what is to come as these huge companies lead the way, but the voice of workers is strong, and they are the true working capital of any company.

While my presentation at SHRM was in depth and focused on several areas of employee retention, attracting new talents and navigating change, I learned an important lesson from my HR friends as they walk a tightrope between doing what is best for the company and what is best for staff.

Bottom Line Takeaway

Unprecedented times require agile thinking, listening well to all parties and coming up with solutions that all company staff from CEO to brand new recruits can live with. Doing this will assist in moving business forward, keeping valuable human capital and attracting great candidates.