Workplace Technology Assessment
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From dress suits and cubicles to leisure wear and home offices, the business world looks different today than it did two years ago. What began as a mission for health safety snowballed into a corporate movement. It’s important we take the time to assess the pros and cons of the three types of work: the traditional in-office model, remote work model, and hybrid work model.
Companies and their employees need to understand the benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with the different types of work as they decide which is best for them.
Benefits of working in the office
Before the coronavirus pandemic, most companies operated with an in-office work model. However, what was once the norm has quickly become a controversial subject. Regardless, in some areas, the in-office model remains successful.
Workers can more easily benefit from the organization’s culture, a factor that remains significant to job seekers and employees. 76% of the workforce feel culture plays a role in their professional success, as it directly impacts their well-being. Supportive and collaborative environments are better built when everyone is in the same proximity.
Despite the resounding voices of support, not all employees are pleased that companies switched to the remote work model. Some discovered it challenging to find work-life balance. Those without the convenience of a home office adapted by working from their couch or kitchen counter. When commuting to an office, there is an absolute separation between employees’ professional and personal lives. But without a defined ‘place of work,’ employees have no clear boundaries.
Arguments against returning to the office
While having a designated workspace and set hours are valuable, they have drawbacks. Set 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. working hours make it difficult for employees to set up personal appointments, as those require pre-approval and requested time off. Mothers who receive troublesome calls – mid-workday – regarding their children are also at a disadvantage. These are not the only inconveniences:
- Money and time spent on commuting (Gas prices are at an all-time high)
- Lack of privacy when completing individual time-sensitive projects
- Recurring distractions that interfere with employees’ overall job success
Companies that disregard these concerns may land themselves in hot water. In June 2022, CEO Elon Musk emailed Tesla employees, stating they must return to the office or resign. Employees quickly responded with pushback, expressing that the mandate negatively reflects the company’s business.
After a taste of flexibility, most workers prefer a remote or hybrid work model. Companies not offering either will have access to a smaller talent pool.
Pros of the remote work model
Working remotely was a relatively new experience for employees. Only 30% of the workforce were remote pre-pandemic, compared to 81% of employees during its’ height. Post-pandemic, companies struggle to determine the best work model for the long-term. To maintain employee flexibility, do organizations keep the remote work model or adopt a hybrid work model?
Remote work eliminates employees from commuting, as well as unexpected tardiness. Factors such as oversleeping, traffic, or time spent getting coffee will no longer be a concern. Instead, employees can put this time towards work productivity and mental well-being. Organizations can offer their workforce:
- Financial savings from less gas and on-the-go purchases
- Less exposure to illnesses such as coronavirus
- Ability to create a personalized working space
Additionally, remote work offers flexible hours, which can improve productivity. Employees can work at the time of day they individually perform the best. While 43% of adults describe themselves as morning people, one in three adults says they work better in the evening. Traditional hours may not be what is best for everyone.
Virtual hiring and employee burnout with remote work
Among “The Great Resignation,” 40% of employees searched for a new job. During a time companies were predominately remote-first, many had to rethink how to hire, onboard, and train new employees. 82% of employers post-pandemic use virtual interviews. However, job seekers have expressed concerns with this process:
- 33% of job seekers feel they cannot convey their personalities in a virtual interview
- More than 90% of employees encounter tech issues during virtual onboarding
- New employees lack access to their hiring manager and helpful resources during online training
Like new hires’, active employees also struggle to get the information needed when learning new tasks. A Microsoft study showed that shifting to remote work hurt collaboration and communication within companies. Employees are less likely to interact virtually than in person. Pinging a co-worker appears more intrusive than walking up to their cubicle. As a result, relationship-building feels forced versus organic.
Benefits of the hybrid work model
For employees, the biggest benefit of the hybrid work model is flexibility. Whether they work in-house, from home, or split their time between the two, a hybrid workplace supports them. It’s meant to bridge all gaps between different types of work, allowing a person to accomplish their job regardless of the setting.
This seamless working experience goes all the way down to the workspace level. The hybrid work model demands workspaces to be as flexible as the concept. Hotel desks, hot desks, breakout spaces, and the like are all essential in a supportive hybrid workplace. Beyond keeping the concept functional, they further promote employees to work in the fashion that best fits their needs.
From an employer standpoint, hybrid work offers powerful optimization opportunities. For example, ratio desking allows companies to operate with fewer desks than total employees without depriving people of the space they need. In addition, portfolio consolidation can free up significant cash flow otherwise tied up in overhead.
Negatives to beware of in hybrid workspaces
There are still a few kinks in the hybrid work model that companies need to work through. While it’s a proven, reliable solution to distributed teams and workforces, some drawbacks add up to some clear-cut pitfalls:
- More difficult to communicate in real-time, especially between distributed teams
- Access to technology and applications may differ from office to home
- Employees may find it difficult to adapt or develop new habits
- Employees may feel alienated if not supported in their choice of work style
- Hybrid requires more processes of control to allow for freedoms in works
Similar to the remote work model, a disadvantage of the hybrid work model is the lack of oversight. Companies give up a traditional sense of control over their employees. Managers must proactively help employees develop good habits and understand expectations. As discussed, social-emotional competency is vital for management, and good systems for communication are imperative.
The hybrid work model offers the best of both worlds
Simply put: because the benefits of the hybrid work model outweigh the potential negatives, the hybrid work model is a long-term prospect for today’s dynamic workforce:
- Offers the best of both on-site and off-site accessibility for employees
- Improves flexibility, agility, and optionality of the workplace
- More effective use and utilization of spaces and workstations
- Saved workplace and facility costs through more efficient use of space
- Improved employee experience, which can influence and strengthen culture
- Access to a broader talent pool when hiring or expanding
Companies might’ve adopted a hybrid work model out of necessity due to the pandemic, but it’s going to far outlast it as the new way to accommodate different types of work styles and everyone’s unique preferences. The hybrid model gives employees and employers the best of both worlds.
Make sure you choose a hybrid workplace model that puts your people first, then find the technology solutions to support it. iOFFICE + SpaceIQ gives companies the tools to connect their people, places, data, and assets.