The Future of Work: 4 Models for Remote and Hybrid Work

Over the past several months, we've spoken with hundreds of organizations. While many are increasing remote work, few consider all different remote work options and set up the right communication principles to ensure a smooth transition.

The reality is: remote work is happening, and its trajectory has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders are planning to let employees continue to work remotely after the pandemic is over. It’s up to company leaders like you to successfully transition to the best remote work model for your organization and employees. 

To help you, we’ve put together this guide that explains the 4 types of work models and whether you need to take a “remote-first” approach that prioritizes remote communication and collaboration. We also share practical tips to help you get started.

Remote Working Models

1. Fully Remote / Fully Distributed: Remote-First Necessary

Fully remote companies give employees one option for work location: remote. This model is often the first one people think of when they hear “remote work”: 100% of employees spending 100% of their time working from a location of their choice, usually their own home.

Remote-only corporate models are not new. In fact, companies like InVision, Automattic, and more have embraced remote-only work for years. These companies have benefited from the ability to easily adapt to change and support employees working from their own homes, with minimal disruption even in the middle of a global pandemic.

To spice things up, companies typically find ways to be extremely close virtually through frequent interactions (for example, a virtual office!), and still make sure to meet-up in person a few times per year for company-wide offsites. 

Practical Tips for Fully Remote Offices 

Fully-remote companies need to be intentional about staying connected. For example, remote teams should clearly document all project data, so all team members have access to a single “source of truth” for all project information. This ensures everyone has the right information at all times, and it can help avoid communication breakdowns. Fully-remote teams should also consider using a virtual office platform to enable real-time interactions, create productive coworking groups, and establish a cadence of fun events and happy hours

2. Hybrid-Remote: Remote-First Necessary 

In hybrid-remote organisations, a portion of the workforce is fully remote and another portion works in the office. A remote-first approach enables optimal collaboration and should be the model for any company where some or all of the employees do not work physically together. 

The remote-first model ensures that all corporate processes and communication channels work equally well for both remote and on-premise employees. This gives teams more flexibility to work in the way that works best for them, without frustrating technology limitations. Plus, a remote-first model can provide flexibility like splitting up the work week with a few days remote and a few days in person. These benefits can increase your company’s competitiveness to attract, hire, and retain top talent beyond your geographical location.  

While startups and small-to-medium businesses have operated with hybrid models for years, large corporations face steep challenges and complex transitions. Still, the long-term benefits of implementing a remote-first model far outweigh the challenges. We believe most companies will follow the hybrid model going forward and need to devise a clear strategy to do so.

Practical Tips for Hybrid-Remote Offices 

Hybrid-remote teams face unique challenges having some of their employees in the office and some remote. This makes it especially difficult to ensure all team members feel connected to the team. For example, on-site colleagues often find it easier to engage with their peers in person, while remote employees feel forgotten and out of the loop. 

That’s why being remote-first is so important for hybrid teams. Prioritizing remote communication and collaboration ensures that everyone is included and informed even if they are not physically present. To implement a remote-first approach with hybrid teams, consider setting up virtual coworking spaces so team members can work “together” throughout the day, organically swap ideas, ask questions, or just chat--without excluding anyone.

3. Decentralized: Remote-First Optional

A decentralized organisation is one that has employees distributed across more than one location. Most organisations over 300 employees are decentralized. Depending on the level of collaboration needed across locations, decentralized organisations may need to follow remote working principles to facilitate communication and collaboration across teams. If locations are relatively siloed and independent, a fully-remote model may not be necessary for every company right away. 

Rather, most decentralized companies are currently looking to blend the old with the new, creating flexible workspaces that enable a more dispersed workforce. They’re creating optionality. In a recent example, Amazon, a company notorious for maintaining optionality but rarely supporting remote work, indicated that they may change their tune. Amazon recently offered employees working in the Seattle headquarters more choices of where to work. 

However, decentralized corporations that have not yet transitioned to remote work principles are losing out on the increased collaboration and productivity provided by strong communication. As time goes on and remote work becomes standard across industries, these companies will need to transition to a remote-first approach to continue to attract and retain talent. 

Practical Tips for Decentralized Offices 

In some decentralized organizations, each location operates fairly independent from one another. However, more often than not, there is some level of collaboration among locations. As a results A remote-first approach should be taken whenever colleagues collaborate without a shared physical location.

For example, a decentralized organisation may have a US office and an EMEA office, each with its own marketing team. As they represent one brand, the teams need to work together to convey global messages, but they also work independently to localize marketing campaigns for their specific region. In this example, adopting remote-first principles helps both marketing teams stay aligned and collaborate on overarching strategy and projects while maintaining autonomy over localized activities. 

4. Centralized: Remote-First Optional

Some corporations have the luxury of having one office and do not need to consider remote-first working principles, unless they allow employees to work from home occasionally.

Most corporations realize that now is not the time to take a strong stance against remote work. That doesn’t mean they’re not against it; it just means they’re not announcing their position. As we slowly find our new normal, many corporations will require their employees to return to the office, leaning on the old tropes of “increased collaboration” and “stronger culture.” We expect this to be short-lived.

The longer these companies hold out on building a culture that supports remote work, the more difficult it will be for them to make the transition in the future when they find themselves struggling to compete with remote-friendly employers. 

Practical Tips for Centralized Offices 

We get it. Massive change is hard, but ultimately, every company will need to make the leap to remote work to stay competitive in the future. However, getting started doesn’t mean you have to jump in head first. A gradual transition will be more effective than a sudden change that your organisation is unprepared to make. 

This transition will look different for every company; it’s important to just start somewhere. For example, you could start by ensuring 100% of communications for certain projects are held on Slack and can be accessed asynchronously, or set up a virtual office for people to connect without having to organise meetings and interact across departments. 

For More Information About Remote Work 

Gone is the traditional in-office job. Remote work is in full swing, so it’s important to choose a remote work model that works for your business.This means implementing both the right strategies and technologies to maintain effective communication and collaboration--and keep your employees engaged. 

Kosy is here to help. Our virtual office platform helps remote workforces build more connected, social, and productive teams. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today to see how a virtual office can bring your remote work strategy to life. 

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