The Great Remote Versus Hybrid Debate
In the employment world, nothing stirs up passions more these days than the Remote vs Hybrid workplace debate. Ardent supporters of remote (usually employees) claim that the remote workplace is better for productivity and work life balance, while hybrid advocates (usually management) say culture and collaboration are suffering and want their employees back in the office, at least some of the time.
Both sides have good arguments.
There are clear benefits to working remotely, including more scheduling flexibility, the ability to focus without distractions, and the opportunity to work for high-profile companies while living in lower-cost areas.
Employers understand that work flexibility drives worker retention — but many would still like to see their employees’ faces in the office, particularly for Millennials and Gen Z, who could benefit from in-person work interaction and instruction to advance their careers.
But as home life returns to something that looks more normal, nothing has really been settled. Both workers and managers are struggling to define the new normal.
To get an idea of where people stand today, we talked to a few recruiters, account managers, and staffing leaders to see what they think. Here are their comments.
“Sure, a recession may be coming, but the labor shortage is here to stay so hiring will likely not be significantly impacted, especially in IT. Nothing is going to change with hiring so make the appropriate changes to how you are hiring and retaining talent!!”
“I love when I hear clients (or even co-workers) say, “when we go back to the office...” I just shake my head. WE ARE NOT GOING BACK TO THE OFFICE. EVER. Please carry on with the new normal. Especially companies who still interview and onboard the way they used to!”
“Companies that once said ‘we are always going to be remote’ are now saying ‘we were just kidding. You have to be hybrid or come back full time.’ That is causing problems. We changed our model and now employees are unhappy.”
“Big question is why? ‘Because we want you to’ is not a reason. The pandemic proved people can be productive working from home.”
“Some days people go in and the few people onsite are on Zoom calls all day. What is the point?”
“Going to the office is a chore. Hour commute is a chore. Getting home at a reasonable time has changed. We liked being in office, but it was a time suck.”
“Technology adjusts and so should management. If there is a new cloud technology better and cheaper than AWS, users will adopt it in a heartbeat. It is the same thing with work models.”
“One of our largest clients has shown flexibility with .Net and Java developers to work completely remote. They realize they cannot afford to lose software developers. However, they are pushing hard for hybrid two or three days a week for scrum masters, agile coaches, product managers and other collaborative roles.”
“What if you are on a very collaborative team that is trying to get a new product out — creative idea sharing, passing off the football from one teammate to the next? I don’t think Zoom accomplishes that as well as in person.”
“We’re missing out on mentoring and coaching. I don’t see how new employees can get up to speed without that.”
“I have a couple clients who require workers to be onsite once a week, but they are flexible; there’s not a set day. That seems to work. Another client wants contractors in downtown office every day and they are willing to pay enormous salaries to get them there.”
“Our team has been consistently saying candidates are stuck in a remote lifestyle, even if they have to touch infrastructure and routers. I don’t think this can go on forever. We can’t all work remote forever.”
“Clients are not budging. Workers cannot go into unemployment forever. It’s about educating them and getting away from their silver spoon attitudes.”
The Future is as Clear as Mud
It may be true that in-person work is beneficial to career development, but after two years of flexible work options, remote work may be a tough knot to unravel from company benefits.
While hybrid work promises an infinite range of ways to work, there is also a seemingly infinite number of ways for leaders to get it wrong. Careful planning and execution are essential.
What will the workplace look like in a year or so? It’s hard to read the tea leaves. As long as there is a robust job market and workers have leverage, you are going to see remote work. If jobs start to become scarce, then hybrid will likely start to dominate.
What do you see happening?