Fully Remote Team vs. Hybrid Team: What’s Better?
These days, many business owners and project managers are deciding whether to go with a fully remote team or build a hybrid team and workplace. Both have their advantages, both have their challenges. And since 39% of knowledge workers could leave a company if a “hard return” to fully on-site work is on the cards, choosing either of the models is essential.
Even Apple’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook is still considering what option is best for the company. A memo sent to employees in June explained that they should begin returning to offices by early September for at least three days a week — and that the company will evaluate the new work schedule next year.
Now it’s over to you — remote teams vs. hybrid teams — which model is the right solution for your company?
In this article, we’ll be comparing a fully remote team with a hybrid team. We’ll be assessing each one’s pros and cons to help you get a more complete picture of both so that you can see how they might fit into your company culture.
Let’s dive in.
What Is a Fully Remote Team?
A fully remote team is one that works 100% outside the office. Employees can work anywhere — at home, in a coffee shop, in a different country — but they won’t step foot inside a regular physical office (or, at least, they rarely do).
It’s sometimes even the case that a remote business doesn’t have a physical office at all. Their whole team works remotely and everyone is connected via online tools, such as project management software and video conferencing software.
What Is a Hybrid Team?
A hybrid team is similar to a fully remote team in that your team will still work remotely. But the difference is that they might only work remotely 50% of the time and spend the other 50% in the office.
It also isn’t unusual for a company these days to have a physical office where most of their staff are based on a daily basis, while one or two staff members operate remotely (some may even be based in another country altogether).
Let’s now take a look at the core differences between a fully remote team and a hybrid team.
Benefits of a Fully Remote Team
Since 95.3% of people who started working remotely due to COVID-19 said that they would recommend remote work, it’s no surprise that it comes with many benefits. Some of them are:
1. Less commute stress
Avoiding the daily commute is one of the top benefits of remote working, as it typically takes lots of time, energy and money. In fact, the average one-way commuting time in the U.S. is 27.6 minutes and according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2019 Urban Mobility Report, “the average Angeleno spends an estimated 119 hours a year stuck in traffic.” San Franciscans, meanwhile, get to enjoy the second-most delayed commute, spending an extra 103 hours a year stuck in traffic. With remote work, these wasted hours could be spent on actually working and being more productive.
2. More candidates to choose from
When your team is completely office-based, you’re restricted when it comes to the number of candidates you can choose from. You’ll mostly be hiring locally based workers, unless you can persuade some to uproot and come work at your company.
When your team is fully remote, however, you get to pick the best of the best from a global talent pool. The major advantage here is obvious: You get access to higher grades of talent because you’re not restricted by location, and this can make your businesses more competitive.
3. Increased productivity
Just because someone works remotely, it doesn’t automatically guarantee increased productivity. But statistics have shown that remote teams are generally more productive — with Prodoscore reporting an increase in productivity by 47% since March of 2020 (compared to March and April 2019).
This is largely because they can set their own hours. They’ll also be able to work in an environment that’s more natural to them, which can go a long way in improving motivation and productivity.
4. Better employee retention
High employee retention rates are extremely helpful because they save time and money and other resources. The employee retention rate among remote workforces is high because employees don’t have to quit if they decide to move to a new location, they’re generally happier with their work-life, and they have more flexibility and freedom.
Benefits of a Hybrid Team
The unexpected shift to hybrid teams within the last two years has brought many benefits to companies and their employees. The top of them are:
1. Improved work-life balance
Some people work better in an office, while others perform optimally outside the office in a remote setting. According to Owl Labs’ 2020 report, 77% of respondents felt that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier and that working remotely would make them better able to manage a work-life balance.
With a hybrid team, you’re able to find out who functions best in what setting. You can then divide your team up accordingly so that some work remotely and some work in the office — and others mix up the two, spending some of their working life at home, and the rest of it in the office.
2. Less cost
A hybrid workforce costs less than a workforce that’s fully functional in the office, but it still allows you to see some of your team on a weekly basis. Your company will spend less on office supplies, as well as office space.
If your office space is currently too large and is costing you too much money, a hybrid team will allow you to keep working in an office — but in a downsized one.
3. Stronger employer-employee trust
Trust in employee and employer relationships is extremely important to cultivate successful companies. Hybrid teams naturally build trust as you are empowering your staff to complete their tasks on their own terms, and sometimes on their own schedule. This in turn helps build the trust employers have in their employees and removes the need to “watch” over them to ensure they perform well.
4. Ideal for the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us work. If you want to retain office workers but fear the impact that a virus outbreak can have on your company, a hybrid office could be the solution you need. With a hybrid office, not every single worker is required to come in. This means you can reduce the risk of an outbreak, which means fewer sick days and more stabilized productivity.
Hybrid Workplace Challenges
In the day-to-day running of every company, there are always challenges, and the hybrid team model is no different. Here are some of the challenges it brings:
1. Office redesign
Companies will need to redesign their office to create a hybrid workplace. This means exploring technologies that enable employees to reserve office space in advance so that there is a space for them to come in, and also to reserve meeting rooms for cross-team collaboration. In addition to this, employers need to make sure staff members are given the tools to work effectively wherever they are when they choose not to come into the office.
2. Team building when there’s distance
With hybrid workplaces, the need for regular team interaction is more important than ever. However this can be challenging, as hybrid team-building meetings typically involve some attendees gathering in the same room and others joining remotely via Zoom, live streaming or chat apps. In order to include every staff member, you will need to create activities that are fully inclusive and flexible.
Remote Team Challenges
Since it was until fairly recently most companies worked from offices, it’s likely that their managers won’t have experience managing remote teams. Here’s how they can solve some of the main challenges they’ll experience:
1. Communication and project management
If your team is fully remote, communication will always take place virtually, via tools and chat apps, email and phone. This can cause difficulties in collaboration, and recent Gartner research found that 71% of HR leaders are more concerned about employee collaboration this year than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely the result of employees living in different cities and perhaps countries.
In fact, 74% of respondents from a Buffer survey shared that people on their immediate team are in multiple time zones. To solve this, managers will need to put in place a strict communication policy so that deadlines aren’t missed and projects don’t lag behind.
2. Cybersecurity concerns
Cybersecurity is a major concern to companies who are transitioning to a fully remote workplace. This is for good reason, as an industry survey found that “56% of senior IT technicians believe their employees have picked up bad cyber-security habits while working from home.”
Research from Tessian also found that “one in three employees think they can get away with riskier security behaviors when working remotely.” This puts important and confidential data at risk, including customer’s payment information. To counter this, it’s a good idea to invest in cybersecurity awareness, provide high-quality encrypted tools that help enable secure remote work and create strong security policies.
Fully Remote Teams vs. Hybrid Teams: How Do They Compare?
We’ve seen the benefits of a fully remote team and a hybrid team, but how do they compare on key matters? The question is: remote teams vs. hybrid teams — which is better?
Remote and hybrid teams are seemingly the future of work, with many organizations around the world choosing one or the other. Both certainly have their advantages, but it’s really important that you factor in your unique situation and the needs of your team before deciding which model is the right one for you.
Productivity and communication are the keys to success for any company. Will a hybrid team boost both, or will going fully remote benefit your company more? What’s more important — having staff in your office some of the time, or allowing your team the flexibility to work wherever they want, while you enjoy a global talent pool when hiring candidates?
There’s much to weigh up, but whichever model you opt for, choosing the right tools for productivity, communication and project management will also help you fine-tune your model so that you keep building and scaling.