Challenges and benefits of working in a hybrid-remote setting

Why it is worth overcoming the culture and collaboration challenges in a hybrid-remote setting to unlock productivity, cost savings, and global hiring.

Ever since the pandemic started, remote work has been adopted at a crazy pace all around the world. Today, organizations don't ask themselves whether remote work will continue to impact our lives post-pandemic but rather to what extend. As we at Acapela were a hybrid-remote company from the beginning, we have had our fair share of learnings in the past. However, before we jump into the experienced benefits and challenges of hybrid-remote teams, we created a short recap of the three major work settings so we're all on the same terminology.

Recap - 3 major work settings:

  1. Fully remote: There are no office spaces and all employees work in a fully remote capacity.

  2. Hybrid-remote:

    a. There are office spaces. All employees live in close proximity to the office and can decide whether they want to work at the office or at home.

    b. There are office spaces. Some employees live in close proximity to the office and go there daily. Some employees don't live in close proximity to the office and are fully remote.

    c. There are office spaces. Some employees live in close proximity to the office and can decide if they want to work at the office or at home. Some employees don't live in close proximity to the office and are fully remote.

  3. Fully onsite: There are office spaces and all employees work there.

For further context: Acapela has office spaces; some employees live in Berlin, Germany, and go to our HQ during some days of the week; some employees don't live in close proximity to the office (Poland, Estonia, USA) and are fully remote.

Challenges of a hybrid-remote setting

Before diving into the challenges, we should stress that these can be avoided and overcome if the company implements processes countering these potential pitfalls. If you're curious about how to do this, there is another blog post already waiting for you.

  1. Remote employees have worse access to information
    Most companies transitioning to a hybrid-remote work setting haven't been fully remote before but rather fully onsite. This means that informal office chats and random meetings exist to share information and develop culture. In a setting where not every employee is present all the time, information sharing can be a challenge that can eventually lead to confusion, frustration, and eventually underperformance.

  2. The onsite experience dictates the culture
    Hybrid-remote employees often have a suboptimal experience when it comes to bonding with other team members. This can lead to onsite vs remote struggles where co-workers might pass over their counterparts for promotions or development opportunities. Additionally, companies that build culture primarily in the office have a hard time offering remote workers an equal experience when it comes to physical perks and benefits.

  3. The feeling of being lonely and forgotten
    During the pandemic, almost everybody felt somewhat disconnected from their co-workers - imagine that for the rest of your career but nobody noticing it. Although a situation like this is definitely a two-way street, remote workers have a harder time expressing their mood as they are not surrounded by people all the time which makes it easier to hide when they are feeling bad and harder for co-workers to notice if something is going on.

Benefits of a hybrid-remote setting

After reading through the challenges you're probably quite doubtful whether hybrid-remote makes sense at all, but bear with us. Although there the challenges should definitely be taken seriously, they can get overcome when the right processes are in place. And then, the only thing left to do is to enjoy the significant benefits of hybrid-remote.

  1. Productivity gains through uninterrupted working time
    Being in the office is great for connecting with other people or having a change of scenery from a remote setup. However, if a deadline is closing in quicker than anticipated it helps to work from home and thereby having no commute and no co-workers pulling you into a random meeting or social event.

  2. Better access to talent due to flexibility and an increased talent pool
    Every company is made up of the employees that work there. Attracting, hiring, and retaining employees is crucial to every business. Companies offering more flexibility to their employees not only have a much bigger pool to hire from but also attract much more diverse candidates which is crucial for every team's decision-making and cultural setup.

  3. Cost savings resulting from reduced office space
    For an early-stage startup, the business case deriving the savings in office space from having a hybrid-remote work setting exists but is obviously limited. However, as the company scales, cost savings become increasingly apparent. For bigger companies, it will be much more enlightening - to put a number in your head: Capgemini's remote workforce survey showed that expected real-estate cost savings due to remote working will range between 20% and 48% across all industries in the next 2-3 years.

Final thoughts

Having these challenges and benefits in mind and continuing to experience and iterate on our work setting while talking to other teams, we believe that in the future all companies will start offering some variation of hybrid-remote to their employees. Prominent tech companies such as Coinbase, Dropbox, Figma, Spotify, and many others are already championing this evolution, and established corporates such as Siemens and most recently Deutsche Bank are also pulling along. Given the added complexity of a hybrid-remote work setting, we at Acapela figured that teams around the globe need tooling to facilitate this new way of working. If you're interested in what we are building, have a look at our website and reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss the future of work.

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