Friday 7th January 2022
What separates hybrid, flexible and remote work?

The future at work is evolving rapidly. In fact, it’s happening so fast, adapting to it is a work in progress.

Despite the perception that employees never want to return to an office, some of the most recent data paints a more complicated picture. Fifty-six percent of employees are actually looking forward to returning to the office, according to a recent Grant Thorton survey. They just want to do so in a more flexible way: 40 percent say they will look for a new job if they are forced to return to the office full-time.

And of course, we all know that the Great Resignation continues to impact the United States. Based on Gartner’s research, the average cost of a departing employee is nearly US$19,000. The research firm also recently looked at what this means for a sales organization: if you have a sales force of 100 sellers with 18% turnover, the total annual impact is US$335,000. Therefore, talent retention and attraction are top of mind for business leaders (something we explore in our new eBook: The Great Reward).

Hybrid work is still a work in progress

Of those companies that are doing a mix of home and office work, many are struggling to manage some of the chaos that it can generate.

Case in point: Brett Hautop, head of workplace at LinkedIn, recently told The New York Times in an article about the challenges many companies are facing right now that “[h]ybrid is most definitely tougher than completely in-person or completely remote. It takes a lot more forethought, and none of us, or anybody else at any company, has figured out exactly how it’s going to work.”

In part, it may be that a hybrid model is still a bit too rigged for many employees — especially those with families. Colleen McCreary, the chief people officer of Credit Karma, recently told CNBC that hybrid isn’t adaptable enough for employee needs, and so the company is using a more flexible approach.

“If my kid has soccer on Thursdays and I have to be in the office all day on Thursday and can’t get him there, that may be a hybrid, but it’s not flexible and isn’t working for me,” McCreary explained. 

Setting the record straight

So it’s clear that there’s some confusion around the terms ‘hybrid work’, ‘remote work’ and ‘flexible work’. To demonstrate the difference – and underline the fact that these terms are not interchangeable – we’ve set out what each one means here:

  • Hybrid work: set days in the office as decreed by management, with no flexibility in the arrangements. This causes problems when team members, peers or different departments need to collaborate, but aren’t necessarily in the office at the same time.
  • Remote work: employees work fully from home and never come into the office any more. This eliminates commuting, and suits employees who may have moved to smaller cities or more rural areas during the pandemic, and so it may make sense for certain roles. However, it removes any in-person interaction, which can have negative impacts around socialization, isolation, mental well-being and job training.
  • Flexible work: hands choice of working arrangements to the individual employee, who (with the agreement of their employer) can define a set-up that suits their preferences, productivity and work/life balance. This can be organized so that when employees are in the office, they get a seamless, consumer-like experience for reserving workspaces, meeting spaces and other resources that’s as easy as making a restaurant reservation.

Taking flexible work further

At Condeco, we believe that flexible work is full of potential for businesses that get their approach right. We believe this includes:

  • Maximum choice: Employees choose when to come into the office, and can book workspaces needed in seconds, at any time, from any location.
  • Safe, self-service: Employees can manage their days in the office to suit their schedule, including booking desks, meeting rooms, parking, lockers, video calls, on-site gym equipment, shuttle bus spaces, etc., organized with the use of technology.
  • Easy collaboration: Quickly check co-workers’ schedules, so that meetings and collaboration can be organized efficiently.

What’s more, employers should regularly monitor office utilization and employee experience trends. This information allows you to make regular changes to keep the office perfectly tuned to employee expectations.

Learn how to deliver flexible work in your organization with Condeco’s Flexible work eBook.

Research report: Attitudes to Hybrid Working.

Attitudes to Hybrid Working Report

The impact of hybrid work on employees and employers.

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