As most readers will know, the global workplace landscape has experienced a paradigm shift in recent years, and two models are now becoming increasingly normalized: hybrid and remote. I’ve written extensively about the foundational elements of the latter and how embracing it can lead to exponential benefits, while the Livit Blog is brimming with articles on a wide array of related topics, including how remote work can help overcome societal challenges.
Today I’m going to explore a question that’s often asked by executives, managers, HR professionals, and others interested in the future of work: Which is the best model, hybrid or remote? In this post, I’ll be sharing a few examples of international and local organizations that have successfully implemented either one, along with insights into which is the best choice for a range of workplaces. If you are considering making the shift to hybrid or remote, you’ve certainly come to the right place!
Understanding hybrid work
As the name suggests, hybrid work combines both in-person and remote work, with team members usually dividing their time between working at the office and elsewhere. A company could also require some employees to work at the office full-time, while others are fully or partially remote. Hybrid has steadily risen in popularity—particularly post-pandemic—as it offers some flexibility while still allowing companies to maintain a physical presence and ensure regular in-person collaboration. As of this year, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work in a hybrid model.
Leading international examples of hybrid workplaces include:
- Microsoft: Employees can decide to work remotely part-time without formal approval from a manager. A spokesperson recently said: “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements, and business needs we have at Microsoft, but our hybrid model provides employees with that crucial balance between remote flexibility and in-person connection.”
- Slack: Employees can choose to work remotely for up to 50% of their working hours. CEO Lidiane Jones recently said: “[What enables us to work effectively] is focusing on the jobs that highlight the connection of people when it makes sense. Where people really want to have connections with their colleagues and their work and learn from one another, that is the most effective. ”
Here in Bali, a great hybrid example is:
- Kopernik: We recently featured the award-winning research and development lab in our list of favorite social and environmental initiatives. During the pandemic its team worked from home, but when it was safe to return to the office, all employees were asked whether they’d like to continue working remotely for part of the week. After staff-wide consultation, it was decided they would be required to work from the office for two days each week, and be free to work from anywhere on remaining days. Co-founder and COO Ewa Wojkowska told me: “Our hybrid work model is designed with a focus on our team’s wellbeing. We believe that giving people the choice to work wherever they feel most productive and comfortable is not a perk but a strategic advantage. The ability to interact with colleagues at the office can foster collaboration, spark creativity, and strengthen our sense of community. Meanwhile, the freedom to work from home can allow for deep, focused, and uninterrupted work. Depending on what people’s home situations are, they can choose where they are most effective.”
Understanding remote work
As mentioned at the top of this piece, I’ve written extensively about remote work for Livit’s blog and spoken about it in a wide array of forums, so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead I’ll jump straight into leading examples of fully-remote workplaces:
- Automattic: The company behind WordPress has been fully remote since 2005 and has 500 employees scattered across the globe, including several here in Bali. A few years ago CEO Matt Mullenweg told The New York Times: “It’s one of my life missions to have more companies be distributed. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for opportunity. It’s good for the economy.”
- GitLab: A major open-source collaborative software development platform, GitLab is the world’s largest 100% remote company, with over 2,000 team members in more than 65 countries. In the words of its Co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij: “For companies, there are unique operational efficiencies, huge cost savings on office space and a broader pool of job applicants. For employees, this structure enables off-peak lifestyles, family-friendly flexible schedules, and improved work/life harmony. We believe that a world with more all-remote companies will be a more prosperous one, with opportunity more equally distributed.”
Here in Bali, a great fully remote example is:
- Mailbird: A desktop email client for Windows and one of our startup partners, Mailbird allows you to manage calendar events and has social media, task management, file sharing and video conferencing integrations. It’s been 100% remote since it was founded 12 years ago. Operations Manager Christin Baumgarten told me: “Two of the many reasons we decided to become a remote-first company—which are still relevant today— were embracing long-term flexibility and accessing a deeper talent pool. Without the costs or limitations of a physical space, we can align our team’s growth with customer demand. The funds we save on rent and physical infrastructure can be re-invested in providing a better product for our customers and better personal growth opportunities for our employees. Our entire team is working location-independent. This means we are not restricted to looking at any one geographical location for future Mailbirdians. This is a great benefit because it allows us to base our hiring decisions only on merit and cultural fit, ensuring we have the most cohesive teams possible.”
Which model is best for different types of workplaces?
For workplaces that require a balance between in-person collaboration and remote flexibility, a hybrid model is the obvious choice. It suits sectors where face-to-face interactions are typically crucial, such as healthcare, development, and manufacturing. Hybrid work allows employees to engage with colleagues, clients, benefactors, and physical resources while still benefiting from the advantages of remote work.
Among other things, here at Livit we run a startup and innovation hub in Bali, meaning part of our team is location-dependent. The tasks and responsibilities of these team members are organized around customer service and work periods for which their presence is essential, alongside administrative or creative work when their presence is optional. We have reimagined their employee experience, helped them upskill, and encouraged them to personally adjust their roles so they better suit them as individuals (what’s known as “job crafting”). As a result, these team members have greater flexibility and can contribute to our other services that are not location-dependent.
For any workplace aiming to prioritize global talent acquisition, employee autonomy and satisfaction, work-life balance, and cost-efficiency, the benefits of remote are exponential. However, it requires laying the foundations for—and constantly nurturing—a remote work culture that fuels performance by optimizing employee wellbeing.
How can Livit help you make the shift to hybrid or remote?
We have over a decade of experience supporting entrepreneurs, startups, remote workers and companies that want to transform the way they work and build digital, streamlined, impactful enterprises that enable sustainable growth and happier, more satisfying lives.
Our vision and philosophy have enabled us to develop unique frameworks that we’ve used to incubate dozens of successful businesses, build powerful remote teams, and help more than 30 of our partner companies expand.
Our services include training and consultancy on building high-performance, engaged, scalable, remote-capable teams. Livit can even become your company’s fractional Head of Remote.
Meanwhile, if you’re an individual wanting to expand your remote work skills, be sure to check out our Remote Skills Academy.
Are you ready to make the shift or want to know how you can do hybrid or remote better? Get in touch with us today!