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Types of hybrid and remote work models for your business

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Are you toying with the idea of going remote but are not sure you want to “go all the way”? 

No worries — in this article, we’ll present 6 different hybrid and remote work models for your consideration.

Let’s dive in!

What are work models?

Work models represent standards for organizations’ daily functioning, especially relating to where employees work from.

Traditional work models were primarily office-based, but that is quickly changing. Thus, there are now remote and hybrid work models.

What is the remote work model?

The remote work model allows employees to work remotely, either from home or any other premises not belonging to their company. Its popularity has grown during the pandemic

But, as companies try to navigate their way out of lockdown, they experiment with different combos of on-premises and remote work — which brings us to the next question.

What is a hybrid work model?

A hybrid work model combines in-office and remote work to varying degrees.

Although hybrid work is not without its challenges — e.g. achieving optimal communication between remote and in-office employees — there’s no doubt it’s the hottest workplace trend, and it’s just gaining traction.

6 Types of remote and hybrid work models to choose from

There are many variants of remote and hybrid work models, and each company can customize the concept according to their preferences and needs.

But, an extensive Microsoft study has found that 73% of workers want remote work options, and employers will have to adjust to that desire.

For now, 6 types of hybrid and remote work models have emerged as the dominant variants, ranging from mostly office-bound ones to entirely remote versions.

Office-first (remote-friendly) hybrid model

Office-first or office-based hybrid model requires employees to come to the office most of the time while allowing them to work remotely (usually from home) for a fraction of their working time.

Employees are usually given a day or two per week or several days per month for remote work.

Advantages of the office-first hybrid model

Here are some benefits the office-first model offers:

  • Employees can stay at home for personal matters without missing work
  • Employees can save time on commuting

Disadvantages of the office-first hybrid model

Here’s what’s less than ideal about this model:

  • Can lead to operational problems (i.e. remote workers miss in-office meetings)
  • Can lead to conflict (if only a certain number of employees a day is allowed to work remotely)
  • Impractical for companies with multiple locations
  • Limiting for employees who can do their job fully remotely

Who is the office-first hybrid model best for?

Companies whose employees’ tasks include a combination of: 

  • Activities best done face-to-face (e.g. business lunches with clients), and 
  • Quieter activities (e.g. analyzing data).

Example companies using the office-first hybrid model

  • Apple
  • Amazon

Success rating: ⭐⭐

Partly remote hybrid model

In the partly remote (also known as remote-ish) hybrid model some teams are fully remote (e.g. content team), whereas others are office-bound (e.g. the HR department). One of the largest surveys of remote workers has found that as many as 43% of respondents work within such a model.

In some companies operating on this model, office employees are also allowed some remote flexibility, but their main characteristic is that they also have fully remote teams.

Advantages of the partly remote hybrid model

Partly remote companies can:

  • Source non-local talent for remote teams
  • Reduce overhead
  • Get closer to dispersed customer bases through remote employees

Disadvantages of the partly remote hybrid model

On the other hand, this model can:

  • Create team silos (office vs. remote teams)
  • Make remote teams feel second-tier and cut off
  • Be biased in favor of office teams

Who is the partly remote hybrid model best for?

This work model is best for:

  • Companies wanting to expand beyond their physical locations
  • Companies in which part of the workforce can work remotely

Example company using the partly remote hybrid model

  • Stripe

Success rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Flexible hybrid model

The flexible hybrid is a work model that gives employees the flexibility to choose when they want to work from the office and when from elsewhere. 

This model can sometimes impose certain limitations, such as mandatory office Mondays, for closer collaboration.

The leadership in this model can be both office- and remote-based, whereas some leaders choose to reinforce the company policy by fully embracing flexibility.

Advantages of the flexible hybrid model

Here’s how the flexible hybrid is beneficial:

Disadvantages of the flexible hybrid model

On the other hand, this model can:

  • Create team silos
  • Be damaging to the careers of remote-first employees (especially with office-based leadership)
  • Lead to a diversity crisis (e.g. women with children prefer WFH, and single young men prefer office work, which gives them more exposure to in-office management)
  • Lead to “ghost town” offices (if employees predominantly choose to work from home)

Who is the flexible hybrid model best for?

Co-located organizations where everyone has the opportunity to choose where they want to work from and there’s a robust everyday communication solution, such as the business messaging app Pumble.

Example company using the flexible hybrid model

  • Reddit

Success rating: ⭐⭐

Choose-your-own-adventure hybrid model

The choose-your-own-adventure model actually offers multiple work models employees can choose from. 

It may sound like the flexible hybrid at first, but the main distinction is that this model asks employees to decide on one of the offered work arrangement options and stick to it.

The model can offer several arrangements, such as: 

  • Full-time office work, 
  • Office-based work with several remote days a week, and 
  • A fully remote option.

Advantages of the choose-your-own-adventure hybrid model

Here’s how this model can be beneficial:

  • It provides flexibility in choosing employees’ preferred work model
  • It ensures predictability
  • Company is in control of resources (based on employees’ choice of model)
  • Company can source non-local talent

Disadvantages of the choose-your-own-adventure hybrid model

This model also has potential problems, as it can:

  • Create team silos and disconnect
  • Lead to proximity bias

Who is the choose-your-own-adventure hybrid model best for?

Highly organized companies with remote leadership that want to provide flexibility to their workforce but remain in control of their resources.

Example company using the choose-your-own-adventure hybrid model

  • HubSpot

Success rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Remote-first hybrid model

Unlike in the previous options, in the remote-first model, remote work is the default, be it from employees’ homes or other non-company spaces. 

The company that relies on this model still maintains some office space so that people can occasionally go to the office, but all the operations and policies are in alignment with remote work and its needs.

In other words, this model doesn’t simply allow remote work — it actively encourages it.

Advantages of the remote-first hybrid model

Here’s what’s great about the remote-first model:

  • More equal opportunities for all employees
  • Flexibility for people who prefer office work
  • Better talent acquisition opportunities
  • Less overhead

Disadvantages of the remote-fist hybrid model

Like all the others, this model can have problems too:

Who is the remote-first hybrid model best for?

The model is great for:

  • Companies whose operations don’t require in-person collaboration and on-site work 
  • Companies that want to transition to remote work, but wish to provide some flexibility and comfort to employees used to office work

Example company using the remote-first hybrid model

  • Dropbox

Success rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fully remote model

This is the true remote model where the organization doesn’t have any office spaces or headquarters and everyone works remotely.

Thanks to the rapid advances in technology, it’s now entirely possible to manage a fully remote team without any obstacles

It’s no longer important whether the team is co-located or if they live far away from each other — even across several time zones — as there are ways to stay connected and in sync through asynchronous means of communication.

Advantages of the fully remote model

Fully remote model is great because it:

  • Eliminates proximity bias
  • Provides the widest talent pool
  • Drastically reduces costs
  • Allows employees the flexibility to live and work anywhere

Disadvantages of the fully remote model

Some problems you may encounter with this model include:

  • Difficulty achieving a work-life balance (remote employees can find it difficult to “switch off” after work, especially if they work from home)
  • Poor communication
  • Employees might experience isolation and loneliness

Who is the fully remote model best for?

Great for companies with a distributed workforce.

Example company using the fully remote model

  • Automattic

Success rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Pumble blog.
To learn more about the types of hybrid and remote work models, we recommend reading the full article: