Hybrid Work Strategy

Turning Remote and Hybrid Work into Strategic Advantages

Explore the challenges and possibilities of work flexibility, and where to start

April 18, 2024
5-minute read

The global workforce has undergone major shifts in the last few years.  

Traditional 9-to-5, in-office workplaces suddenly transformed into dispersed, at-home remote-work setups amid COVID-19 concerns and lockdowns. Then as restrictions were lifted, hybrid work models — where employees work in the office for only part of the week — began to take shape. Now many business leaders are considering return-to-the-office mandates to improve overall employee performance and productivity.

But regardless of what arrangement employers choose, one thing is for sure: The workforce that went home in early 2020 isn’t the same one we have today. Years of adapting to remote and hybrid work environments have fundamentally changed the way employees work. They want flexibility, autonomy, and a sustainable work-life balance — so much so that many are making career changes that prioritize personal goals, mental health, and well-being.

Link to a related e-book, "Making Flexibility Work."

About 64% of employees surveyed in the ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2022 report say they would consider looking for a new job if required to return to the office full-time. Meanwhile, 52% say they would willingly take a pay cut to ensure a remote or hybrid work arrangement.

Although understanding and keeping pace with these new expectations is a challenge for every organization, remote and hybrid work options will likely be key in attracting and retaining talent in the future.

The Highlights and Headaches of Remote and Hybrid Work

Work flexibility isn’t just a nice perk to offer employees. For many industries and roles, it’s essential for attracting the best talent with high-demand skills.

More than a third of current job postings for technology and marketing, for example, mention location versatility to appeal to digitally skilled workers, according to TalentNeuron data. And more than a quarter of legal and finance job postings feature work flexibility, reflecting how analytical tasks have evolved to operate seamlessly across dispersed workforces.

Yet only about 15% of all current job postings, across roles and industries, mention work flexibility — a clear indication that employers aren’t fully onboard when it comes to remote and hybrid work options.

While work flexibility offers several benefits — such as boosting employee satisfaction, attracting top talent, and opening up larger, more diverse talent pools — it can also pose significant challenges for organizations, too. Successfully managing a hybrid workforce requires a different approach than handling a traditional in-person team or fully remote workers, for example. Some of the most challenging flexibility hurdles include:

  • Communication and collaboration: Maintaining effective communication and collaboration can be an issue for team members dispersed across different locations. Ensuring seamless connectivity and fostering a sense of inclusivity, regardless of location, becomes crucial.  
  • Technology integration: Deploying and managing workplace technology is already a complex process. But it becomes even more problematic when IT teams struggle to ensure collaboration and productivity tools are performing optimally for users outside corporate networks.
  • Employee engagement: Sustaining employee engagement and a cohesive company culture is more difficult when team members are in different locations, yet still critically important. When team members are working remotely, they can often feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the team.  
  • Performance management: Assessing and managing the performance of a remote or hybrid workforce requires reevaluating traditional metrics and establishing fair and consistent criteria for both remote and in-office workers.
  • Work-life balance: Just like employees who come to the office early and stay late almost every workday, many remote and hybrid workers also struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Although they save commuting time, employees who can work from anywhere at any time still need boundaries to avoid burnout.  
  • Security concerns: Maintaining strict security on work devices is crucial for protecting sensitive data and lowering the risk to digital workplaces. While work flexibility can offer many benefits, it also introduces vulnerabilities that could compromise devices and increase the risk of breaches.
  • Cultural shift: Adapting to a remote or hybrid work model requires a mindset shift within the organization. Leaders must communicate the benefits, address concerns, and ensure that the company's values are upheld in both remote and in-office settings.
  • Inclusivity and equity: Ensuring all employees, regardless of their location, have equal opportunities for professional growth and recognition can be a difficult task. Diversity and inclusion are also essential across digital workplaces, requiring leaders to actively address any disparities that may arise across remote and in-office teams.
  • Focus on results, not activity: Even in hybrid workplaces, it can be tempting to fall into old habits and focus on attendance and activity, or how much time employees spend working, rather than results. In fact, about 87% of CEOs say they’re likely to reward those employees who make more of an effort to come to the office, according to KPMG’s 2023 CEO Outlook. However, this approach can be counterproductive and lead to low morale and distrust. Instead, organizations need to focus on results that will propel their business goals and produce better outcomes.
A link to a related webinar, "Unlocking Competitive Advantage."

How Technology Will Enable Hybrid, Remote Work

To overcome many of these challenges, companies of course need remote and hybrid work policies that benefit the business as well as employees and potential job candidates. Doing this requires:

  • Building trust and outcome-driven results instead of a certain amount of “face time.”
  • Clear, positive communication about work flexibility in employee value propositions (EVPs) and messaging.
  • Choosing options that make sense for the function and/or industry. (For example, technology roles can be more flexible than manufacturing positions.)
  • Gathering input from employees and driving adaptability for whatever the future of work holds.

But hybrid work is also full of transformation possibilities — another big benefit for companies that are looking to stay agile and competitive. As technology continues to advance and workplaces adapt to changing needs, work flexibility is likely to become the norm — allowing employees to choose the best setting for their productivity and work-life balance.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are poised to enhance collaboration and communication among remote and on-site teams. VR-powered digital offices could provide immersive experiences, simulating a physical workspace and enabling real-time interactions. AR can enable employees to overlay virtual information onto their physical surroundings, facilitating remote assistance and presentations.  

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also continue to influence hybrid work dynamics. AI-powered tools can automate administrative tasks, provide personalized recommendations, and improve decision-making. Smart scheduling systems could also process individual preferences, team dynamics, and project requirements to create efficient and balanced work arrangements.

With these kinds of advancements, the future of remote and hybrid work also holds more promise for employee well-being and mental health. Organizations can invest in tools and resources to support remote workers and foster a sense of belonging. Virtual team-building activities, wellness programs, and mental-health support, too, could become integral parts of hybrid work culture.

What Success Looks Like for Remote and Hybrid Work  

Progressive organizations make hybrid work environments successful by implementing many key strategies. They prioritize flexibility and understand what employees want from their work experiences. They invest in virtual-work technology that supports seamless collaboration and communication.  

Many of these companies also maintain a strong company culture through regular check-ins, team-building activities, and inclusive practices. They empower employees with the autonomy to balance work and life, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.  

By adapting to the changing work landscape, smart companies create environments that attract and retain top talent while fostering innovation and productivity.

A link to talk about work flexibility and see a demo of TalentNeuron's platform.