Remote Work Model vs Hybrid Work Model: Which is Better?

Discover the pros and cons of being a fully remote business or operating on a hybrid working model – & which is the best for you.

April 20, 2023
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Since the Covid pandemic, most businesses have shifted to either being fully remote or operating on a hybrid working model.

And while both working models are better suited to knowledge work than forcing your people to come into an office five days a week, they both still have their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Read on to discover which might be the best fit for your business.

What is a remote work model?

Organizations that embrace a remote work business model don't have a physical office. Instead, their employees are free to work from wherever they like – as long as they’ve got a stable internet connection. 

Of course, remote working doesn’t make sense for every company. If your people need access to specialist equipment or can only do their job from a particular location, you’ll need them on-site. But the Covid pandemic opened plenty of leaders’ eyes to the fact their people could get their work done from home – and a lot of their teammates preferred it.

Companies with a remote work model

Remote work has been popular among tech companies since long before the pandemic. The likes of Shopify, Buffer, and 37signals (the company behind Basecamp) all offered remote working before 2020.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has been a fully distributed company since it was founded in 2005. Its leaders say this has allowed the company to hire top talent from around the globe while making it efficient and sustainable.

Zapier is another fully remote company. Its co-founder Mike Knoop explains a big reason why: "Non-remote work defaults to the highest distraction communication first, which is in-person. Remote work defaults to the lowest, which is no communication… Fewer distractions lead to faster work – you have to purposely decide to enter into more distracting conversations [when working remote]."

Book a demo of Assembly so you have all the tools you need to manage a remote team in one place.

The pros and cons of a remote work model

The most direct benefit remote work brings to companies is that they don't have to pay for office space, saving them up to $11,000 per employee each year.

Another huge pro is that people get more done when they’re working from home, with 77% of workers reporting they’re more productive when working remotely. 

91% of remote workers also say the biggest benefit of working from home is a better work-life balance. Since financial stability is the only thing US workers consider more important than work-life balance, that has a huge impact on your engagement and turnover

And while it’s not for everyone, the people who like working from home don’t want to give it up. In fact, a massive 56% of remote workers would look for a new job if their employer asked them to return to the office.

But that doesn’t mean embracing telework will solve all your problems overnight. In fact:

  • 25% of remote employees say they struggle to unplug from work.
  • 69% of people have experienced burnout while working from home.
  • 70% of remote employees worked while they were ill during the pandemic.

Remote leaders therefore need to work hard to make sure they don’t encourage an “always on” company culture. They should make it clear to their teammates that they should mute notifications and stop checking their email once their workday is done, as it’s not good for anyone if they burn themselves out.

Last but not least, working from home can be isolating, with 24% of people saying their biggest problem with remote work is loneliness. Leaders can take a leaf out of Automattic’s book to help solve this issue: “We get the whole company together once a year for seven days so that Automatticians can create bonds that influence them all year long.”

What is a hybrid work model?

A hybrid business has office space their employees can use, but also allows them to work from home.

Each hybrid business is set up differently. Some demand that their employees come into the office a certain number of days a week, while others leave it up to each teammate to decide how often they come into the office – if at all.

Try Assembly to see how easy it can be to manage a hybrid team.

Companies with a hybrid work model

Most of the world’s leading companies have embraced hybrid working since the Covid pandemic, including Amazon, HubSpot, and IBM.

While the pandemic proved the majority of these company’s employees could easily work from home, for the most part their leaders have chosen to encourage their staff back into the office at least some of the time. An email Apple CEO Tim Cook sent to all employees in June 2021 sums up why: “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other… Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

Today, most employees expect to have the option to work from home at least some of the time. If you’re not at least offering hybrid work, you’ll seriously struggle to retain top talent in 2023.

The pros and cons of a hybrid work model

59% of workers prefer hybrid working, meaning it's a big hit with most employees. And if given the option, the majority of workers would prefer to be in the office between one and three days a week.

Plus:

  • 81% of hybrid employees are highly engaged.
  • 78% of employees say a hybrid work plan leads to a better work/life balance.
  • Hybrid workplaces have seen an average 12% reduction in employee turnover.

And while your employees will generally be more productive when they work remotely, the office is still king for some kinds of work. For example, 45% of people think meetings with ten or more attendees are worse when done on video call rather than in-person.

Of course, one of the big downsides of a hybrid working model is that you’ll be paying rent on office space that’s rarely going to be at max capacity.

And managing and engaging employees in a hybrid workplace is an art in and of itself. Hybrid businesses need to think carefully about:

  • Whether they’re going to demand that staff come into the office a certain number of days a week – even if they’d prefer to work fully remotely.
  • Whether your employees need their manager’s approval when they want to work from home.
  • If your hybrid working policy is also going to apply to your leaders – and how you’ll handle any feelings of “it’s one rule for them and another for us” if not.

Another complexity you’ll have to navigate is the fact remote employees have a 50% lower rate of promotion compared to their teammates who work from the office. And since 41% of workers say they’ve quit a previous job due to the lack of progression opportunities, you’ll need to be very careful not to discriminate against staff who choose to work mainly or entirely from home when you choose who to promote through your ranks.

Book a demo of Assembly to make it easy to track engagement and retention levels across every department.

Hybrid vs remote work: Which is right for your business?

A remote work model will make your staff more productive and give them a great work-life balance – not to mention save you a pretty penny in rent. However, remote leaders have to keep a keen eye out for burnout, presenteeism, and isolation among their staff. A strong company culture is essential here.  

A hybrid work model is what the research shows most people prefer. It helps keep your employees engaged and helps prevent them from getting lonely. Hybrid leaders just have to think carefully about how they’re going to approach the idiosyncrasies of hybrid work – most of which will be totally new to them. It’s also important for hybrid businesses to make sure their people are actually using their office space enough to justify the hefty expense.

Regardless of which work model you implement, it’s crucial you run regular employee pulse surveys and ask the right questions during one-to-ones to find out whether it’s working for your employees. Every business is different, and listening to your people is the only way to know you’ve got the right working model to suit their needs.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered