Company Culture

What Works Best, Full-Time Office Work or a Hybrid Model?


Written by Sean Li • September 28, 2022

What Works Best, Full-Time Office Work or a Hybrid Model?

For many people, it’s been years since they’ve worked from an office. During the pandemic, the majority of us took meetings from the comfort of our homes. And let’s be realistic, it was more than likely that we were still wearing pajamas on those 9am calls.

As many businesses shift back to working in the office, it’s time to doff the pajama bottoms and dust off your professional wardrobe. Most employers encourage their workers to head back to the office, yet they’re still trying to answer this question: how often?

If your company is having a difficult time determining the best way to move forward with office work, here are a few considerations to inform your decision.

Office All Day Every Day

Some companies have already started requiring their employees to work from the office during the week. We used to go into the office each day without too much trouble and with the pandemic further in the rearview, it makes sense to revert back to this routine. And there are many benefits to working from the office full-time, including the following:

  • There are fewer distractions. If you’re one of those people who do their laundry during the remote workday, you might find that you can focus much better without pairing your socks and sorting your undies before your next meeting. Office space is generally conducive towards keeping workers’ minds on the tasks at hand, which can be useful for productivity and flow.
  • You have a clear routine that separates your professional life from your personal life. When your work exists solely in the office, it’s easier to set boundaries and lead a healthier work-life balance. Commutes become the clear start and endpoint to the workday, leaving you with separation between your professional life and your personal life. This is especially helpful for people who have difficulty switching off and leaving work at work.
  • You can avoid tech fatigue by seeing your colleagues face-to-face. With so many platforms in the workplace, it can become overwhelming to recall exactly where you saw important information. Instead of spending time searching for an answer or waiting for your colleague to respond to your message, it’s easier to pop over to their desk and ask them directly.
  • There is more potential for social interactions, including shared meals. Not only do coffee pot conversations happen when you’re in the office, you also have a greater opportunity to organize social activities. And this doesn’t have to mean an awkward karaoke happy hour or an anxiety-provoking group yoga session! It can mean casual catered lunches that are hassle-free. If thinking about coordinating a team lunch still gives you stress, know that CaterCow makes it simple to order food that fits everyone’s dietary restrictions, preferences, and portion sizes - so you can fully focus on meaningful connection with your colleagues.

All that said, there are also some drawbacks to full-time office work. Here are a few:

  • The job market isn’t as excited to be back as employers. Swanky office space is no longer a major sell for top candidates. Many people in the job market are now interested in remote work or other flexible working arrangements, making full-time office work less appealing.

  • Your team’s mental health might suffer from traditional office work. The pandemic gave many workers a taste of a different lifestyle, one that was largely independent and unwitnessed. For some, this was actually helpful for their mental health (and not just for the introverts!). Many workers found that it was easier to engage in self-care practices at home without others around watching them, whether that’s a face mask or some quick exercise.

  • Even when you enjoy working in the office, the commute still sucks. Commuting to work means less time for personal lives, and it can also be expensive. Even when your team is happy working in the office, some people might get distracted by the anticipation of a tedious commute home.

Get Flexy With It

Many businesses are turning to hybrid models of work to stay current with worker preference and a changing work culture. These hybrid models offer flexibility for teams to spend some days in the office and some days at home (hello again, pajamas, my old friend!).

There are a lot of reasons why many workers prefer hybrid working models. Some of the benefits for a hybrid working model are the following:

  • There are still many opportunities to have social interactions and feel connected to one another. Depending on who is in the office each day, you’ll still get to see your colleagues and enjoy the casual conversations that happen in a shared physical space. This, paired with the independence of working from home, can be a refreshing balance to the week.

  • When there is less time spent in the office, seeing your colleagues becomes more special. Only going into the office once or twice a week helps retain novelty, especially when you get to see your favorite colleagues. This could warrant a celebratory lunch with easy catering from your favorite restaurants.

  • Hybrid working arrangements are especially helpful for the diverse needs of your team. Flexible working arrangements benefit neurodiverse people, people with different personalities, and those with varying preference for social connection. By allowing the individual to choose their work routines, employers are making the workplace a more accessible, welcoming space.

While hybrid working arrangements seem like the dream for many, there are also some reasons why it might not be the way to go. Here are some reasons that companies don’t utilize the hybrid working model:

  • Not everyone is in the office on the same day. This means that your meetings still include an online component, so you’re pretty much doing the same thing in the office that you would be doing at home. And despite best intentions, you could still miss out on social interactions.
  • It can be technically - and socially - difficult to facilitate hybrid meetings. With some colleagues online and others in the office, you might find yourself in hybrid meetings struggling where to look (at the screen or across the table!?). Meetings are already stressful enough without this unnecessary layer.
  • Implementation and enforcement can be difficult. If your business has a hybrid working model, it’s best for employees to have a clear policy. It can be difficult to monitor and enforce such a policy, especially if you have a large team where everyone has different schedules.
  • It’s not suitable for all industries. There are some workplaces where it doesn’t make sense to maintain remote work, especially when the industry requires physical presence.

So, which is better?

The answer to this question depends on your company’s goals, culture, to-do list, and team member needs. When you’re deciding what’s best for your team, it’s vital to be intentional about your policy and figure out what makes the most sense. No matter what you decide, remember to give your team - and yourself! - some time to adjust. There’s always room to switch to another working model in the future, especially if you find yourself craving some change!