Implementing new types of work models: A full guide

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, people hear the term “work model” more often than ever—and for good reason. Adapting to new work models, providing flexible work schedules, and creating an incentive plan for staff often increases employee engagement.

By granting employees flexibility, organizations demonstrate that they trust and appreciate their staff enough to give them a say in how they get work done. That’s why more organizations are searching for flexible work models.

This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of the three most common types of work models. Read on to learn more about your organization’s options and why virtual workers are working from home by choice, not necessity.

What are work models in business?

Work models are the arrangements and strategies an organization has to guide employees’ daily responsibilities. They provide needed structure and flexibility to staff and help define organizational priorities and expectations that contribute to workplace culture. Of course, they also vary depending on organizational structure, culture, and business needs.

Work models also influence the effectiveness of teams by providing common values and a vision for staff to share; a bonded team is an effective one. Choosing a work model that makes the most sense for your organization is important because it often makes a difference in your team’s ability and motivation to accomplish business goals.

The 3 common types of work models

Several variations of work models differ based on the settings in which organizations allow employees to work: on-site work, remote work, and hybrid work. Companies typically select one of those three models depending on the specific particularities of their business.

Each type of work model comes with advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out more.

Office environment

In-office employees are asked to complete specified hours from one central location. This work model helps boost office morale, collaboration on projects, and a strong culture because staff members are more likely to feel like a team when they are surrounded by their colleagues.

  • Advantages
    • Faster decision-making processes: When employees are in proximity to one another, they more readily hold casual, last-minute meetings to make decisions that arise throughout the work day, rather than waiting on email responses or formally planning a Zoom meeting.
    • Higher levels of communication and collaboration between teams: From friendly impromptu chats to more serious conversations about conflict, for instance, communicating in person is simpler and more effective overall than virtual communications.
    • Ability to oversee and closely track employee productivity: Being in-person holds staff accountable because they are required to meet certain expectations for pace and work ethic to win their bosses’ approval and avoid disciplinary actions.
  • Challenges
    • Lack of employee enthusiasm: When COVID-19 hit, many workers got used to the added flexibility of remote work, including the time freed up by not having to commute. Returning to the office sometimes takes a hit on staff’s energy and dedication to their work.
    • Higher probability of favoritism and bias in the workplace: With employees working in close quarters, bosses are more likely to express favoritism or prejudice toward certain employees, and staff are likelier to pick up on it. Resulting office politics between staff might distract and discourage workers.

Remote first work

The fully remote work model allows employees to work from any location they choose full-time, home or internationally, rather than in an office. With fully remote employees, businesses don’t have to supply or outfit an office, which is often costly. However, it is wise for companies to develop a compensation strategy for remote workers.

  • Advantages
    • Increased time efficiency without daily commute: Since workers don’t have to tack on hours of travel to their day, they save time, energy, and money. This advantage is especially apparent to staff who live far from their companies or in busy cities with heavy traffic.
    • Flexible schedule lets employees work when and where they’re most productive: Whether your staff are parents, pet owners, night owls, travelers, or just want a flexible work-life balance, they will thank you for this benefit of WFH (work from home). This employee experience perk also appeals to prospective hires in different time zones.
    • Talent and team diversity: Organizations often source their teams from anywhere in the world, opening the door to a wider talent pool and more diverse staff. Employees benefit from belonging to a more diverse team, too. Here are a few additional tips for your organization to retain employees.
  • Challenges
    • Reliance on technology: Tech, while useful, is not always reliable. We all experienced the ups and downs of Zoom at the beginning of the global pandemic. WiFi issues are a frequent obstacle in remote workspaces, and employees who are less comfortable with technology will likely struggle with this aspect of WFH.
    • Blurred lines in work-life balance: Maintaining a solid work-life balance with clear boundaries is crucial for protecting staff’s mental and physical health and productivity. An advantage that quickly become a challenge, blurred lines in work-life balance is a probable challenge of working in a remote work environment. Often, office space blurs into home space in employees’ remote location when a physical office is not involved. Wondering why? Employees stay logged on longer than their scheduled hours if their WiFi is working. They might also lose track of time with this way of working without the usual hustle and bustle of their colleagues taking lunch breaks or packing up at the end of the day. Overworking sometimes causes staff to burn out.
    • Lower levels of supervision: Some employees work well under their bosses’ guidance alongside their colleagues. Their productivity and diligence is sometimes threatened when face-to-face supervision is removed from the equation. Similarly, company culture, team building, and teamwork take a hit with fully remote teams.

Hybrid work

The hybrid workplace model comprises a combination of the aforementioned in-office and WFH models. Hybrid work looks different from organization to organization. In some models, certain employees are assigned to in-office work while others are assigned to work virtually.

In other models, all hybrid employees are permitted a fixed hybrid model schedule (for example, working in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays and out of the office on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays).

Other companies leave it up to employees to decide what their combination of in-office and WFH hours looks like in these types of hybrid work models. No matter how a business implements this work arrangement, it’s important to have a strategy going in.

  • Advantages
    • Boosted productivity and creativity: With hybrid schedules, staff sometimes elect to meet up in the office when in need of collaboration during the workweek and to WFH when managing an independent task or project. This setup communicates to workers that their organization believes they know what is best for them and make decisions accordingly.
    • FlexCosts optimization and savings: Businesses that only allow in-office work face higher costs for office rental and maintenance, including the provision of air conditioning and office supplies, for instance. Because hybrid work means that staff is not always working in the office, costs decrease. All the money that would have otherwise gone towards having the office cleaned, for example, is saved or better spent elsewhere.
    • Improves work-life balance: This work model has all the benefits of WFH but makes it easier for staff to stick to a fixed schedule and punch out at a reasonable hour.
  • Challenges
    • Communication setbacks or discontinuity: Even though some of the staff in a hybrid work model are in-person, the whole team has to rely on video calls and virtual meetings to accommodate those who are not. While some call hybrid work the future of work, more reliance on technology and less in-person communication with coworkers leads to miscommunication because it becomes harder for staff to communicate as frequently and pick up on their colleague’s body language.
    • Synchronization of workflow: With some team members doing WFH and others at the office, it’s more difficult for staff to maintain productivity and avoid scheduling conflicts. This may lead to frustration and negatively affect performance.

What work model is best? 4 Tips to help you choose

Now that you are an expert in the three most common work models, you are better prepared to decide which one is right for your team or which you prefer for your organization to offer. It’s important to be informed when making those decisions because a lot is riding on them (productivity, engagement, and satisfaction, for starters.)

Here is a list of four tips to help you select the right work model for your organization.

1. Identify the organization model, business needs, and stage of growth

Determining the best work model for your organization depends greatly on your business goals and progress. It’s tempting for organizations to immediately turn to remote or hybrid work in order to save money upfront, but remember that the cons of these models may outweigh the benefits if your organization is not ready to make the switch.

For example, a start-up business will likely struggle more than an established multinational company at implementing a sustainable hybrid work model long-term because it is more difficult for them to overcome the communication and scheduling challenges that hybrid work poses.

2.Understand task requirements and team size

Another factor to consider when deciding on a work model is how many staff members your organization employs and what those staff members are responsible for. Before an organization successfully implements a new work model, their leadership first determines whether it makes more sense for certain employees to work in the office or at home, depending on what they do.

For instance, hybrid or remote work is more apt if your business is made up of a sizable marketing team who continues working seamlessly in a virtual setting.

3. Consider the costs of implementing new work models

Even if the decision is being made to save money, switching work models comes with its own price tag.

For example, suppose your organization is switching from in-office to hybrid work, but you only have desktop computers. Then, it might be necessary to invest in laptops to provide to staff who WFH. Also, your organization might decide to bring on additional IT staff to support a newly-virtual team.

4. Listen to your employees and determine expectations

It’s important for businesses to consider employees’ preferences and to keep in mind that those preferences may change with time and experience. To achieve high productivity and employee satisfaction, businesses sometimes allow staff to be a part of the decision-making process when selecting a work model.

After all, employees are the ones who this decision impacts most. Their productivity and enthusiasm for the work are riding on it.

Implement hybrid work models to encourage work-life balance

In conclusion, we are able to confidently say that hybrid work models enhance the work-life balance. That’s a significant achievement. Employees who strike a healthy equilibrium between work and personal time typically experience greater job satisfaction and exhibit enduring commitment. Plus, job seekers are increasingly attracted to companies that promote such balance.

Every work model—whether it’s office-based, remote, or hybrid, and everything in between—presents its unique set of challenges and a wealth of opportunities. A prime opportunity lies in the ability of organizations to optimize costs. For businesses aspiring to economize and achieve more, contemplate transitioning to a new work model.

Remember, a robust compensation software that supports your work model is crucial, especially when managing employees in different locations with hybrid and remote work. You’ll also take salary range considerations into account when implementing a new work model. Take our word for it, the payoff is worth it.