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The New Normal: Understanding Remote & Hybrid Work


“Business on top, pajamas on the bottom” was an undreamt of dress code prior to 2020. But as the pandemic redefined the workplace, professionals around the world began having high-stakes meetings with this secret Zoom attire. This was a luxury or a rarity once, but the pandemic painted a different picture, and perhaps for the better. Today, we will take a glance into the evolution of remote work and explore its benefits and challenges along with solutions, and its future (including Gen Z) in the business world.


From Necessity to Normal 

Welcome to the era where coffee spills on your keyboard are more likely than on your favorite suit. Before COVID-19, terms like “remote work” and “hybrid work models” were rarely sprinkled in corporate conversations. Today, these terms have found a permanent place in our everyday speech.
The global impact of COVID-19 brought about a transformative shift in remote work trends. The once “bustling” office spaces turned quiet as lockdowns and health guidelines pushed millions globally to embrace remote work. Before the pandemic, only 17% of U.S. employees were working from their home offices full-time. With COVID-19 in 2020, that number skyrocketed to 44%. It was a necessity, and technology rose to the challenge. As an indicator, Docusign and Zoom stocks, albeit down now, skyrocketed due to demand.
In addition, 74% of Gen Z employees in the U.S. now express a preference for remote or hybrid work arrangements. According to Owl Labs’ survey in 2022, if the ability to work from home was taken away, two-thirds (66%) of workers would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility, and 39% would be willing to resign. What is more, more than half (52%) expressed readiness to accept up to a 5% pay cut for the privilege of choosing their work location, and 23% would consider a cut of 10% or more. 
This translates into that to attract the brightest minds of the younger generation, businesses must embrace remote work possibilities. So the question is, is remote work better for productivity or a cover-up for shirking? The answer may surprise you. Let’s find it out.


Is Remote Work a Cover-Up?

Half of the employees feel managers view their in-office colleagues as more diligent and dependable than those operating remotely, and more than half of the managers are still concerned that workers are less productive when working remotely. However, research portrays another scene. 
The reality is two-thirds (62%) of workers feel more productive when working remotely. Among the participants, only 11% felt their productivity decreased, citing household distractions as the primary culprit.
Interestingly, there’s also a generational divide in these perceptions: 66% of Millennials believe they are at their most productive when working from home, whereas only 46% of Boomers share this sentiment. It appears Millennials and Gen Z are more fit for remote work, while Boomers and Gen X lean towards the traditional office environment. 
Another comprehensive study involving 16,000 call center employees revealed remote work led to a 13% performance increase. About 9% of this increase was due to working more minutes per shift, which resulted from fewer breaks and sick days. Around 4% was from making more calls per minute, attributed to a quieter working environment. As a result, the company extended the work-from-home option to the entire company and allowed the experimental group to choose between working from home or the office.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Remote Work


Advantages of Remote Work for Employees

Those hurried mornings, with breakfast missed and office deadlines pressing, are memories of the past with remote work. The kitchen is never too far anymore. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Financial Relief: Hybrid workers can lower their expenses by choosing their homes over offices. This amount can reach up to $20 per day for hybrid workers in the U.S. Additionally, remote work offers the financial advantage of relocating to areas with lower living costs.
  • Holistic Well-Being: A study published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that the influence of remote work on the work stress of workers can generate positive effects. This can create a positive impact on the quality of life, family–work balance, physical and mental well-being, productivity, self-leadership, and autonomy, among others.  
  • Efficiency: The energy and time expended on daily commutes can be redirected towards productive work.
  • Flexibility: Employees can enjoy the liberty to schedule tasks per their natural rhythms. For example, they can decide on writing an article when they are most alive – midnight.
  • Global Reach: Employees can seamlessly work at companies worldwide, bypassing the constraints of location, whether in premium or less sought-after regions.


Advantages of Remote Work for Employers

While there might be no “Dundie Awards” in the virtual workspace, remote work offers its own set of offerings for employers.
  • Talent Magnet: Companies offering remote or hybrid models hold a competitive edge in talent acquisition and retention, especially as younger employees seek flexibility to improve work-life balance.
  • Productivity Boost: According to the survey, 62% of workers state they feel more productive when working remotely.
  • Cost Savings: As a big bonus, employers reduce office rental costs and expenses like employee commutation and meals.
  • Harnessing Global Talent: Geographic constraints evaporate in a remote work setting, opening doors to a global talent pool.
  • Scalability: Expanding operations becomes easier without the constraints of physical office spaces. As the business grows, onboarding new remote team members can also be more swift.


Challenges of Remote Work for Employees

For some, the main challenge for employees is their cats who won’t stop walking across keyboards or missing the office gossip by the water cooler. Yet, the transition to remote or hybrid work may present more challenges.
  • Work-Life Balance Backfire: While remote work offers unparalleled flexibility, it also blurs the lines between personal and professional lives. Many find themselves working outside traditional hours, leading to potential burnout and a disrupted work-life balance.
  • Technical Problems: The comfort of an IT team being just a wave away in an office is replaced with individual battles against unstable internet connections, software hiccups, and hardware malfunctions.
  • Isolation: The solitude, beneficial for focused tasks, can sometimes translate to feelings of isolation and disconnection, which can in turn impact mental well-being and lack the sense of community found in office environments.
  • Global Collaboration Hurdles: Those in global teams have to juggle various time zones, understand cultural nuances, and ensure that collaboration tools are accessible and functional for all team members.
  • Increased Job Demands: With the onset of remote working, certain roles have seen an escalation in workloads. This is particularly due to the complexities introduced by digital platforms, the demands of virtual collaboration, and the absence of physical team cohesion.
These challenges require proactive strategies. Employees can establish a designated workspace in their homes to minimize distractions and draw a reasonable line between work and personal life. Consistent routines with clear start and finish times can also help maintain work-life balance and avoid burnout. In addition, while technical issues are inevitable, having a backup plan, such as a secondary device or alternative internet solution, can reduce downtime. 
For those feeling the strain of isolation, scheduled virtual social interactions or periodic in-person team gatherings can restore a sense of connection in the company. Ultimately, it is through understanding and addressing these challenges head-on that employees can harness the full benefits of remote work.


Challenges of Remote Work for Employers and Managers

We often hear managers saying, “Sorry, I was talking while muted” or “You forgot your camera on” on Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams. However, employers and managers have a lot more challenges that come with remote work environments.
  • Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: As operations moved online, the digital landscape posed an ever-present threat. With teams scattered across different networks, the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches grew exponentially, making cybersecurity a top priority.
  • Potential for Reduced Oversight: Remote work, while fostering autonomy, can also raise concerns about employee accountability. Without the immediate oversight offered in physical settings, some employers fear that remote work may lead to shirking or decreased productivity.
  • Communication Barriers: Despite the myriad of virtual communication tools available, the absence of face-to-face interactions can sometimes lead to miscommunications, delays, or misunderstandings. Maintaining team cohesion and fostering collaboration becomes a more conscious effort.
  • Operational Challenges: Implementing and managing tech tools, ensuring consistent internet connectivity for all team members, and addressing tech glitches are operational hurdles that need constant attention.
  • Shift in Managerial Styles: Managers have to adapt to a new leadership style, one that balances trust with accountability. Traditional supervision is replaced by results-based evaluations, which might be a paradigm shift for many.
To overcome these challenges, employers and managers should consider providing clear guidelines about remote work expectations to eliminate ambiguities. Fostering open communication channels, where employees feel comfortable voicing concerns or asking for assistance, is key. 
Team and task management tools such as Slack, Trello, and Asana can help managers follow up on business operations. In addition, cloud storage solutions, including Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive, provide easy access to documents from anywhere. Given they are used judiciously, activity-tracking software can be a solution to monitor productivity. 
Overall, the holistic approach should foster accountability and mutual respect. When hiring, emphasizing traits like self-discipline, motivation, and integrity can create a team that thrives in remote settings. Ultimately, the success of remote work for employers and managers lies in blending trust with a solid structure in which flexibility doesn’t compromise productivity.


The Future of Workplaces


Virtual Reality (VR)

While VR technology was once primarily associated with entertainment and gaming, it is now set to redefine the professional landscape. With immersive digital workspaces in VR, team members, regardless of their physical location, can interact, brainstorm, and problem-solve together in real-time.

Beyond being visually appealing, VR brings the ‘presence’ back that many professionals miss in standard video calls. VR’s spatial workspaces allow for organic interactions, helping to dispel the cloud of isolation some remote workers might struggle with. It reintroduces the dynamism and pulse of a traditional office but without its constraints. 

To explore more implementations of VR and Metaverse in the workplace, make sure to check our latest article: “Ready Player Two?: The State of Metaverse


Gen Z in Business 

According to a survey from ResumeBuilder.com, managers and business leaders found that 74% believe Gen Z is trickier to work with than other generations. However, sidestepping this generation isn’t an option as they represent the future of the business world. 

In another study conducted by McKinsey, Gen Z is more likely to hold multiple jobs than older workers to ensure their financial stability. Interestingly, 77% of Gen Z respondents are actively seeking new job opportunities, indicating their dynamic engagement in the workforce and their outlook for better opportunities.

Several factors drive this Gen Z behavior in business. Growing up as digital natives, they have unparalleled access to global opportunities and awareness of different lifestyles, making them more inclined to pursue their dreams. Economic uncertainties have also instilled in them a sense of financial caution, leading to their tendency to diversify income sources. Furthermore, the competitive culture, especially evident on online platforms, further fuels their drive. 

Securing Gen Z’s talent is not just beneficial but essential for the future vitality of any enterprise. For businesses aiming for long-term success, understanding and accommodating their needs and aspirations is paramount. As they value flexibility, work-life balance, and mental well-being, offering remote or hybrid working opportunities can significantly attract them as employees and increase their productivity. 



Change in business has historically been driven by necessity, innovation, and the continuous pursuit of better efficiency. Shifting from “nice-to-have” to an almost essential model for many employees and companies, remote work combined all three. But in the modern workplace, unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all work model to boost productivity. Rather, each unique business model, department, or even individual works more effectively under different circumstances. 
While remote work provides the flexibility to work from anywhere, it also hands the responsibility to the employees. For some, this translates to freedom; for others, a test of discipline. The key is choice. It is essential for companies to find that balance in each unique workplace. 
To leverage the full potential of different work models, businesses need to invest in understanding their employees’ needs and preferences. This can be done through surveys, trials, and tracking progress. In addition, it can be beneficial to offer employees a one-time home office setup stipend. This way, the employee can configure their space to fit their needs which can reduce distractions and help create a healthy work environment.
An essential aspect of this evolution is communication. Adopting a trial-and-feedback approach, where new strategies are tested for a period and then fine-tuned based on employee feedback, can yield optimal results. This not only ensures that businesses create a model that aligns with their unique workforce, but it also future-proofs organizations against unexpected disruptions.
All in all, when implemented correctly and when it fits, adopting remote or hybrid work models to your business can help you in numerous ways. From attracting young talents to reducing overheads and amplifying productivity, the advantages are ample for businesses ready to adapt.
Let’s create the ideal work model for your business together. Reach out today and elevate your success with the best workplace strategy tailored to your business!