Onsite vs Remote vs Hybrid Workers: Work Model Pros & Cons

Onsite vs Remote vs Hybrid Workers: Work Model Pros & Cons

Since 2020, the landscape of the working world has transformed dramatically, with a significant shift from traditional onsite roles to remote and hybrid work models.

This article explores the ongoing relevance of onsite workers, detailing the advantages and challenges of maintaining an onsite workforce in today’s diverse work environment. It provides strategic insights and practical tips for integrating onsite, remote, and hybrid work models effectively within your business.

Different Work Models

What is an Onsite Worker?

Onsite workers are based in a physical workplace. This could be in an office, on a worksite, or at a restaurant or hotel. Onsite jobs include both desk jobs and deskless workers.

What is a Remote Worker?

Remote workers are those who work off-premises, often telecommuting from their home offices. Their roles are usually based in a digital workspace. This makes it easy for companies to expand their global workforce, and accommodate geological flexibility.

What is a Hybrid Worker?

Hybrid workers are employees who shift between being onsite and remote. Their flexible working arrangements bridge the gap between remote and onsite workers. This allows businesses to maximise the benefits of both work models while minimising the disadvantages.

woman works in onsite and deskless work environment

Differences Between Hybrid, Onsite and Remote Jobs

The differences between onsite, remote and hybrid workers go beyond their location. Several factors need to be considered when choosing the right work model for your business.

  • Work environment: Onsite work environments allow for greater control over who accesses the space and what resources they can use. You do not have as much physical oversight of remote employees’ work. This makes it more challenging to manage permissions and access.
  • Nature of tasks: While many office jobs can be fulfilled remotely, technical work, manufacturing, and quality assurance often require workers to be physically present.
  • Use of technology: Both remote and onsite teams rely heavily on technology. Remote workers make extensive use of cloud services, including online storage and virtual machines Onsite workers’ needs range from basic office tools to specialised equipment that cannot be operated remotely.
  • Work Hours and Flexibility: Hybrid and remote jobs allow for more flexibility than onsite roles. They don’t have to work around build or site operating hours or worry about logistics like travel time and traffic. However, flexible hours can also make communication and task management difficult.
  • Communication styles: Onsite employees benefit from the ease of direct conversations and quick, clear information sharing. Remote communication relies on instant messaging, emails, and calls, which can pose challenges in scheduling and immediacy.
  • Team collaboration and dynamics: Some technologies streamline project collaboration, even when working with global colleagues. However, it is significantly simpler to collaborate and build a team dynamic with people working on site with you. If you do want your teams to work together more effectively, this cross-functional collaboration course can help.
  • Training and skills development: Onsite training can integrate both in-person and virtual methods, offering a blended approach to learning. For remote workers, training options are typically limited to virtual learning environments, which can differ significantly in engagement and effectiveness.

remote worker feels stressed and isolated while looking at laptop screen

Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Work Models

Each work model comes with benefits and downfalls. Even hybrid work environments, which try to accommodate both working onsite and remotely, have shortcomings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Onsite Work

There are several benefits of hiring onsite workers. Most of these stem from having people in the same office environment, who can communicate quickly and effectively.

  • Reduces human error caused by miscommunication
  • Provides direct oversight & control
  • Enhances company culture
  • Makes teamwork and collaboration easier
  • Improves transfer of learning among team members

There is a reason, however, that businesses are migrating away from an onsite-only work model. Disadvantages of in-person employees include:

  • Increased operational costs
  • Employees experience more work-related stress and anxiety
  • More distracting work environments
  • Less flexibility in terms of workspace and hours
  • Companies are restricted to hiring local employees.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Remote Work

During the global lockdowns of 2020, many businesses had to accommodate remote work. With this shift, they also uncovered many benefits of having employees work remotely.

  • Reduced overheads in terms of office rental, utilities and supplies
  • Access to a broader talent pool
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Greater focus on environmental sustainability with fewer commuting requirements
  • Easier to scale operations

However, businesses that were forced to embrace remote working were also quick to point out the disadvantages of remote work.

  • More difficult to communicate and collaborate
  • Challenging to manage and supervise remote staff
  • Increased cybersecurity risks
  • Increased reliance on technology can lead to higher-cost support and infrastructure
  • Decreased engagement with company culture

Advantages & Disadvantages of Hybrid Work

Embracing a hybrid work model combines onsite and remote work which provides unique advantages.

  • Increased employee satisfaction and retention
  • Improved reputation as an employer
  • Optimised office space usage
  • Enhanced resilience to unpredictable changes like global pandemics
  • Access to a broader range of markets

However, even as hybrid work attempts to reduce the disadvantages that remote and onsite workers present, it comes with its own disadvantages.

  • Requires more complex management and staff coordination
  • Inconsistent work experiences
  • Increased technology expenses
  • Disconnected workforces
  • More complex policies and difficulty ensuring their compliance

onsite worker ttakes time during her workday to focus on employee wellbeing

Work Model Impact on Employee Wellbeing

Beyond the practical benefits and advantages for your business, it’s also important to consider the impact that different work models may have on employee wellbeing.

Mental Health Considerations

Different work models contribute uniquely to stress and anxiety, potentially leading to burnout.

Fields like manufacturing, mining, and hospitality are already demanding environments. Onsite workers in these areas often experience added stress from long commutes and intense physical demands.

Employees working remotely may struggle with isolation and the blurred boundaries between work and home life. This can lead to extended work hours and increased anxiety.

Hybrid workers often face challenges in adjusting to inconsistent work environments. The disruptions to their routines can increase stress due to constant changes in their working conditions.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is crucial for employee satisfaction and well-being. Imbalances often leave employees feeling stressed and frustrated, and even leaving to find more accommodating jobs.

Onsite work typically offers better work-life balance by providing a structured routine. There are regular hours and clear physical boundaries between work and home. This allows employees to start disconnecting from work the moment they leave the premises.

Remote work, despite being based at home, does not necessarily improve work-life balance. The overlap of personal and professional spaces can extend work into personal time, making it challenging to disconnect fully.

Hybrid working, while blending onsite and remote work advantages, does not consistently enhance work-life balance. The complexity of alternating between a home and office setting can lead to scheduling conflicts, overcommitment, and difficulty in managing personal and professional responsibilities.

Tip: Time management techniques help promote a healthy work-life balance and are a good starting point.

Technology for Onsite, Hybrid, and Remote Workers

Since each working model comes with unique challenges and requirements, it’s natural that they will also benefit from using different technologies.

onsite worker checking her smartwatch

Technologies for Onsite Workers

When considering technologies for onsite workers, you’ll want to prioritise tools that enhance operational efficiency and real-time data accessibility.

  • Mobile devices and apps allow employees to access information, communicate in real-time, and manage tasks efficiently. Our free digital literacy and mobile technology course can help them use these apps and devices more effectively.
  • Smartwatches and other wearable technology can provide hands-free access to data and health monitoring. They will be particularly apt for physically demanding jobs.
  • Devices connected through the Internet of Things (IoT) can help your onsite teams monitor equipment performance and resources. This will see employees prioritising tasks according to the most pressing needs.
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies provide controlled simulations that are especially useful during onsite training. Employees get hands-on experience without their actions having a real-world impact.
  • Automating repetitive tasks sees onsite employees focusing on more complex or meaningful work. You’ll maximise the benefits of having employees onsite, rather than having them doing work that could otherwise have been accomplished remotely.

remote employee suffers from headache and backache indicating the need for an ergonomic setup

Technologies for Remote Work

Remote workers need access to technologies that will facilitate communication and ensure that they have the resources they need to work effectively.

  • Collaboration software will help employees communicate more effectively and work on projects together with minimal friction.
  • Investing in video conferencing tools will allow for clearer and more personal face-to-face communication than messaging tools.
  • Cloud services provide those doing remote work with access to the files and systems that they need.
  • Time management training and tools help remote staff maximise productivity while also maintaining work-life boundaries.
  • A high-quality home setup, including ergonomic furniture, high-speed internet and clear audio and video tools improves comfort, productivity, and communication in a remote environment.

hybrid team meeting between onsite workers and remote employees

Technologies for Hybrid Work

Companies that embrace hybrid work environments will often find that some team members are remote and others are in-office on any given day. Implementing technologies to help bridge that gap will be critical to make hybrid working a success.

  • Unified communication platforms bring together email, chat and video calls, as well as make it easier to share files. This will help both remote and onsite teams to collaborate more effectively.
  • Finding the right project management tool is critical since not all options will meet the needs of both onsite workers and those working from home. Our free project management basics course may also come in handy.
  • Space management software makes it easier to organise work environments where your employees are sporadically in the office. Hotdesking, for example, will allow team members to work from any available spot without needing assigned seating.
  • Scheduling tools will help your hybrid employees to make the most of the time that they spend on-premises. They can help you to schedule specific days for teams to come in and meet face-to-face, or schedule tasks that will boost face-to-face interactions without overcrowding your offices.
  • It’s critical to find hybrid meeting tools that integrate video calls with in-person team meetings, allowing everyone to participate equally.

5 Best Practices for Managing Onsite, Remote and Hybrid Workers

When taking on different work models, there are a few best practices you can follow to ensure smooth and effective collaboration and optimum productivity.

  1. Establish clear communication channels and expectations. Ensure that communication flows smoothly and happens daily. It’s also important to set clear expectations for availability and responsiveness. Improving communication skills can be an invaluable way to ensure success when working with different work models.
  2. Implement regular check-ins and feedback loops. No matter where your teams are working, make sure you check in with them regularly. This will help with effective project management and ensure employees are happy with their personal and professional development.
  3. Leverage technology for collaboration and productivity. It’s not only remote team members who will benefit from collaboration technology. Making it easy for your employees to work together no matter where they’re based will see projects and tasks being handled more efficiently.
  4. Foster inclusion and team cohesion. Organise activities that include all of your team members, no matter where they’re based. This will help combat the isolation that those who work remotely can feel, and to build up your company culture.
  5. Tailor management approaches to individual needs. One management strategy may work for a particular remote employee, and fall flat for another. No matter where your team members are working from, make sure that you take a personalised approach to managing their needs and performance.

man watching virtual training video

Tips For Training Onsite vs Remote vs Hybrid Workers

One final area to consider when embracing onsite, remote and hybrid models of working is the training for your teams. Some training methods will be better suited to an onsite job, while others may be best done virtually, appealing more to remote and hybrid workers.

    1. Embrace blended learning. Interactive training materials that appeal to different learning styles will help you engage remote learners and onsite employees in more meaningful ways. This will also make them more likely to retain knowledge over time.
    2. Leverage video content. While onsite workers may be able to see processes in action, remote and hybrid employees won’t always get that opportunity. Recording videos will help them to gain a better understanding of the way these processes work.
    3. Implement on-the-job training. When your onsite and hybrid employees are on-premises, make sure that you’re taking the time to give them practical, hands-on experiences. And for remote workers, you may want to consider putting together some virtual simulations.
    4. Digitise training content. By making your training materials digital, you can ensure that all of your team members have access to the same resources and materials.
    5. Schedule check-ins. Whether they are digital or virtual, make sure that you’re setting aside time to discuss progress, clarify doubts and provide feedback.
    6. Create opportunities for in-person training. Even if your team members are largely going to be working remotely, it’s important to set aside time for in-person training sessions. This way all employees feel connected to their team and your company.
    7. Adapt content for remote delivery. While your existing training material may cover the basics, onsite employees often end up with more in-depth training. They can ask questions and explore topics that may not be part of your official documentation but which add value to their learning experience. Try to incorporate opportunities for remote teams to do the same. Break information into shorter, more digestible segments and encourage team members to ask questions whenever they think of them.
    8. Encourage social learning and mentorship. Onsite employees learn from the people around them. It’s important to try and incorporate this kind of knowledge-sharing into your virtual training materials. This can be done by combining videos and interactive elements with regularly scheduled video calls with different team members.
    9. Identify skill gaps. A critical part of training is making sure that your employees have the skills you need from them. This is especially important with remote workers. You won’t be able to see the way that they work, so it’s essential that you’re running regular assessments and tracking their progress.
    10. Ensure all training is accessible. Bringing training content online and adapting it for remote workers is one matter. However, you also need to make sure that it’s easily accessible, even for those who may not have the best internet connection or are working in different time zones.

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