Skip to main content

During the pandemic, the way we worked was revolutionised with the increase of remote work. Workers were able to avoid long commutes and maintain a much-improved work-life balance. Because of this, many employees want remote work to stay for the long-term. Brent Hyder, the President and Chief People Officer (CPO) of Salesforce noted this in a blog post: “Historically, about 18% of our employees have worked remotely, and today, that number has increased to 27% — and rising — as we continue to innovate around how and where we work.”

In spite of this, many companies have recently started mandating return to office quotas, as there are also many benefits to support the transition back into the office. This includes greater opportunities for coaching & collaboration, and access to resources that may not be available to employees at home.

Recent change in Irish employment law under the 2023 Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act will require employers to consider employees remote work requests. While it will not obligate employers to grant the request, it will necessitate that the reason for refusing is clearly outlined to employees.

It is important for long-term employee retention to find a compromise between the company and the employees on what works best for the overall health of the business. As the pendulum swings between the autonomy and flexibility offered by remote work and the collaborative synergy of a shared office space, companies find themselves grappling with a crucial question: What is the happy medium that balances employee satisfaction, productivity, and the unique dynamics of each work environment?

Remote work vs Transition back to office

The Benefits of Remote Work

When it comes to remote jobs, there are some major benefits for employers and employees.

  1. Flexibility: Remote work offers greater flexibility in terms of work hours and location. Employees can create a work environment that suits their individual preferences, potentially increasing productivity.
  2. Work-Life Balance: Remote work can contribute to better work-life balance, as employees have more control over their schedules and can better integrate work with personal responsibilities.
  3. Global Talent Pool: Employers can tap into a global talent pool when allowing remote work, accessing a diverse range of skills and perspectives without being limited by geographic location.
  4. Reduced Commute Stress: Remote work eliminates the need for commuting, reducing stress and saving time. This can contribute to improved mental health and well-being.
  5. Increased Productivity: Some employees find they are more productive when working remotely, as they can create a personalised and comfortable work environment tailored to their needs.

Frank Farrelly, the CEO of Sigmar Recruitment, offered some insight on another of the benefits of remote work. “Companies, where possible, should factor the person and the role when deciding if remote work, works. It has been transformational for example in increasing the female participation rate.”

The Benefits of Transitioning Back to the Office

There is also a set of benefits and advantages that you get from being in-person that you cannot obtain through remote work.

  1. Face-to-Face Collaboration: In an office setting, employees have the opportunity for spontaneous interactions and face-to-face collaboration, which can foster creativity and teamwork.
  2. Structured Environment: Offices provide a structured work environment, which can help some individuals stay focused and organised. The separation of work and home life is more distinct.
  3. Access to Resources: Offices typically provide access to resources, equipment, and facilities that may not be readily available at home. This includes specialised tools, meeting rooms, and technology.
  4. Company Culture: Working in an office allows employees to be immersed in the company culture, fostering a sense of belonging and connection with colleagues.
  5. Professional Development: Being physically present in the office can provide more opportunities for networking, mentorship, and professional development.

How to Implement Hybrid Working

The key strategy for companies to implement now and in the future must find a way to maximise the benefits of both remote working and office working. We asked some of our contacts about their experiences regarding the transition back to the office.
In this blog post, Salesforce CPO Brent Hyder outlined their “Return & Remote” guidelines which describes the four ways that they facilitate hybrid working:

  • Office-flexible: Office-flexible teams are assigned to an office location, and work in-person three days per week – whether in the office, meeting with customers or partners, or attending events
  • Customer-facing: Customer-facing teams are in-person with each other or their customers four days per week
  • Technical: Product and engineering teams are in-person together 10 days per quarter for product releases, team-building, and collaboration
  • Remote: Remote employees are not assigned to an office and remote status is agreed upon with the employee’s manager

These guidelines have helped increase office attendance by 40% globally since they were implemented in February 2023.

Cian O’Brien, who was the Board Sponsor for Volkswagen Group UK’s FoW strategy review in 2021, explained their approach to implementing hybrid working. “Our approach was to stand back and move beyond the impacts on our business the pandemic had brought and to use this as an opportunity to consider how we could deliver higher levels of employee engagement and corresponding productivity for the organisation. We eventually settled on a hybrid model which provided enhanced flexibility and allowed head down actions remotely whilst retaining in person interaction opportunities to support collaboration and more complex problem resolutions.”

He explains that the hybrid model they chose prioritises flexibility through remote work for individual tasks while preserving in-person interactions to support collaboration and address more complex challenges.

David Fox, the Managing Director at Sodexo Ireland, expanded on this topic, first talking about his observations he made while working with their clients. “We are fortunate to be working with several clients across many differing industry sectors and without exception, from our regular client conversations, we see a marked increase in our clients requiring their teams to be based in the office two or three days a week, to help ensure they realise the benefits of being together; particularly focusing on wellbeing, greater opportunities for coaching & collaboration, and to enhance company culture.”

He then spoke about Sodexo’s own strategy. “While evolving workplace strategies, organisations should consider the varying needs and expectations of employees and guests. At Sodexo, we have recently relocated to our new headquarters at One Grand Parade which is designed to offer three distinct experiences – workplace experience, designed collaboration space, and showcase experience for our clients. Our new location welcomes everybody, whether a team member in Sodexo, or a client, into an inclusive and collaborative environment to enable everybody to feel comfortable and deliver their best.”

Our Strategy

Here in the HR Suite, we operate under a hybrid working system. We have employees who work full time remotely, others who work full time in office, and others who divide their time between the office and remote working. The decision is made on a case-to-case basis whether an employee will work remotely or in office with both the employee’s and the clients’ best interests being part of the consideration process. We understand that there is no one size fits all solution and that what works best for one employee may not necessarily be the best option for another. We believe that by embracing the diverse benefits of both remote working and in-office working, organisations can pave the way for a more flexible, productive, and resilient future. Fostering a work environment that seamlessly integrates the best of both worlds and creating a happy medium between the two.

Need Help Transitioning to Remote Work?

The HR Suite are HR consultants, with a vast knowledge of all things HR. We specialise in HR outsourcing, recruitment process outsourcing, HR business solutions, and relocation advice. We also offer a huge range of HR Training courses available online, in person or through bespoke packages.  

If you are interested in any of our HR services or courses, get in touch with us today.

author avatar
Ciarán Finnegan Chief Operating Officer
Ciarán is responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of The HR Suite including strategic planning, process optimisation, and driving growth initiatives. Ciarán brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this critical leadership role. Prior to joining The HR Suite, Ciarán had a long and prosperous career in the human resource field as the Head of HR at Sodexo for Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ciarán has a BA in Economics, MSc in Management and started his career in hotel operations management before transitioning into human resources.