Remotely working: All remote or all office. Hybrids are problematic.

This post is already posted on my blog if you find it easier to read there:

Remote work isn’t harder than working in the office, It’s actually easier. The transition is difficult. Changing all the patterns you are used to from the office as an employee/manager is never easy.

When I moved a startup to be completely remote as its CTO in 2015 I discovered the hard way that I had to change how I personally communicate and how the team communicates. I had to adopt new ways of team bonding, conveying company culture, etc.

For remote work to be effective every aspect had to be fundamentally different. One example is the need for written async communication which I wrote an extensive essay about.

The problem with the hybrid model

When I tell people remote will work much better if everyone is remote, I get called dogmatic. “It’s not all black and white”. I’m sure some companies will be able to roll out hybrid models, but they need to know what they lose.

Remote work practices are so fundamentally different from the office, that using a hybrid model of some people remote some are in the office will eventually lead to 2 separate companies within the company.

The remote company communicates through written communication, so their work is transparent and easily accessible to everyone. The office company relies on meetings and in-person talk, so their work is inaccessible and making the remote employees left out.

The remote company relies on online activities to get to know and trust each other, which the office people can take a part of too. The office people in the meantime sit down for a beer only with other office people.

Those who claim remote work will stifle your progress as an employee, usually refer to this kind of hybrid company. And rightfully so, you will usually be at a political disadvantage to those working in the office.

In a remote company that takes remote seriously, and manage remote as an important part of the company, this is not an issue.

Separation by departments might work

If a company wants the benefits of remote work it has to truly commit it. Don’t leave anyone behind. One way around it that seems to work well enough though, is logical separation by departments.

For example - having all the R&D working remotely, and all the sales in office. This still works as it does not stifle the progress of someone within his department and unify the communication methods within each department.

There’s a lot more to be said on the topic and the implementation details. But I think this clears out most of the recent criticism for remote work I saw that is actually criticizing the hybrid model.