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Torn between remote work and hybrid for my business

As a rule of thumb, I’ve been trying to build MergeYourData.com’s policies around things I did and didn’t like while having corporate jobs

As the MergeYourData.com team has grown, an issue keeps popping up in my mind. One that’s a hot topic for today’s work world. Hybrid vs. 100% remote. I can’t decide what to do going forward. Currently we’re hybrid with two days in-office and 3 days remote.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve been trying to build MergeYourData.com’s policies around things I did and didn’t like while having corporate jobs. Trying to balance my experiences with the understanding that everyone has different preferences has been a challenge. Knowing that everyone thrives in different conditions has made this an even more difficult task. Somewhere I need to be able to strike a balance between the productivity of the team as a whole and the individual preferences of team members (myself included).

What we currently offer based on my past experiences

30 hour work week for full-time employees

Butts-in-seats is not fruitful. Pushing past 6 hours per day typically causes more mistakes than the net gain of those extra hours.

That’s why we cap employees at 30 hours per week.

A day is when you start and when you finish, everything in-between is up to you

Most of my creative solutions to difficult problems come in “down” times. Riding a bike, going on a walk or run, standing in the shower… you get the point. From my conversations with others this is a common occurrence.

So during the work day, why would you only count hours where you’re sitting in front of a computer or in your chair as “work hours”, while not counting lunch, breaks, walks, etc.?

My expectation is that people can show up to work, turn on their work brain and then turn it off when they leave for the day. Everything in between is most likely going to include work thoughts or improving productivity by taking a break.

So 6 hours is 6 hours. That’s 9am-3pm every day (or 11am-5pm if that’s your cup of tea). It’s about consistency and focus, not gathering the most hours you can in a day for work.

Paid and Unpaid Sabbaticals

Taking an extended break from work every few years does wonders for creativity and passion. Being able to unwind and clear your head from work responsibilities make you even better when you come back from your break.

We’ve built in sabbaticals starting with the 3rd year you work for the company. Then every two years after that.

Asynchronous communication only

Having constant notifications and interruptions is disruptive. There’s a time for collaboration and a time for individual focus. By not using instant messaging tools, this preserves focus and intentionality.

Need to reach someone immediately? Call them. Otherwise an email, scheduled meeting, or @ in Coda is all that’s needed.

Coda.io is our documentation, planning and collaboration tool. It’s the bomb.

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My List of Pros and Cons for Remote and Hybrid

Pros of Remote Work

As an employee, remote work is the most convenient work-style. Being able to skip a commute, take breaks without the concern of being viewed as a “slacker”, and having less (uncontrollable) distractions throughout the day.

Deep and focused work is easier to achieve. Office politics is kept to a minimum. Flexibility for those with families or other circumstances are easier to handle on a personal level.

Health and wellness is a big one too. At home it can be easier to choose to take a walk around your neighborhood and eat a homemade lunch. Or take a 15 minute nap. Or meditate between meetings. The list goes on and on.

From a company perspective, remote work saves on office lease costs and encourages extensive documentation of everything.

Cons of Remote Work

Controllable distractions (aka temptations) can be a serious detractor. For nearly all people, the lack of physical human interaction with those you work with for hours every weekday takes a toll after a couple years. Yes, even for introverted people this causes problems.

Depending on your remote setup, the lack of separation between work and home can be distressing. Productivity can drop because there aren’t easy cues for when it’s work time and when it’s not work time.

Meeting up with colleagues become an extra “unpaid” activity associated with work. If you don’t participate in these socializations, you can find yourself on the outside of those who met in person. Plus, traveling to any in-person work meetings is time away from family and an extra hassle.

From a company perspective, the logistics of bringing people together for any in-person even once or twice per year can be complicated.

Pros of Hybrid Work

Having a balance between in-person and remote work achieves both collaboration and dedicated focus time.

Collaborative planning in-person provides much better results than remote planning. This has remained true for the 8 years I’ve been involved in remote planning meetings.

Synchronizing for ad-hoc communication is much easier when you’re in the same office together. Building personal relationships is much more effective in-person and creates a better virtual relationship when working remote.

Many of the Pros of Remote Work also apply to hybrid, but only 60% of the week.

Cons of Hybrid Work

Commuting is not fun, and ultimately are extra hours you have to spend that aren’t beneficial for your life.

Needing to be in-person a couple days per week limits the ability to work remote in other parts of the state you’re employed in. It ultimately ties you to a location.

Some days in the office just aren’t more beneficial than working from home. Sometimes there is immense value being in-person, and other days it’s no different than being remote.

From a company perspective, the talent pool is limited when in-office is required in specific locations. There’s also double the equipment to purchase per headcount when it comes to monitors, desks, etc.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been bouncing back and forth about how to run MergeYourData.com going forward. A few times I’ve been 100% sure of which way I wanted to go but ended up feeling 80% after having conversations with others.

The one thing I know is that switch from 100% remote back to hybrid is not a possibility. As an employee, if I started a job as remote and then was expected to start going into an office a few months into the job, I’d be upset. That would feel like a bait and switch.

Any recommendations from business owners, leaders, and employees who have experienced both styles of work would be greatly appreciated.


So, what do you think?

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