Get All Access for $5/mo

Remote, Office or Hybrid? How To Ensure Your Decision Is Right for the Long Term Every business is different -- you have to find the middle ground that works best for you.

By Stu Sjouwerman Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Although many companies were exploring remote work long before Covid-19 hit, the pandemic threw roughly 200 years of office tradition right out the window. Suddenly, everybody had to make remote work possible. As we all start to recover, the big question is, what do we do now? Go back to everybody being on-site? Go full force into remote? Meet somewhere in the middle? As a leader, you have to make a choice, and it has to benefit your company for the long haul.

There are pros and cons to going remote

From a productivity standpoint, people often do better at home because there are fewer interruptions. Also, time that would be spent commuting can now go toward work. On the other hand, there really is a synergy that happens when people are in the same room. People often get their best work done through innovation and problem-solving in teams. You can lose that sense of togetherness while working at home, and being isolated can increase your risk of burnout.

Related: How To Keep Your Employees Engaged and Secure When They're Working From Home

Your middle ground is uniquely yours

If you acknowledge both the upsides and downsides to remote work, the ultimate answer is that there is no "right" answer. It just depends on the circumstances specific to your organization. For example, some businesses have been remote for years already. If you're in that position, then you've probably already got a company culture in place to support that approach. Another example could be a business where employees need to be undisturbed for most of their production time. In that case, too, remote work makes a lot of sense.

Is staying completely remote a productive long-term solution? Maybe for some parts of your company, but probably not for all. For most businesses, moving forward will likely mean finding a middle ground that balances preference with functionality.

If you decide on a hybrid solution, one of the biggest advantages is this: Even as you get time to work undisturbed, you don't lose the chance to talk to your peeps. There's water cooler time and a high level of mutual team spirit. That's great protection against having people poached away into other businesses that can offer more cash, because remember, people don't leave just for money. They are more likely to leave if they have a bad manager or toxic environment.

Just be flexible. Your setup might not look anything like what you see somewhere else, because you have to accommodate the unique here-and-now needs of your own organization. Within that, give every sector head autonomy about how their team works best, even if that means every department is different. Leave the door open for people to change their situation later, too.

Stay aware of the communication bandwidth hierarchy

No matter what your setup might be, good communication is going to make a difference in how successful you are. Be aware that there's a hierarchy here. Communicating through email is like communicating through a straw. Your bandwidth is really limited and it's easy to misunderstand. The next level up is phone communication — you can tell a lot from someone's voice. Another level up is video conferencing because you can hear and see people physically. Nothing compares, though, to sitting in a room with someone and just talking.

The smaller the bandwidth, the less productive you usually are. Go as high as you can in the hierarchy. Prioritize in-person interaction if it's an option.

Related: Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Hybrid Workforce

With good communication, respect and flexibility, you can find the setup that fits best

There's really no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to whether people should work on-site, remotely, or hybrid. You have to look at what your own business is facing. Most companies will probably benefit from a customized mix of on-site and remote work. To be the most effective in that space, just stay as flexible as you can and be mindful of how you choose to communicate. If you do that while respecting the autonomy and preferences of others, you'll be in great shape.

Stu Sjouwerman

Founder and CEO, KnowBe4

Stu Sjouwerman (pronounced “shower-man”) is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, Inc., which offers a platform for security awareness training and simulated phishing.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.


Are Your Business's Local Listings Accurate and Up-to-Date? Here Are the Consequences You Could Face If Not.

Why accurate local listings are crucial for business success — and how to avoid the pitfalls of outdated information.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.