Remote vs. In-Office: The Conflict Between Businesses and Workers and Where It’s Headed

Businesses worldwide have struggled to make sense of the remote vs. onsite work debate. The last two years saw a rise in remote working, with numerous offices closed for months if not years. While businesses are almost back to usual now, some employees still prefer to work remotely, while others insist on working onsite.

This conflict between remote and onsite workers is a tricky one. It gets murkier when you consider the employers’ point of view. Tensions can be high between all these groups as each tries to manage the work in the best way possible. Businesses are trying to focus on collaboration, schedule management, and commuter perks to smooth over these conflicts, but some issues haven’t been resolved. So, let’s explore in detail the remote vs. in-office conflict.

Conflicts Between Businesses and Workers over Remote vs. On-Site

Here are some of the conflicts that businesses are finding themselves currently:

1. Work-Life Balance

While some remote workers have established productive and flexible routines that give them time both for professional and personal tasks, others haven’t been able to do so. The danger of remote work is that it can blur the lines between work hours and free time. Many remote workers may feel like their company is taking advantage of this irregularity.

Businesses that haven’t set down proper schedules for remote workers will find that there is an immense conflict between themselves and the two sets of workers. Remote workers may be irked by their on-site counterparts’ clean schedule, while on-site workers might find they don’t find enough time to spend at home or with family. This inconsistency can cause workers from either side to leave their jobs in search of one a better work-life balance.

2. Fair Pay

On-site workers may have issues with remote employees being paid the same wages as them, considering they don’t have to commute to work. Businesses also struggle here because creating a policy that pleases everyone can be tricky. If they promise additional benefits to on-site workers, their remote employers will raise an outcry, and if they continue in the same vein, on-site workers might get up and quit.

3. Exclusion from the Team

Exclusion conflict affects all three parties, i.e., remote workers, on-site workers, and the organization itself. Remote workers might feel excluded from important decision-making because they may not be able to attend spontaneous meetings or other crucial events.

On the other hand, on-site workers may feel frustrated because collaborating with remote workers online can become tiring after a while. They might feel that work gets done quicker when everyone is at the office and contributing to the meeting together. When it comes to team dynamics, both remote and on-site workers can feel disconnected from one another. This can affect the overall productivity and morale of the team.

Managers can find themselves in the middle of this conflict because there can be delays in decision-making. Moreover, communication breakdowns like these can ruin team dynamics, meaning managers must do much more to get remote and on-site workers to collaborate.

4. Time Zones

If a company has remote workers in different cities or countries, the difference in time could lead to conflict. On-site workers might have to delay their tasks until their remote teammates can work on them according to their time zone. Similarly, remote workers who have to wait for office hours for on-site workers will feel frustrated by the difference. This is tricky for a business to navigate because it would require one of two options, i.e., asking remote workers to change their timings to suit on-site workers or vice versa. Either way, one group of employees will feel resentful and alienated.

5. Where All This is Headed

According to a Forbes report, the most productive workers were neither remote nor on-site, rather, hybrid employees produced the best results and performed best. However, remote workers were found to be more effective than both hybrid and on-site employees. This could be due to remote workers working past their scheduled time and finishing tasks deep into the night.

Corporate work has been permanently transformed, and there is a low chance of things returning to the way they were. Rather, there may be an increase in hybrid workers or a hybrid structure, where some employees work from the office, and others stay remote. It’s up to the organization to create balance and address each group’s concerns.

Possible Ways to Resolve Conflicts

While remote vs. in-office seems like a tightrope situation, there are several actions that companies can take to resolve these conflicts:

  • Offer additional stipends to on-site workers to compensate for their commute and taxes instead of reducing remote workers’ base salary.
  • Create a schedule that shows cut-off hours for remote workers and ensure that all managers and supervisors follow this. Alternatively, and/or additionally, offer overtime pay to remote workers who have to stretch their hours.
  • Offer moving services to help workers better resolve their work life conflicts. Particularly in large cities, a offering a service like NYC Movers can be a greatly benefit workers who need this option.
  • Organize weekly or bi-monthly check-ins to ensure that remote and on-site workers are communicating in a sociable way. This will increase collaboration and create a sense of mutual trust. Ensure on-site workers loop in remote employees during spontaneous meetings or discussions.
  • Create a flexible time-zone policy if you have workers across countries or cities. Organize meetings where teams can discuss important tasks all together so they can continue working on them on their own time.

Wrapping Up – Retain your Top Talent

The current workforce model confuses most organizations because employees struggle to adapt to on-site and remote work. Businesses should make it easier for workers to be productive and create schedules regardless of whether employees work in the office space or from their homes.

Mediating these issues will ensure that you increase your employee retention rate and don’t lose your top performers. As the Forbes report pointed out, these could very well be remote workers who’re putting in the hours but feeling alienated or isolated. Discuss options with your HR team and create a flexible policy that strikes a balance for both groups.

Remote vs. In-Office: The Conflict Between Businesses and Workers and Where It’s Headed was last updated January 14th, 2024 by Hamza Razzaq