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Remote and hybrid working: Inputs or outputs?

We are all so used to the advantages that remote and hybrid forms of working can give us. Research has shown that employees can feel they have a better work/life balance which then leads to enhanced home and family life. But there are also downsides to remote and hybrid working for both employees and employers - how can these be overcome and the interests of both parties looked after?

Upsides to remote and hybrid working

Working from home remotely or hybrid working can leave individuals with more time available to be around children and loved ones, more time to exercise or to devote to their own interests and hobbies because less time (and money) is spent commuting. Family and personal relationships can benefit and individuals have reported feeling more connected to their home as a result of remote or hybrid working.

Downsides to remote and hybrid working

Of course, there are downsides to remote and hybrid working too. Some of us, depending on our home circumstances, can feel isolated and disconnected from work colleagues and miss the social aspect of the workplace. Others talk about being unable to switch off from working and therefore work spills over into home life. There is no longer a barrier between work and home when home becomes where your work is.

Does remote or hybrid working work for employers?

Many employers are strongly urging staff to return to the office and are defining policies around remote working because, without a doubt, from an organisational perspective, disadvantages do exist in remote working. These are mostly discussed in relation to impacts on productivity and performance. These disadvantages may not be initially obvious to the employee, but organisations are recognising some effects of a largely remote or hybrid workforce.

Finding a solution that works for all

Whilst overall productivity, which is measurable, may or may not be directly impacted, there may be other effects that are more intangible but still affect productivity. These include impacts on team cohesion; relationship building; sharing of knowledge; learning and development; and onboarding of new staff, to name a few. Hybrid working feels like a sensible solution for both parties but for employers, it may be difficult to encourage staff back into the office and to see remote working from a different perspective.

Remote and hybrid working: Input vs. output

One way to engage staff in the discussion may be to recognise the difference between inputs and outputs and to discuss collectively the relationship of these to new working practices.


A discussion about inputs focuses on hours/days worked, location, number of meetings, etc. Employee productivity tracking software has emerged alongside remote working which aims to link an employee's work to their productivity.


An outputs approach on the other hand discusses work in relation to goals and objectives and jobs/projects completed, or in terms of quality of outputs on say customer satisfaction or engagement.

Placing importance in output

By shifting the perspective, we shift the focus of how we assess the benefits of remote or hybrid working. Assessing the appropriateness of remote work solely by inputs suggests a throwback to Taylorism and the ‘time and motion’ concept. An inputs focus asks questions like how many hours is the individual working? How do I know they are working if they are not visible to me? Presence in the office may give managers satisfaction that the employee is delivering on what they are contracted to do but output measures should always be the focus.

How can you change the conversation around remote and hybrid working?

Where does the difficulty lie in moving from inputs to outputs focus? I suggest trust and

empowerment are at the heart of this shift. Managers who trust staff to get on with the job without

knowing where they are or how many hours they spend working are more likely to have a workforce

that feels empowered. Staff who are trusted to work where, when and for as long or as little as is

required to get the job done are more likely to show commitment and deliver. The truth will out quite

quickly for those who don’t. Take a look at this interesting example of a young CEO recognising

the difference between inputs and outputs.

I'd love to hear about your experiences of remote or hybrid working - please do get in touch or comment below!


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