No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Bridging the Hybrid and Remote Work Divide

Hybrid and remote work discussions have turned into a bit of a holy war in recent months with one side arguing for a return to the office, and the other arguing against. Recently, Microsoft executive Lucy Cooper went so far as to argue that employees need to actively fight back against return to office efforts. No Jitter publisher Eric Krapf recently captured some of the recent anti-remote work sentiment here.


Some Drivers of Returning to the Office versus Remote Working

Metrigy’s own data, captured in our global Workplace Collaboration: 2023-24 study of 440 organizations found that just over half (52%) of participating companies are requiring some form of return to the office, with 25.2% bringing back employees on a full-time basis and 26.8% doing so part-time (typically about 2-3 days per week). Those who are returning to the office say the biggest drivers are an inability to perform jobs remotely, as well as the improved informal collaboration available when employees are physically together. Another top driver, often for younger workers, is their own preference to work in an office. For those early on in their careers, in-office work can provide a greater opportunity to develop mentoring and social relationships.

For those sticking with remote work, providing a better quality of life for employees is far and away the top driver. Quality of life benefits of remote work include flexible scheduling, eliminating long commutes, and improved productivity that may come from allowing employees to fit their work into their lifestyle.

At the end of the day, as our data points show, the cat has left the bag with respect to remote and hybrid work. The majority of knowledge workers will work from home at least part of the time, whether by their own accord or due to in-office requirements that only span a few days a week. So the challenge for IT and business leaders is how to ensure employee engagement, no matter the location. When we asked research participants to tell us their biggest challenge in supporting remote and hybrid work “loss of community and culture” was the number one response, even more so than network and application performance issues for remote employees.


Enhancing the Employee Experience

To improve the ability of remote and hybrid employees to engage with each other, as well as their in-office colleagues, workplace collaboration vendors are bringing a number of new apps to market. Examples include:

  • Roam: Roam provides a virtual office that allows team members to “sit” with colleagues, see who is available, and quickly initiate private or group chats or video meetings.
  • TeamFlowHQ: Teamflow is a sales-focused application designed to allow sales teams to come together in a virtual room to collaborate and coach one another on live calls in real-time. Its user interface allows sales team members to see who is available, in real-time, as well.
  • Zoom Huddles: Similar to Roam, Zoom Huddles allows remote and in-office employees to join up with one another for informal conversations that can easily escalate to a meeting.


Gathering In Virtual Spaces

Each of these applications provide a sort of virtual office that remote and in-office employees can access and thus replicate the informal collaboration experience of being in a physical office.

Beyond these examples, we find that:

  • 48% of companies are using social software including Jive, Microsoft Viva, and Workplace by Meta to establish a place where employees can go to join communities of interest, find out about company events and news, and to even engage socially with one another on non-work-related topics (e.g., sports, cooking, travel, etc.). These apps often allow employees to get to know one another socially, something that is extremely difficult when distributed individuals are only engaging on work-related topics.
  • 26.4% are using team building games such as virtual escape rooms, online trivia contests, and so on, also to provide opportunities for distributed employees to engage informally with each other.
  • 25% are deploying informal conversational apps including Bramble, CultureBot, Donut, and WaterCooler to encourage informal conversations. WaterCooler, for example, randomly connects two employees and encourages them to chat about something other than work for five minutes.

Virtual office and informal engagement apps won’t typically replace core workplace collaboration tools like email, messaging, and meetings, but they do enable organizations to support virtual engagement regardless of location and eliminate the barriers between those in the office and those working remotely. They also help in building the kinds of social connections that previously were generally only available among those in the office who had the opportunity to eat together or go out after work.

Consider adding virtual office and information engagement apps to your environment to ensure that individuals and teams can engage with one another, and get to know one another, regardless of whether they are full-time in the office, remote, or hybrid.

ABOUT METRIGY: Metrigy is an innovative research firm focusing on the rapidly changing areas of Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC), digital workplace, digital transformation, and Customer Experience (CX)/contact center—along with several related technologies. Metrigy delivers strategic guidance and informative content, backed by primary research metrics and analysis, for technology providers and enterprise organizations