White paper: Remote and hybrid working

Remote and hybrid working: yesterday’s emergency solution becomes today’s business model

A radical shift in habits

The concept of “remote work” can be traced back to California in the 1970s. Certainly, however, the three years of the Covid-19 pandemic have represented a watershed moment. Indeed, businesses had to quickly adapt to widespread lockdowns, leading to seismic shifts, scaling up and transformation of their ways of working. Now, in 2022, we have a new understanding of the workplace; one that offers multiple benefits for both businesses and employees.


A 2022 OECD survey done in 25 countries demonstrates that about 63% of managers and 74% of workers had an overall positive assessment of their teleworking experience during COVID-19, and most of them would like to continue working remotely in the future.

Grafton consultants around the world are seeing that many organisations have switched, and are switching, to  adopt a remote and hybrid work structure. Employee safety became a paramount issue during the pandemic, and occurred at a time when businesses were able to digitalise many tasks in hand facilitated by IT infrastructure. Some industries and related work cultures even enjoyed superior flexibility for remote situations (such as Spotify’s “Work from Anywhere” policy which permitted the employees the choice of on-site, hybrid or fully remote within a defined region).

This transformation has been particularly relevant for key industries which have undergone radical change, including retail/e-commerce, creative, IT, business services, media, telemedicine and education. There has also been a great shift in roles where various front and back office roles lend themselves to greater flexibility such as admin, client support, sales, IT, finance and accounting, recruitment, and HR & development.

Clearly there were also a number of companies not capable of adopting this new work mode such as those operative in production-based industries. But even in that scenario many Grafton clients are seeing a partial return to the office (perhaps 2 or 3 days per week) and at times even a major rethink of what office space looks like (for example, smaller offices).

So the question begs: why is it so vital for companies to explore remote and/or hybrid working situations in order to secure top talent? And what are the benefits for the employee?


A new normal

To coin a phrase much used in the last during the Pandemic,  what is our new-normal and how does it work? According to a 2022 KMPG study, 89% of companies have already introduced a remote working policy or are currently considering one. This same study analyses five types of remote working:

1. Domestic remote working: this is often achieved in the form of a hybrid approach with at least some time spent physically on-site.


2. Cross-border remote working
(< 90 days): a type of set-up that typically occurs when an employee is abroad for vacation or visiting family, and it permits them to add some extra days to that visit whilst being operative for their employer.


3. Virtual assignments: an employees fills a position or runs a project in another country without ever actually physically relocating to that site (perhaps due to it being an unattractive site location, or due to family reasons).


4. Hiring talent in another country: particularly relevant for Digital Nomads who typically come into this category, and are often used by companies who cannot find the required talent locally and are unable to encourage appropriate talent to relocate.


5. Temporary, cross-border remote work (> 90 days): undoubtedly the least exploited category, tending to be on an individual basis rather than a general company policy (often due to tax issues and the risk of creating a permanent establishment).

candidateś perspective

The argument for remote working: an employer’s perspective 


Indeed, there are four major benefits to be reaped by companies adopting such employment conditions. These are:


1.Larger talent pool and increased efficiencies:  offering remote not only makes jobs more attractive geo-agnostic workers, but by applying remote recruitment practices, it speeds up the process of identifying and vetting candidates.
2.Increased productivity and employee satisfaction leading to better retention: a recent OECD survey conducted across 25 countries cites that higher levels of voluntary teleworking could also benefit productivity, provided they do not exceed 2-3 days per week. And, according to Forbes, 54% of employees said they would change jobs if they found a job that offered better flexibility.
3.Cost savings: in terms of office footprint and operational expenses

Making an attractive remote working offer for top talent

At Grafton, our experts have experience in working closely with clients to help pinpoint the elements are needed to ensure a company is ready to offer a best-in-class flexible work environment, including the likes of:

Offering the right tools & conditions: the very basics are always essential. Be sure to offer quality equipment including laptops, two monitors, printer/mobile, internet service support including routers. Even helping set up a right “home office” is a benefit, including reimbursement for chairs, the right desks, lunch boxed orders, and even helping employees cover electricity bills.
Empowering managers: investing in training management to be aware of how to manage remote/virtual teams. In fact, remote work requires very good planning, communication and people management skills, particularly during a “set up” phase.
•Integration: Taking care of team bonding and synergies by organizing team events and celebration of successes. If not well managed, new team members may have difficulties to adapt to the company’s culture.
Flexibility:  Not only in the sense of working part time or without strict work hours, but also by allowing employees to experiment in working with new projects (even internationally), experts and other assignments that can help foster innovation.