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The Battle Over In-Person Versus Remote Work Rages On: Five Strategies to Make Hybrid Work

The Battle Over In-Person Versus Remote Work Rages On: Five Strategies to Make Hybrid Work

July 2023


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One of the major issues confronting executives this year continues to be the battle over remote and hybrid work. 

It started with free lunches and childcare to entice employees back to the workplace. Now we’re seeing strict mandates from companies like Google, Disney, and JP Morgan Chase. Even Martha Stewart attacked remote work, saying America will ‘go down the drain’ if people don’t return to office.  

But the fact remains that much of the workforce is continuing to work remotely. According to Kastle Systems, office occupancy has fallen back below 50 percent in recent weeks in buildings across 10 major U.S. cities. Translation: hybrid work is here to stay.  

It’s easy to understand why. In the wake of the pandemic, employees saw that remote and hybrid work can be effective. Workers saw in real-time that teams can be productive and innovative in a remote environment. Moreover, many workers prefer it, and they’re not backing down. They prefer flexibility, avoiding long commutes, and saving money on transportation and dry cleaning. In fact, here at Stanton Chase, we’re seeing more and more executives including remote work terms in their contracts. 

But at the same time, employees see the benefits of in-person work. A recent national poll conducted by Ipsos for management consulting firm Eagle Hill found 82 percent of workers say team building is managed better in person, as is training (77 percent), kicking off a new project (73 percent), and brainstorming (62 percent). And interestingly, a large share of workers (60 percent) say those who work more in the office than remotely are more likely to be successful in their jobs.   

Given that remote and hybrid work has emerged as a viable and sustainable model for many organizations across multiple industries, it seems unlikely that executives will be able to put the genie back in the bottle. And strict and inflexible return to work mandates could backfire as the U.S. continues to face a tight labor market.  

And it’s worth noting that remote work offers companies advantages: talent acquisition, retention, cost savings, lower burnout, improvements in employee wellbeing to name a few. Of course, there are challenges with remote work: lack of face-to-face interaction, communication challenges, technology and infrastructure issues, and team cohesion.  

At Stanton Chase D.C., we are remote-first organization. Our employees work remotely most of the time. However, we have office space available for anyone who prefers or needs to work in the office. We also have regular in-person meetings with a purpose, collaboration, and socialization. Too often, we hear from workers who are angry they are required to be in the office, yet they sit in Zooms all day like they could have from home.   

We have found that the key to success with remote and hybrid work is twofold: offering flexibility and managing performance. Flexibility means trusting employees to make choices about when to come into the office. Performance management means providing clarity about what employees need to accomplish, monitoring their work together, and providing good feedback.   

Indeed, it requires learning and adaptation to get it right when it comes to remote work. Here are five strategies we have used that have resulted in successful remote work. 

The Stanton Chase D.C. Blueprint for Remote Work Success

  1. Provide Clear Communication and Expectations. Establishing clear lines of communication is essential for managing remote teams. Utilize various communication tools to foster regular interaction, such as video conferences, instant messaging, and project management software. Clearly define expectations regarding work hours, deliverables, and response times to ensure transparency and accountability. Our team has standing team meetings 3 days each week to ensure that everyone is in sync with what is happening on projects across the organization. While a weekly team meeting sufficed in the real world, having 3 scheduled team meetings helps ensure information flows. 
  1. Emphasize Trust and Autonomy. Remote work thrives on trust. Empower remote workers by providing them with autonomy to make decisions and complete tasks independently. Trust your employees to manage their time effectively and produce high-quality work. Micromanagement can hinder productivity and demotivate remote employees. 
  1. Foster Team Building: Create opportunities for virtual team building activities to foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. Schedule regular team meetings or informal virtual gatherings to facilitate social interactions and ensure clear information flow. Encourage cross-team collaborations and celebrate milestones and achievements to maintain a positive and cohesive remote work culture. We leverage quarterly in-person “huddles” to bring the team together to collaborate on projects, but also help build relationships.  
  1. Invest in Remote Work Infrastructure. Equip remote workers with the necessary tools and technology to perform their roles effectively. Provide secure remote access to company systems, cloud-based collaboration platforms, and necessary software. Regularly assess and address any technical challenges to ensure smooth workflow and efficient communication. We recognize that not all our staff are at the same technology level, so we also leverage those quarterly “huddles” to talk about technology and ensure we are sharing best practices across the team.  
  1. Prioritize Well-being and Mental Health. Recognize the unique challenges that remote work can pose to employee well-being. Encourage remote workers to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, take regular breaks, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Provide resources and support for mental health, such as access to counseling services or wellness programs. 

We believe that organizations that can successfully navigate the nuances of in-person and hybrid work will emerge as employers of choice, giving them a competitive advantage in their human capital strategy. 

About the Author

Charles Nailen is a Managing Director at Stanton Chase Washington, D.C., working with clients across the aerospace, technology, digital, and media sectors.  

He has a strong background in branding, marketing, and communications from his time serving Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Additionally, he has experience in technical and web systems management from his previous positions at Washington Post, Newsweek, and  

Charles holds a BS in Foreign Service and an MBA from Georgetown University. He is also an award-winning photographer who has worked with organizations like the Qatar Foundation, National Basketball Association, Media General Newspapers, Washington National Opera, and the Copenhagen Consensus. 

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