How to balance remote and office work: experience Compare

Hello! My name is Alexander Potapov, I am the HR Director at Sravni. I would like to share our experience of transitioning to a hybrid employment format, including how we sought a balance between remote and office work and how we reformatted the recruitment and onboarding processes.

Transition to a hybrid format

When covid began, all employees were transferred to remote work. This format turned out to be new for many: before the pandemic, only some developers worked for us remotely, while most of the employees went to the office. So, like for many other companies, the transition to remote work turned out to be a kind of forced experiment.

Despite the fact that the first six months everything worked fine, then problems with productivity and communication began. As a result, we switched to a hybrid employment format: engineers were left remotely, and team managers, product managers, sales managers and other employees whose duties include active communication were obliged to go to the office at least twice a week.

As a result, after switching to a hybrid format, we managed to return to the pre-docian level in terms of delivery speed, task closing efficiency, and interaction within teams and between departments also improved. But to achieve this, I had to go through a lot of trial and error.

How to balance remote and office work: our experience

Now I’ll tell you a little more about how we came to our current format.

As I have already mentioned, the completely remote format of work has shown its shortcomings over time. Delivery speeds have dropped, tasks have taken longer to complete, employees have many unnecessary meetings, and overall productivity has declined.

In addition, some people returned to the office (mainly sales, top management). And they began to notice that the office is much better with communication and all issues are generally resolved faster. For remote employees, the calendar may be full of meetings, but there is little real communication.

What are the reasons for this gradual decrease in efficiency? I think the long social isolation played a role here, as well as the fact that many employees found it more difficult to organize themselves at home. Especially if there is a family, children and there is no way to retire. AT article The New York Times, a senior Eventbrite executive shares a similar experience: While techs and developers are very comfortable working remotely, working remotely is more difficult for sales and support staff.

Generally, according to research Gallup, which was attended by 140 thousand office workers from the United States, about a third of all respondents prefer to work completely remotely, and the vast majority (59%) would like to be able to combine office and remote work. In particular, they cite such advantages of the hybrid format as less travel time, the ability to build a more flexible work schedule and at the same time meet with colleagues in person.

Doc-shaped, current and preferred employment formats.  Source: Gallup
Doc-shaped, current and preferred employment formats. Source: Gallup

Through experience, we have learned that although remote work has many advantages, for certain groups of employees, regular visits to the office are still desirable, otherwise efficiency will suffer. At the same time, we left the opportunity to sometimes work from home. Also, along with the return of part of the employees to the office, we began to hold more various events, training seminars to give them an additional incentive.

Part of the office space has been converted into a coworking space where you can book seats before visiting the office. Of course, those who go regularly still have permanent places, and for hybrid employees and teams, coworking has gone great.

For example, some teams go to the office once a month for a week, in some teams only one employee goes out regularly. In general, it all depends on the specific team.

I’ll make a reservation right away that I can’t unequivocally recommend certain practices, since each company will have its own specifics. But I will share what conclusions we came to in Sravni.

  • The remote format does not work well for positions that involve process management and a lot of communication. For example, we continue to hire engineers and developers remotely (of course, those who want to go to the office come), but for team leaders, product managers, and sales specialists, regular visits to the office are provided.

  • Working from home is a separate skill that not everyone has. Therefore, before transferring a new employee to a hybrid format, we ask him or her to come to the office for some time to assess independence and organization.

  • For remote employees, it is useful to hold team building events from time to time, if possible. For example, we recently rented a house in Istra for our remote employees, where they worked and rested together. Judging by the feedback, it was a very positive experience, both in terms of communication and workflow, which turned out to be surprisingly productive.

As a result, before the pandemic, about 10% of our employees worked remotely. Now this ratio looks something like this: office – 20%, hybrid – 30%, remote – 50%.

Hiring and onboarding: what has changed

Even before the pandemic, we conducted part of the interview online, but getting to know the team always took place in the office. With the onset of isolation, it became more difficult, all hiring moved online. Therefore, at the interview stage, we tried to talk more on non-technical topics – that is, what a person does outside of work, what are his hobbies, and so on.

Onboarding also had to be rebuilt, moved online. In particular, they began to prepare more information for the exit of an employee and exchange feedback more often, added a new series of meetings during a trial period, and also introduced new productivity metrics.

Also, all the teams were engaged in digitizing and posting their knowledge base in Confluence. Previously, this was not so important, since a new employee could always contact colleagues directly, but at a distance, quick access to information becomes especially important.

We have also redesigned our checklists for remote employees for a trial period, that is, a list of tasks and cases that a new employee must complete in order to adapt as soon as possible and move from “newbie” status to “non-newbie” status. Each team or position has its own checklist that reflects their specifics, although some parts may overlap.

Also, each newcomer has a curator, or mentor, who answers questions and helps to adapt. In some teams, this role is filled by the line manager, in service teams it can also be the functional manager.


That’s all, I’ll be glad to answer questions or comments. If anyone wants to share their experience of moving to a remote/hybrid format, it would be interesting to read.

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