No one could have predicted the massive strain the global pandemic would put on workplaces around the globe. In a matter of months, millions of employees were either terminated from their position or furloughed until further notice, tens of millions of workers were forced to transition to remote work and others were deemed essential workers who faced the uncertainties of working through a global pandemic.

The good news is that according to our 2021 Workmonitor report, 78% of the global workforce is ready to head back to the workplace. Furthermore, 7 out of 10 workers surveyed believe that their employers supported them during the pandemic. 

Nonetheless, workers are still anxious about what the future of work will look like. This anxiety among workers can lead to lower job satisfaction, decreased productivity and increased burnout.

A recent global study shows that employers can reduce this type of anxiety with clear communication. But of the employees surveyed, 40% state that their employer has not communicated a clear vision for the post-pandemic workplace. One reason for this lack of communication is that some employers are still unsure about what work model they want to adopt.

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40% of employees state that their employer has not communicated what the post-pandemic workplace will look like.

McKinsey & Company

In this article, we'll take a look at the different work models to help you plan for a post-pandemic workplace and determine which of these models will work best for your business.

what are work models?

In basic terms, a work model depicts how a business functions on a day-to-day basis and details working arrangements for the workforce. It’s not uncommon for companies to have different work models for various departments. For example, a company may have a remote work model for its sales team yet maintain an onsite work model for its HR department.

For decades, the standard work model was a five-day workweek where most employees worked onsite. However, the advancement of technology allowed many employees to work from home even before the pandemic. In fact, a 2019 study revealed 40% of US-based companies offered at least some types of remote work options and experts predicted that at least half of the UK workers were set to start working remotely even before the pandemic hit.

3 main work models 

While the evolution of remote work was slowly gaining momentum, the global pandemic forced even reluctant companies to make remote work a reality. Now, with the effects of COVID-19 starting to subside, many companies around the globe are faced with three viable work models, including:

1.  onsite work model


A complete onsite work model is one in which all employees work at their designated workplace every workday. However, remote work may be possible in extreme cases, such as a sick child or poor weather conditions. Despite this limited level of flexibility, the majority of the worker’s duties must be completed onsite.

Typically, these workers are expected to be at work during specific hours set by the employers. Some companies today, however, are offering greater flexibility with hours by offering options, such as part-time work and compressed shifts.


There are numerous benefits for following an onsite work model, such as:

  • real-time communication:

While communication technology has made great strides in recent years, it’s still hard to replace face-to-face contact. Although 86% of professionals prefer contacting clients via email, studies show that face-to-face communication is 34 times more effective. It also allows for instant decision-making, which can improve productivity.

  • improved collaboration

Even with the best virtual meeting software, collaboration can be difficult when not done in person. Studies suggest that 93% of effective communication involves non-verbal cues. These cues can be easily overlooked during virtual meetings. Additionally, having your team together at one location allows for instant brainstorming of ideas, immediate resolution of problems and real-time approvals.

  • higher level of online security

Onsite work models also ensure a higher level of online security. Since all employees will be using the same server, the company can control the security of all data. This factor is particularly important for businesses that store highly sensitive data, such as a health insurance company that stores confidential medical records of their clients.


There are also several disadvantages to maintaining a complete onsite workforce, such as:

  • smaller job pool

When using only an onsite work model, your company is limited to hiring employees who live in, or are willing to move to, your area. If your company is headquartered in a large city, this factor may not be an issue. However, for a company located in a rural area, onsite work only may significantly limit its talent pool and its potential to build a diverse workforce.

  • growing safety concerns:

While the effects of COVID-19 are starting to subside, workers are still anxious about coming back to the workplace on a full-time basis. In fact, studies show that more than one in two workers are concerned about COVID exposure in the workplace. To entice these workers back to the workplace, employers must invest in increased security measures, such as mandatory sick days, COVID-19 testing and protective gear for employees, such as gloves and face masks.

  • reluctant workers

Many workers, especially those who were forced into remote work during the pandemic, are reluctant to head back into the workplace, at least on a full-time basis. The reality is that many workers liked the flexibility of remote work and how it enabled them to maintain a better work-life balance. A recent study even revealed that more than one in four employees surveyed would consider changing jobs if they were forced to go back to an onsite work model full-time.

when is the onsite work model the right option?

Many businesses don’t have an option but to maintain an onsite work model. In fact, for some companies, the very nature of work prohibits them from even considering remote work. For example, hospitals require both doctors and nurses to work onsite, full-time; construction companies need their laborers on the job site every day; and manufacturers require their laborers and machine operators to remain on the plant floor.

New businesses as well as those entering into a growth stage may require the higher level of collaboration that an onsite work model offers. It’s important for employers to evaluate their needs and objectives and determine what, if any, duties can be handled remotely or if an onsite work model is required.  

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onsite vs. remote vs. hybrid

2.  remote work model


A true remote work model is one in which all employees work from a remote location. Typically, there is no primary workplace or office, but some companies do have a location they use for employee training and meetups.

In most cases, workers have the option of working from any location, including their home, local coffee shop, shared workspace or on-the-go. However, some businesses require their remote employees to work from a designated location, such as a home office.

As employers and employees prepare for a post-pandemic workplace, many are split on the effectiveness of continuing full-time remote work. It’s vital for these businesses to explore the pros and cons of this type of work model when deciding which options are right for them.


Advantages of using a remote work model include:

  • global talent pool

Companies that invest in a complete remote work model can hire employees from anywhere in the world. This factor is especially beneficial for employers who are struggling to attract and retain qualified workers and can enable companies to build a diverse workforce.

  • improved work-life balance

Some companies that maintain a remote work model still require their employees to be on the clock during a specific timeframe. For example, a remote customer service agent typically needs to be available at certain times. Other employers, however, offer their remote workers greater flexibility as long as they are available for scheduled meetings and maintain prompt communication.

This is good news for workers as well as employers. According to our 2021 Employer Brand Research report, 1 in 4 workers consider flexibility in the workplace to be an ideal work arrangement. This factor can help give employers a competitive edge when it comes to recruiting top talent.

  • no commute times

One of the best benefits for employees working from home is no commute time, which can help them save both time and money. No commute time can also benefit the employer by reducing unexpected absences, tardiness and closings due to poor weather conditions.


disadvantages of using this type of work model include:

  • greater security risks

When managing a remote workforce, the security of your online data could be at greater risk. Since remote workers can work from any location, including local coffee shops and hotel rooms, it’s safe to assume that they might not always connect to a secure network. Without the right security measures, this could put your company in jeopardy of a data breach.

  • home distractions

When COVID-19 hit, many workers were forced to create a makeshift office at home with little time and resources. However, companies that are considering a permanent remote work model must encourage workers to develop a dedicated workspace both at home and on the go. According to our Randstad Workmonitor study, 14% of remote employees believe that the distractions inherent in remote work affect their productivity.

  • company culture

36% of executives believe that remote work has damaged the company culture. The best way employers can combat this issue is to invest in a strong communication platform that enables them to stay connected with their remote workers. Next to this, employers need to take proactive measures to foster connections and preserve their company culture.

3. hybrid work model


when is the remote work model the right option?

According to a recent study, only 16% of all businesses across the globe maintain a full remote work model. The reason for this small number is that creating a full remote work model is not ideal for most companies.

However, if the nature of work for your employees can be completed remotely and your company has built a strong communication platform for collaboration, this type of work model could enable your company to remain competitive and to be prepared for an uncertain post-pandemic workplace.

The good news is that employers don’t have to commit to a full onsite or remote work model. They can have the best of both worlds by implementing a hybrid work model. As the name suggests, this type of work schedule involves some onsite work as well as some remote work.

Hybrid work models work in one of two ways. The first type of hybrid work model allows employees to work some days remotely while coming into the workplace on alternative days. For example, a hybrid employee may work two days from home and three days at the office.

The second hybrid model allows some employees to work remotely, while other workers must continue working onsite. This is a common option for companies where only some duties can be completed remotely. For example, a nonprofit agency may require caseworkers to continue working on site so they can meet with clients, whereas the financial or marketing teams can work from home.


There are several benefits of a hybrid work model, such as:

  • increased productivity

A recent study showed that 34% of employers surveyed saw an increase in productivity when employees worked from home. The option to work from home for at least part of the workweek gives employees the ability to work remotely with limited distractions while still having time to collaborate with their teams when working onsite.

  • improved job satisfaction

Our research shows that employees want a job that allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Further research shows that a majority of workers perceive a hybrid workplace as the ideal work model. Offering a hybrid work model can significantly improve job satisfaction among your workers, which in turn can increase productivity, decrease turnover and enhance workplace morale.

  • attract quality talent

Maintaining a hybrid work model can expand your talent pool to workers who may be willing to handle a longer commute if they only need to go to the office a few days a week. The option for remote work can also help your company attract top talent candidates who are looking for greater flexibility in the workplace.


While the benefits are great, there are still a few disadvantages to the hybrid model, including:

  • communication gap

One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid model is ensuring everyone is on the same page. With some employees working remotely and others onsite, it can be difficult to make sure communication flows smoothly between all workers. In fact, remote workers can start to feel isolated if they are not kept up-to-date on all work-related matters.

  • digital burnout

In a recent study conducted by Monster, 69% of remote workers were struggling with burnout. Even before the pandemic hit, many workers were spending upwards of 7 hours a day online. While this type of burnout can happen at the office too, the main source of a remote worker’s duties is online. Add in the number of virtual meetings and team collaboration sessions remote workers handle daily, and it’s easy to see how quickly burnout can set in.

  • new workplace design

Unless your company maintained a hybrid work model prior to the pandemic, your company may need to rethink the way of work. Creating a permanent hybrid model will not happen overnight. Your team will not only have to reevaluate job duties and work schedules, but you may also need to redesign the physical workplace. With fewer workers onsite every day, you might need to restructure office space and develop more areas for collaboration and meetups.

when is the hybrid work model the right option?

An in-depth analysis of 800 different jobs conducted by McKinsey Global revealed that 20% of the workforce could effectively work from home at least three days a week. Our research also revealed that 54% of global employers allow their employees to work remotely for at least some days. Additional research shows that more than 1 and 3 workers around the world want to maintain a hybrid work schedule.

With these statistics in mind, employers must closely examine all work duties and job roles to determine which jobs can be completed remotely and which tasks they prefer workers to handle onsite. 

Learn more about the three main work models by downloading our detailed infographic today.

about the author

sofie maervoet

vp global concepts staffing

Sofie is one of the staffing leaders in Randstad with a track record in process optimization, training and coaching. She started her career as a staffing consultant in Randstad Belgium in 2002. Later, she joined the team in Randstad Switzerland as concept manager until she joined the global concept development team in 2018.

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