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The Challenges of Working Remotely in a Hybrid Office

by Lewis Morgan / January 19, 2024

One thing has been made clear about the future of work: hybrid work environments are here to stay and may become the norm for many organizations. Hybrid work attempts to balance working from the office with the flexibility of working from home. The mix of in-person and remote work can be exciting, as it can promote a better work-life balance and help reduce stress.

From my experience, working in a hybrid environment brings its own challenges. Those challenges often focus on the three C’s: communication, collaboration, and connections. These challenges are addressed below.


The biggest and most obvious challenge of the hybrid office is communication. Effective communication is the backbone of any successful work environment, and when people are working remotely, it becomes even more crucial. When you work in an office and have a question, you can walk ten feet to ask your co-worker. When working remotely, the absence of face-to-face interactions can lead to delays and misinterpretation. 

A smaller yet equally important challenge is how comfortable people are with communicating. Some may be more comfortable speaking up while participating on screens than others. What can be daunting for one person can be natural for another. The hybrid setting can cause some to communicate less than they would working in an office full time.

There are ways that a hybrid workplace can foster communication. Encouraging open communication channels with a casual feel can help new employees or reluctant talkers to communicate. Having an instant messaging system, like Slack, can promote communication continually throughout the workday. It is often better to over-communicate in a hybrid environment to ensure key points are received. 

Finally, training on effective virtual communication could be beneficial. Such training can encompass both technical and interpersonal skills. It involves teaching individuals how to use video conferencing tools effectively and also enhancing their ability to engage and convey information clearly in a virtual setting.

Through my personal experience when working remotely, there have been times when communication is difficult. I communicate more frequently in smaller team calls and through an instant messaging system. Larger remote calls can make me feel small and, as a result, make it harder for me to communicate. The lesson is to make sure there are multiple avenues of communication so that everyone feels comfortable engaging with each other.


Collaboration goes hand in hand with communication. Collaboration is a challenge in hybrid offices, especially since spontaneous communication by the water cooler has been replaced with virtual meetings. 

All collaborative work requires coordination, but a hybrid environment brings more challenges. Remote employees are sometimes left out of small exchanges and hallway discussions compared to those in the office. Plan for ways to collaborate that include all team members, such as brainstorming, planning sessions, and after-action feedback.

From my experience, regular meeting schedules hold hybrid offices together. For example, I participate in a weekly call reviewing work assignments and progress. The structure is helpful, but collaboration needs to go further. Regular check-ins with your supervisor are needed. During these check-ins, you can gain valuable feedback on your work and also ask for help. Smaller team calls are also helpful to discuss work issues. The point is that remote workers need a structure of meetings of various types to collaborate and feel connected when out of the office.


The most important challenge faced in the hybrid environment and any environment for that matter, is connection. 

The sense of connection to a team and organizational culture should remain a priority in hybrid workplaces. The goal is to strike a balance where employees feel equally connected and engaged regardless of location. Everyone needs to feel like a team, whether that is face-to-face or over a computer screen. That happens by making connections and building relationships with co-workers.

Not only professional connections but personal connections are essential for our own well-being and can be diminished when working in a hybrid environment. You may not see the same people in person as much when working in a hybrid setting, and taking the conversation online does not provide the same interpersonal feel. 

With the change to hybrid work, there is the risk of creating two groups of people. Those who feel like they’re central to the organization and strongly committed to it vs. those who feel like background characters and disconnected. This disconnection is not only from the work but also from the social life that creates meaning and bonds employees more closely to the organization. This can result in less happy and committed employees who are more likely to search for opportunities elsewhere.

Connection is essential and should be a top priority. Unhappy employees can easily create a domino effect of poor quality work, a negative work environment, and decreased productivity. Happy employees equal happy organizations.

The best opportunity I have found for maintaining connections is through informal communications. This can include team building exercises, employee lunches, and after-hours social events. These events can include both in-person and remote employees. It may take some planning to make sure all types of employees can attend, but it will be worth the effort.

Additionally, there are a host of online activities that can build teamwork and connections. Such activities include games, escape-the-room exercises, and themed online happy hours. I have seen online applications where you can create a meeting venue and have different events going on in different rooms. For example, rooms with games like checkers or chess, rooms playing different types of music, or just opportunities to meet and socialize through virtual avatars.

Another suggestion is to build in small icebreakers at the beginning of team meetings so that people can learn more about one another, even if they’re not in the same conference room. We have tried numerous approaches to this, but perhaps the most successful is simply a “this versus that” question before a meeting. Examples include asking employees’ preferences regarding summer vs winter, cats vs dogs, beach vs mountains, etc. The goal is to encourage employees to share so that they can get to know each other a little better personally through a short exercise.

Final Thoughts

Communication, collaboration and connection are the three C’s that define the challenges of the hybrid office. Can an organization have people working from home and still build culture? Will people who are in the office receive equal treatment compared to people who work remotely?

I think these challenges can be overcome through the suggestions I have made above. But, I want to stress that the hybrid office requires intention to overcome these challenges. Having everyone in the office makes it easier to achieve the three C’s.

Intention must be created through implementing the right technology and applications, providing multiple forms of communication, and planning collaboration opportunities. Providing these opportunities will go a long way toward building a connection between employees both in the office and at home.


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Lewis Morgan

Lewis Morgan

Lewis is a computer programmer and web developer with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He enjoys rugby, the beach, and hanging out with friends and family.