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Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

No one has any doubt: that operationalizing work during the pandemic was a major challenge for many companies and employees. But taking on (and optimizing) a 100% remote, or even hybrid, model in the long term is another thing altogether. 

More flexibility and more autonomy

Remote, face-to-face, or hybrid? 5 days a week or less? 8 hours a day or 6? 

Work flexibility has become, especially in the last couple of years, a priority for many professionals, also leading companies to review the work format in which they operate, reassessing parameters such as location, time, and productivity. 

Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

No one has any doubt: that operationalizing work during the pandemic was a major challenge for many companies and employees. But taking on (and optimizing) a 100% remote, or even hybrid, model in the long term is another thing altogether. 

More flexibility and more autonomy

Remote, face-to-face, or hybrid? 5 days a week or less? 8 hours a day or 6? 

Work flexibility has become, especially in the last couple of years, a priority for many professionals, also leading companies to review the work format in which they operate, reassessing parameters such as location, time, and productivity. 

This article aims, on the one hand, to address the advantages of different working models and, on the other hand, to envisage scenarios where people work less and produce the same – or even more. 

Is remote work the future?

In the remote working regime, the worker usually manages the place where he/she performs his/her work, as well as its schedule, with resources at his/her charge (technological, etc.). Also, the remuneration and rights may be different from a regular employee of the company.

  • 82% consider that remote work is the future
  • 68% of workers want to continue working remotely after the pandemic
  • 42% is the increase in productivity noted by companies

These are just some data that the Remote Working Report 2021 reveals to us. 

Many people in Portugal have returned to face-to-face work registration, but many companies have continued remote work. 

As is evident, remote work does not apply to everyone, because they require operations that can only be performed face-to-face. 

The challenges of remote working

Although enticing, the remote model has its downside, even for workers. Here are the main challenges:

The time fallacy

When you work remotely – and anyone who has encountered teleworking for the first time quickly realized this – you can easily lose track of time. Partly because it’s no longer spent commuting, but also because of the constant interruptions at home.  


The dynamic is different when there is no face-to-face interaction with our colleagues. It’s normal to feel isolated and to lose a sense of belonging within the team.

Source: Unsplash
Lack of focus

If for some people working from home dilutes the distractions caused by colleagues, for others (especially if they have family members or pets at home) the company environment is missing to be more productive. After all, our brain tends to associate physical space with a particular mindset. 


For those who work remotely, it’s not always easy to stick to routines and knows when to stop, even when already out of confinement. The report shows that about half of the respondents had difficulties creating boundaries related to working time. 

Management and Integration of new employees

For a new employee, joining a team they barely know can present its adversities. Being integrated into a new organization is an important part of the individual’s experience, and requires a lot of tact on both sides. 

The advantages of the hybrid model

The balance between the aforementioned factors seems to lie in the hybrid model, which combines remote work with face-to-face work. In other words, some days are at home, others are in the office. 

In this work regime, the employee works outside the office (usually at home, the so-called home office), performs the same duties and the same hours as in the office, communicates constantly with his team, and uses technological resources provided by the company. Also, your rights are the same as the ones you have in the office.

On a national level, many companies have adopted this system. This is the most advantageous for both workers and companies.

Apart from the time saved on travelling, being able to spend more time with your pets, and receiving the orders you have placed online, there are more advantages to the hybrid model. And not only for the workers:


Cost reduction

The companies have fewer expenses in the maintenance of the facilities, besides the fact that the space itself can be smaller because it receives fewer employees at the same time (therefore, a lower rent). The employees have fewer travel expenses to the workplace and fewer expenses with meals. 


More flexibility, more productivity

When there is flexibility and autonomy, employees generally feel happier because they can manage their time and balance their professional and personal life. With that power in hand, they can perform better and deliver better results to the company.


Less turnover and less bureaucracy

When employees are satisfied, they tend to stay with the same organization, which allows the company to focus its resources on improving products and services and enriching the employees themselves, instead of wasting them on the incessant search for new employees and their training. 

A wider range of candidates 

Many professionals, especially younger ones, are currently looking for a remote or hybrid working regime, for its flexibility. If organizations offer these aspects, the chances of attracting good candidates expand. 


Reduction of the ecological footprint

If there has been a reduction in CO2 emissions during the confinement, a model that requires less travel to the company’s premises can also contribute to the reduction of the ecological footprint – especially if working hours are flexible, it can also mean less electricity consumption.  

A successful hybrid model

The importance of strategy

For the adaptation to a new working paradigm to be successful, the company must define a well-considered strategy.

Taking stock

What no longer makes sense? What has brought better results in the last 2 years? What are the employees saying? How can we work smarter to maintain or improve KPIs? 

Consider the various scenarios

Some always prefer to go to the office, those who work from home but with children, and some new employees barely know the team, among others.  So it’s important to consider the full spectrum of contexts to welcome all employees in a balanced way.


It’s not enough to give people autonomy. It is necessary to define explicitly which tasks, days and times must be fulfilled. In this way, the employees themselves feel more confident and will be able to manage their autonomy more effectively.

Source: Unsplash
Leadership with a pulse

Companies should invest in those who manage their business and their teams. Leaders also need autonomy and flexibility to be able to engage and promote the employee experience in a personalized way, especially as they are vital pieces in connecting everyone.

Integrating new employees

Those who come from outside have less face-to-face contact with the team, so their integration can be more complex. The company must bet on a strong digital dynamic, with practical technological and bureaucratic procedures, to be able to transmit the organizational culture and the metrics by which it is governed.

However, how can employees improve their remote experience?

Even though there are many advantages to telecommuting and remote working, it’s not all roses. And it’s not just businesses that are concerned about the efficiency of working away from the office. 

According to the aforementioned GitLab Report, employees have several fears about teleworking, most notably the lack of face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and also the difficulty in separating personal and professional life.

Source: Remote Work Report (2021), GitLab

These are some ways to make the remote experience more efficient:

  • Ensure you have all the necessary resources

A computer and internet with a stable connection are a must for working from home to flow. Without them, you will not only slow down your work but that of others. It is useful to know how to overcome technical issues or who to contact if they arise. If the monitor may be of a suitable size and the chair you sit on is ergonomic, even better. 

  • Create a Disciplined Work Environment

Set a start time and an end time for the working day to avoid the overload already mentioned. The physical space should also be prepared for work, with everything you need, including a glass of water. These routines and rituals help the brain to get into “work” mode – and out of it too. 

  • Work with discipline

What is your priority for today? Set your priorities for the day (or week, if possible) early on and stop midway through the day to review whether you are still focused on those priorities or whether some readjustment is needed. 

  • Frequent communication with the team

As well as finding out how your colleagues organise their work (they may be able to give you useful tips), you can look for interesting ways to connect with them, including the possibility of meeting face-to-face. The important thing is not to become isolated. 

 Less time at work, more life: where are we heading?

It’s not news to anyone, let alone that it took a pandemic to show us, that we have long lived in a culture of enormous pressure, where work-life often overlaps with personal life in a spiral of productivity and burnout, technological connection and disconnection from the soul. 

But there was something that the pandemic showed us: that there are things that were once unthinkable that are, after all, possible. So it is realistic to explore other opportunities, other ways of working. Even because the countries where people work more hours a day, as we see, are not the ones with the best economy – namely Portugal. 

What we can learn from other countries 

Recently the United Kingdom started a trial period of reduced working days. The idea is to keep their productivity at 100%, but work 80% and receive the usual salary. For 6 months, workers from almost 100 companies will be working 4 days a week. 

During this period, the relationship between working time and productivity will be analyzed. 

In Sweden, almost a decade ago, several companies experimented with reducing the daily workload from 8 to 6 hours (in start-ups, hospitals, car industry, among others). Some entities had to hire new staff to fill the remaining hours, of course, but in others, the productivity of employees increased, without the need for more jobs. In any case, aren’t both situations a good sign? In the first scenario, because it is an opportunity to reduce the unemployment rate, and in the second scenario, because employees would be more efficient and more satisfied, therefore the probability of staying with the company in the long term would also increase. 

Between 2015 and 2019, also Iceland tested reducing the workload per week while fully maintaining wages, and the results were clear: productivity was maintained or improved in most workplaces (schools, offices, social services, and hospitals). 
In addition to this, we also benefit from it being a potentially more environmentally sustainable option, as a report by Platform London, done in the UK in 2021, shows:

Source: Platform London

And in Portugal, what is the panorama?

In Portugal, too, people are beginning to talk about the possibility of a shorter working day, but we still need to wait a little longer. Naturally, there are fears associated with this prospect of a reduced working week, namely the need to expand jobs and the resulting tax and social charges. 

The bill for a reduced working week has already been debated and approved in the discussion of the Government Budget, and a study is being developed to assess the feasibility of the four-day week. The other good news is that knowing about this project, several companies have already volunteered to try it out. 

According to this article, Worten, Xerox, Blip and JLL are some of the companies in Portugal where employees benefit from fewer working hours on Fridays. 

In the case of Jelly, the reduction of working week hours is also already a reality, with a 7h30 daily journey. And during the summer period, employees also can leave even earlier on Fridays. 


Especially since the pandemic, with the indispensability of telework and the improvement of technological procedures, many organizations have adopted a less rigid working model.  

On the one hand, it has been seen that flexibility and autonomy at work bring many benefits to both companies and workers (especially the hybrid working regime), especially thanks to the reduction of costs and bureaucratic processes.

On the other hand, there is more resistance when it comes to the possibility of reducing the weekly workload. 

What is certain is that, particularly in the last two years, the urgency to rethink the work model in which we have been operating has become clear, not only because of the state of burnout in which many individuals find themselves due of the imbalance between professional and personal life but also because of the realization that more time at work does not necessarily mean greater success for companies or the economy of a country. 

Meanwhile, we will learn from the experiences of other countries, which have already tested or are testing labour regimes with fewer hours of work per week, to analyze how this hypothesis can be applied at a national level.