Is It Better To Work From Home Or In An Office?
People have debated the pros and cons of working from home for years. Some people think it’s a great idea because you can avoid traffic, noise, and long commutes to work. Other people argue that working remotely has drawbacks like isolation or lack of supervision. The truth is, the question, is it better to work from home or in an office?, is not an easy one to answer.
As more and more people have begun to work remotely full-time, they have reported many benefits. These have ranged from lower operational costs, higher productivity rates among remote employees, reduced distractions with fewer coworkers around, a no commute and much more.
This post will cover the pros and cons associated with working both from home and in an office. It will help you decide on the best choices in light of these existing realities.
THE PROS OF WORKING FROM HOME
- Less Commuting Stress
Employees working in an office typically waste a lot of time moving to and from the office. Many studies have shown that these people may lose up to almost two hours on the road, sitting in traffic jams. These are essential hours which would otherwise be used in working.
A lot of research has also shown that daily commuting can increase the levels of stress. Therefore, the benefit of not telecommuting can promote your health. You can divert the extra hours saved towards spending more time with your family. In addition, you can also get that much-needed extra sleep and rest!
- You Can Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
Flexibility is a desirable character. It is especially very desirable when it comes to a working schedule. This is what working from home provides you with. You have the freedom to choose what time of the day you wish to start working and when you want to stop.
Whatever method you want to use to work, that is up to you. The only important thing is to get the work done. Here, you can work while also attending to your personal needs.
This can include activities such as running your errands or taking your kids to school. In essence, this affords you the enviable opportunity to handle both work and home matters more effectively.
- Customized Work Environment
Everyone has his or her preferences regarding their work environment. It is common knowledge that employees tend to be more productive in an environment that they find conducive. Many people are motivated by the work setting that they are in.
Working at home allows you to set up your office according to your taste. From the office equipment to the decor, you have the freedom to set up your office whichever way you wish. This, therefore, enables you to work in an environment that is comfortable for you.
If you prefer some soft music in the background, the choice is yours. If working with a snack by your side is your thing, go for it. You are likely to be more productive in a home setting.
- Relatively More Productivity
The office setting is often characterized by a lot of office politics and distractions. This is in stark contrast to the atmosphere that is mostly present when working at home. Granted, there may be a distraction here and there as well.
But you would have to agree, an office setting just poses a lot of challenges in matters of distraction. The two just cannot compare. At home, you are in a position to control distractions.
For example, you can choose the quietest and secluded spot in the house to set up your home office. You can lock your kids and pets out of your working area. The office setting however is out of your control. Fewer distractions means you put more time into your work and achieve much more.
- Substantial Cost Savings
The operating costs of a company are greatly minimized when telecommuting. When a company has more of its workforce working remotely, it can reduce its overhead expenses by moving into smaller premises. Bills arising from utilities are also lowered considerably. T
o the employee, working from home saves you massive expenses of transport. Since working from home does not compel you to dress formally, spending on a new wardrobe every so often is also minimized.
The expensive lunches are also non-existent. All these savings add up and help you to put more money back into your pocket. As a result, the disposable income available to you increases.
- Positive Ripple Effect on the Environment
The numerous public transport vehicles and private cars on roads contribute to the degradation of the atmosphere. With more people working from home, there are reduced greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
This is as a result of fewer cars being on the road. Therefore, by having more people work at home, we are indirectly affecting the environment positively.
PROS OF WORKING FROM THE OFFICE
- Face-To-Face Communication
Despite the popularity of virtual communication, face to face is still the most preferred mode for an office. Video conferencing on Zoom calls cannot be equated to the effectiveness derived from face-to-face communication. Not every piece of information can be clearly “read” and interpreted through calls.
In the office, face-to-face communication also enables employees to socialize therefore meeting their social needs. The in-office work setting also presents employees with many networking opportunities. They can interact with many like-minded professionals.
Therefore, they are in a better position to take advantage of opportunities introduced to them by their networks.
- Employee Onboarding and Training
New employees and interns can be more effectively integrated into their new workplace in an office setting. This is a process that needs constant interaction between their managers and mentors and themselves. Therefore working from home can greatly hamper these processes.
The new employees would not be able to learn fast and be absorbed into the team quickly. The managers and supervisors have an easier job when the new team members are at the office. They can develop them better.
- Greater Team Building and Work Culture
Even with all the digital tools put in place, team building becomes more challenging during telecommuting. Take an instance where one group works from home and another at the office. It is not uncommon to see situations where the telecommuting group feels left out and discriminated against.
Since the other group is found present in the office, they are constantly “in the know” of all important matters. An office setting, therefore, provides the chance to foster cohesiveness and inclusivity. It is easier to “absorb” the company culture and build team spirit when working directly in the office.
- Easier Management and Supervision
Working in an office gives managers and supervisors the convenience of closely supervising their staff. They can check on their employees and even personally ask for progress regarding pending work. They can even ascertain such details for themselves.
This may however become a challenge when many of your employees work at home. Frequent meetings with the employees are not possible. There is a probability of staff slacking off and failing to meet deadlines if a tight management system is not in place.
GENERAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE DILEMMA — Is It Better To Work From Home Or In An Office?
A lot has been said regarding this dilemma. Many professionals have voiced their opinions on this debate. They have offered good insights as to which alternative is better. One professional says that working in an office setting can provide “benefits of teamwork and cross networking”.
The professional further claims that the management processes of both in-office working and working from home are what are important-more important than the place from where the employees work.
Another expert says that the focus of an employee is what is key. They should aim to be as productive at home as they might be at the office. The expert further states that for those employees that like to work alone, “working from home may prove to be very productive”.
Perhaps his view stems from the fact that you have the freedom to seclude yourself while at home. He also adds that working from home will pose a lot of challenges for extroverts. This is because they are used to working while being surrounded by others. It means that they would have to do some adjusting if telecommuting is to work for them.
One such employee confesses, “I generally prefer to be around people. However, I have discovered that in some roles, taking a day or two to work at home is vital. This allowed me to finish project work that required immense concentration and a short deadline. Now that I mostly work at home, I set up meetings most days for lunch or coffee so I get to bounce ideas off others as well. As much as I sometimes would like to work in a quiet spot away from the office, I would surely miss it if I had to work from home all the time.
It sure is nice to have that opportunity during severe weather conditions for example. Also, instead of incurring overtime, I sometimes simply worked from home to get it done without interruptions in a shorter period.”
Choose a place that makes you feel more engaged. Whether it’s in the office or at home, at the end of the day, productivity is all that matters. As seen, many studies have shown that engagement increases when employees spend some time working remotely and some time working in a location with their coworkers.
That means an optimal combination is the most desirable choice. It is essential to find this balance between working alone and interacting with managers and coworkers. This autonomy and flexibility given to employees greatly boost their overall productivity and performance. In this aspect, both choices should be applied simultaneously for a more positive outcome.
It is also imperative to select an alternative where you can be able to positively impact the environment. By working virtually, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere is reduced. Employees who are telecommuting can save time and money. As a result, this puts less stress on them.
Reduced stress levels will lead to healthier and more seamless work-life integration. Working from home means significant and reduced spending on meals. The ripple effect of this you might ask? A significant reduction in the use of single-use plastic food containers and carrier bags. Plastic and food waste will be put at a minimum.
You can still be mindful of the environment while working in the office as well. For example, you may want to consider taking public transport or look around for carpooling partners. This will go a long way in reducing the number of vehicles on the streets. The result of this is a significant reduction in the emission of toxic gases in the atmosphere.
Last but not least, settle for a working area that helps you to achieve more productivity. If you choose to work from home, you could try to boost your productivity by designating an area at home specifically for working. Having a dedicated space will help keep you focused on the task at hand.
A good example is your bedroom. You can convert a specific spot in your bedroom to be your “makeshift” office. This will work great because more often than not, your kids are “usually” banned from your bedroom. You can break your day into the “normal” working hours of your office. Taking occasional breaks is strongly encouraged.
Five-minute breaks in between your working sessions will work best. It is also important to limit your distractions. If you know you are a “foodie”, place your home office away from the kitchen. Make it a point to keep the kids occupied. You can arrange for play dates with their friends for instance.
In conclusion, you can enjoy both — work from home or office work environment with balance. It’s based on where you are most productive. Both are useful.
Originally published in HomeOffice4Us