Remote work has been around for decades, but it has become more prominent with the growth of tech, particularly garage startups working on tight budgets. Remote work can be traced back to 1973, when Jack Niles, a NASA engineer, first coined the term “telecommuting.”
The pandemic certainly played a critical role in accelerating a shift to remote work. It was more or less a reactive step to reduce the spread of the deadly virus. However, in the post-pandemic era, employers have had to reimagine the traditional roles of office work and got accustomed to working from home (WFH).
Nevertheless, it is interesting to know that a significant portion of the workforce loves working from home; some fancy a hybrid model while others still prefer the traditional working in an office setup.
So, which work model is the best? To answer this, let’s dig deeper into the in-depth comparison of working from home and working from the office:
Why would people continue to work from home?
One survey of 2100 done by FlexJobs found that 58% of respondents said they would love to continue working from home post-pandemic. You might be wondering- why?. Here are some of the factors that are making WFH much more attractive around the globe:
Pros of working from home
- More time to complete tasks
Working from the office means you will lose a chunk of your time commuting, especially if you have to take public transport. Once you start working from home, you realize you have more time to work on assignments and tasks since you are not commuting. A survey study done by Upwork at the peak of the pandemic found that those working remotely saved an average of 49.6 minutes a day on commute time. This also has a positive impact on your wallet and budget as you will save on fuel and maintenance costs.
- Increased flexibility
The beauty of WFH is that you can always work from your couch or bean bag on the floor if you don’t feel like sitting at your desk! Sometimes, you can also choose to work in the wee hours of the night if you don’t fancy waking up early in the morning (of course, if your company allows it). Furthermore, you can seek assistance from unattended remote computer access when working on a team project. It will allow you to play your part in the team project without having to meet in person and work on the project’s progress.
- Less stress
Your work environment could add to the stress of the job, making you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. In some cases, your boss might also limit how much you can personalize your workstation, causing you to feel detached. On the other hand, you tend to be less stressed when you work from home because you are in a familiar and personal space you can customize. It makes you feel at ease, thus enhancing your productivity.
- More alone time
There is hardly any alone time when you are in the office setup. Your boss might summon you to the office, or your co-workers might just chip in and have a chat just as you had planned to take a lunch break. However, working from home means you can take something like a short nap between intervals or catch up with your favorite TV series as you unwind during breaks.
Cons of working from home
- Struggle for structure
Remote work might mean that you have to set your own routine and schedule. Therefore, you might struggle to work from home if you are used to a strict commute and office routine. You might also be challenged to ace productivity levels if you are constantly dealing with frequent distractions from your family.
Note: According to one study done by UConn, female employees are particularly affected by non-work disruptions when they work from home compared to their male colleagues.
- Technology challenges
Depending on your employer, you might also not have access to every piece of technology that would make your work easier compared to when you work from an office. Your internet at home might experience frequent glitches, leading to delays in your tasks. Of course, glitches do happen in office setups, too but troubleshooting them at home tends to be harder.
- Limited social interactions
Apart from phone calls and social media, there is often little social interaction when you work from home. In fact, you might find it hard to cope with remote work if you are a social butterfly and constantly crave connection with other people. You will have to grapple with issues like zoom fatigue.
Why are people willing to return to work?
Unfortunately, working from home is not for everyone. Some people would much rather escape the confines of their homes and do their work in the office. Mind you; there are some benefits of working from a structured office:
Pros of working in the office
- More opportunities for growth and learning
First and foremost, the office is an excellent place to get a mentor. Working in the office also helps you learn how to relate to people from different backgrounds. You will automatically know how to behave accordingly in a professional setting.
- Improved time management
If you prefer working hours that are set in stone, the fixed structure in the office will give you a feeling of stability. You will also learn how to manage your time better working with others within your vicinity.
- Creation of relationships
Unlike working from home, being in the office allows you to interact with others and make acquaintances. Even though you won’t manage to connect with everyone, there is likely someone who will become a close friend outside work.
Cons of working in the office
There are also common challenges with working in an office. Here are some of the challenges with the traditional office workplace setting:
The most obvious disadvantage of working from the office is the commute. Again, you are likely to save more money and time if you have the chance to work from home rather than spend on fuel and transport.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Another well-known disadvantage of working in the office is that it encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting at your office desk for many hours is unsuitable for your neck, back, mind and mood. Thereby, you may experience health concerns- both physical and mental.
Still not sure which is the better choice?
Even after analyzing the pros and cons of working remotely or commuting to the office, you might still be unsure about where you stand. Perhaps you have been working from the office for so long that you wouldn’t know whether remote work will work for you. You might also be apprehensive about returning to work when you are used to working from home. Here are a few tips to help you pick the better choice:
1. Choose a place where you feel more engaged
Some studies have shown that employees feel more engaged when the organization lets them work off-site three to four days a week. If you fancy working in an office, then you could use it on working days. If you prefer to work remotely, you could find an arrangement where you work only from an office when necessary.
2. Choose a place where you positively impact the environment
If you care about the environment, you should know that the vehicles we use to commute to work emit many greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Buying food from cafeterias also increases the use and disposal of plastic cups, plates, and containers. In other words, choosing to work from home reduces the negative impact of air pollution and the burning of fossil fuels. You could also strive to be more environmentally friendly if you choose to work from the office. Consider carpooling, taking public transport, or switching to an Electric Vehicle(EV).
3. Choose the space that helps you feel more productive
Remember, productivity is key to any workplace. So, designate a specific workspace free from noise and distraction if you are more effective at home. You could also create a structure that closely resembles working hours.
Most times, you really don’t have a choice.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a choice regarding office or remote work. For instance, casual workers in the production line don’t have the luxury of working from home. Lab technicians and medical professionals are excellent examples of professionals who have to report daily to work. On the other hand, you might be forced to work from home to reduce the spread of Covid-19, even though you prefer working in the office. Since you cannot do much to change your current situation, it is best to make the most out of it.
The debate continues!
We can all admit that the traditional workplace model has experienced a paradigm shift as remote work takes center stage. There is a heated debate about what the future of work might look like. Many businesses are still trying to determine whether to go for WFH, a hybrid model, or the traditional working in an office. We even saw the employees of Apple and AT&T petitioning to make the work-from-home policies permanent.
In a nutshell, the debate still goes on, but one thing is certain, the workplace as we know it will keep changing in the coming years!