Working from home vs office - Pros and Cons to consider
By Varun Bodhi
Our office environment plays a vital role in overall productivity and mental health, so why not nail it from the get go? And now that the workforce is split between working from home or in the office, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both before selecting your future workspace.
By examining various factors such as work-life balance, mental health, collaboration and the effectiveness of remote work or an office space, this article will help readers make an informed decision on which work environment is the best for them.
Productivity and focus
Arguably one of the more important factors when deciding between remote work and an office space is productivity, along with focus levels.
Any office setting should make people feel ready to work and this can be accomplished through many methods. Many factors go into the making of a productive environment, but we’ll cover the points that the average business owner or employee will have control over.
Pros of working from home
Remote employees have the most freedom in designing their office space. Whether they want to work from a bedroom, kitchen or on the patio, it’s all possible! Remote workers can choose a space which they believe is optimised for productivity and focus, by having control over multiple factors.
In fact, most remote workers often argue the greatest reason for working from home is they feel more productive.
But there is something to be said for the elimination of commute times. Traveling to work can be a source of stress, time, energy and even money. People who are now working remotely can save hours each day that would otherwise be spent on traveling to and from the office.
If we assume the average commute is one hour each way, workers now have time to balance between their home life and office life by squeezing in some other activities. Whether it’s more sleep, dropping off kids to school, chores or whatever it may be, this cuts down a lot of stress which could come after work.
Depending on the company which employs you, there may be flexibility in how you structure work hours. Some businesses operate with the ideology of letting their team structure their own hours as long as their work is complete.
This presents the opportunity of working when you feel the most productive. Whether it's the standard day time hours or working at night, this flexibility can contribute to better work life balance.
Enhanced productivity for certain individuals
Some individuals thrive more in a self-directed environment.
Office employees have less autonomy than remote workers, and it often is a point of difference when selecting working from home or an office. Some individuals feel more productive when they have control over their workflow and don’t feel constant pressure from a supervisor or colleague.
Some employees don’t perform under the feeling of constant observation or pressure, and remote work is an avenue which eliminates this factor.
Cons of working from home
Your productivity levels might be on the rise, but this doesn’t come without some significant disadvantages which can’t be overlooked.
This notable drawback hits the hardest when you start fatiguing from multiple video calls, realising that face-to-face meetings are invaluable. Working remotely can make people miss the regular opportunities of simple office chat and teamwork which leads to the sense of camaraderie.
In an isolated and remote setting, you simply can’t get that feeling.
Lack of social interaction can also impact your mental health and before you know it, there’s a trickle down effect onto the overall job satisfaction.
Difficulty in maintaining a work-life boundary
Sometimes the boundary between work and personal life can become blurry when you’re a remote employee. How can you disconnect from work when there’s no physical separation by commuting to an office?
For example, working from your bedroom probably feels comfortable but when it’s time to log off and you’re in the same room, can you mentally switch off? And can an environment made for comfort start to create complacency in workers?
The absence of an evident transition from a workspace to the home environment commonly leads to very long work hours, burnout or a lack of motivation.
Lack of concentration
Sure you avoid office chatter, distractions from colleagues and noise distractions, but now you’re open to another set of challenges.
You’re in an area of comfort and it’s tempting to get up from the desk more often to do some chores, talk to family members or even engage in personal hobbies. Remote workers need more discipline than office workers to ensure their attention remains on work, but this might be hard for those living in a smaller space.
Pros of working in an office
An office environment is more structured and regimented with a routine that all workers mostly follow. When you’re able to clearly define the differences between work and home, there are several positive that ensue.
An environment optimised for productivity, ergonomic furniture, ideal lighting and professional environment is a major advantage of an office space. Having an area designated for work tells the mind to strictly associate a space with work and can enhance concentration.
And while there can be the occasional distractions from chatting with colleagues or office activities, the structured and professional setting of an office work environment is less distracting than home.
Employees working in an office environment can turn around and bounce ideas off each other or spontaneously collaborate. This element is one that’s missed if you work remotely and teamwork is quite minimal.
Sure there’s software made for teamwork such as Asana or Monday dot com, but there’s nothing like instantaneous input from co-workers. In terms of productivity as an individual and a team, the physical office takes the cake.
Unlike working remotely, there’s a clear separation between your work environment and home when you’re at an office space. When an individual leaves the office at the end of the day, they’re able to mentally disconnect and physically distance themselves from the office.
A clear separation is important for work-life balance and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Cons of working in an office
What a physical office lacks, a remote working environment makes up for.
As we mentioned earlier, a lengthy commute on a daily basis can often lead to frustration which eats into your energy. The time taken for a commute could be spent on extra sleep or exercise, and when traveling in a heavily crowded public transport facility you risk getting unwell - not great for productivity in the grand scheme of things.
One of the less attractive features of working in an office is the added stress of office politics.
And yes, it exists in almost every workplace. Navigating this can be stressful for those who want to simply turn up to work and get things done, without getting involved in power dynamics or competition.
Becoming overly involved in office politics can be highly stressful and reduce overall job satisfaction, which as we know is a productivity killer.
Unless it’s a hybrid work environment, then you will need to get used to working the same hours everyday. Individuals who have peak productivity times will suffer the most from rigid hours and this is a slight drawback.
During and after the pandemic most of the world started placing a strong emphasis on their mental health. The same conscious effort carried over to work life and people were quitting their job or changing occupations.
Pros of working from home
Spending more time with family was expressed as one of the things people wanted to do more after Covid, and remote working allows people to do that.
There’s a common perception that being surrounded by family members is distracting for work, but some employees are more motivated to work when given their desired work conditions. Now that the workforce is returning to the office, people are more appreciative of being awarded flexible conditions.
And ultimately, so long as people get their work done on
Cons of working from home
On the other side of the coin, burnout syndrome is a reality people still face.
Video conferencing doesn’t compensate for limited physical interaction and is often a contributor to burnout. There have been studies which found increased eye strain with video calls because of how unnatural it is.
When conversing with people in-person, we give eye contact, look away and then look back. But with a video call people feel forced to stare at the person on their screen and this results in significant fatigue over time.
Pros of working in an office
Office spaces on the other hand don’t need to deal with this dilemma. Face to face communication is in abundance in a physical environment and video calls are a more infrequent occurrence.
On top of this, people often make friends through in-person interactions at work, which can make the office environment better and improve mental health.
Which one is for you?
If you’re in a position of deciding between working from home or an office, it’s best to consider every factor mentioned in this article and create a tally system of your preferences.
The option with the most tallies would presumably be your ideal work environment. But if that’s not the case then workers can experiment with the hybrid work structure to experience both settings, and this can be accomplished through coworking spaces.
Unable to find an office space which aligns with your budget? Read our cost saving guide on lease office space.