Is remote work more productive? Or does going every day to your office yield more output? The debate between work from home vs office seems to be never-ending.
Everyone who works in an office has at some time complained about the time wasted in commuting, the monotony of endless meetings and the tediousness of sitting in the same office cubicles day and night.
Some companies tried to resolve this by introducing friendlier office etiquettes and dress codes, office vans and buses for pickups, welcoming office environments, stress-reduction areas like a library inside the office and many more solutions.
But yet, the problem of office tedium doesn’t go away. Work from home seems to be a feasible way out and a possible end to these problems. But like all other alternatives, it comes with its drawbacks and hence wasn’t implemented on a large scale until around March 2020.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic situation forced most companies to shift their workplace to the employee’s home. To shift the entire setup of the office to home, introduce new work ethics and accept Zoom calls as team meetings was a daunting task for employers and employees.
And yet, here we are a year later when working on our laptops from the comfort of our home has become the new normal!
Work From Home vs Work From Office: Points to Consider
There are some factors to consider when we talk about work from home vs office. We have tried to cover both sides of the argument as we feel no solution is entirely perfect, but it comes with its pros and cons.
With the rise in work from home, you no longer have to live near a central metropolitan area to pursue a career that you love. It would help if you had a good internet connection, a laptop and a cosy and comfortable corner in your house.
Work from home has enabled many people from the rural and small-town areas to apply and work for companies they desire – without changing their current geographic location. If you cannot travel because your spouse has a job in a particular area, then work from home is a boon! It has also allowed people to avoid high-costing homes in urban areas and save a lot of money.
A Customizable Office Space
Do you hate the chair that your office provides? Do you hate sitting in one place for long hours at a desk you don’t appreciate? Well, work from home solves all of these problems for you.
Whether you want a chair with a slant back that helps you relax more, a desk filled with your favourite stuff or some specialized office equipment – you can set up your work from home office the way you love.
With geographic boundaries merging and losing their significance at workplaces, it is an excellent time for working with multi-cultural and cross-functional teams.
This becomes easier when the work from home policy is adopted, as it includes people from all backgrounds, communities and all physical locations.
It also allows opportunities for those with disabilities who need a flexible schedule to take care of their health needs.
You can eliminate the cost of travel, car maintenance, a professional wardrobe, office luncheons from your spending entirely. All of this extra money can gift you a mini-vacation! Work from home saves money from the pocket of the employer as well as the employee. It saves a lot of office overhead cost, the cost of electricity, office canteens, equipment, rent and the list goes on.
More “me” time
Work from home is a party for introverts! For everyone who hates to socialize, there isn’t a need to do that now for all of the people who despise small talk.
Your work doesn’t revolve around anyone else’s schedule now. You can now enjoy your morning breakfast and coffee without workplace rush or undesirable interruption. An excellent start to your day ensures a productive day ahead!
Speaking of coffee, get yourself the best coffee maker you can while you work from home! To help you choose: How to Choose the Best Coffee Maker for Yourself
One of the major drawbacks of having to work from home is the technical problems that come along. Imagine you are working on something extremely important or in some meeting with a client and the internet suddenly shuts down – what are you supposed to do now?
One of the downsides of working from home is that you won’t have the same technical access and support that you might enjoy in an office setting.
As the world works upon improving these experiences, we can surely hope to settle these glitches in the future.
The cycle of work
Maintaining a proper work-life balance is a significant factor to consider while working from home.
A rigid 9 to 5 structure helps create a distinction between professional and personal life, whereas, in a home-office setting, you would keep working throughout the evening and lose the sense of time and space. It is imperative to stop getting lost in the endless cycle of work and keep track of life.
If you are a person who enjoys interacting with people, if a simple conversation over coffee energizes you to work more, then you are in for an arduous ride at home. Sitting in one place for long hours throughout the entire week may drive some people nuts.
Making friends with your colleagues, going for an occasional dinner after work and forming connections that might last a lifetime becomes problematic when the sole interaction medium is your laptop screen. It becomes annoying at times to talk to the laptop and not see any actual people listening to you.
There is no one to monitor you, no boss to yell at you when you open Facebook on your browser at home. While this freedom of doing what you want is everyone’s dream, it can prove an issue when you are supposed to submit tasks with a particular deadline.
Opening your phone constantly to check social media, getting distracted by the noise inside your house, or the arrival of guests all of a sudden can make you less productive and hence invite problems with the company.
Structuring your work
Some people need the daily commute, the office rush hour and the work surroundings to keep them motivated and focussed throughout the day – it gives a specific structure to your work.
Feedback from their teammates and actual face to face interaction is also needed to keep certain employees running. These people prefer to work strictly from the office.
Work from home: How to increase your productivity
Even though the pandemic has been a catalyst in the process of encouraging people to work from home, it is certainly not “just a trend” that will disappear over time.
Over the last year, a specific portion of individuals might have faced some of the psychological problems mentioned above, which, in turn, has taken a toll on their productivity.
There are several performance improving methods to combat these problems and the work-life balance stress that comes with working at home.
A simple yet effective process to counter these issues is the Pomodoro technique which allows employees to decompress and return to work in a more focused state.
- Choose a particular task and work on it for 25 minutes without entertaining any distractions.
- Put a mark on a plain sheet of paper or your to-do list after you finish your task, and then take a five-minute break.
- Enjoy the break guilt-free, relax and drink lots of water.
- Get back to work after your little break. After four such small intervals, take a more extended time off.
- Repeat this cycle until your workday is over.
Apart from this, consider following a schedule if you are working from home.
Make sure you divide time properly and reserve time for exercise, work, family and fun accordingly. Make a to-do list of things you have to complete throughout the day.
Choose a location in the house where there is a minimum possible distraction, which positively impacts your work. Like you can consider sitting in a place with ample sunlight, which makes you feel fresh and hence gets more job done.
Feel free to decorate your workspace at home to boost your morale. Fake/indoor plants like these are always a good touch.
Exercise so that you feel fresh throughout the day. Working from home can be demanding, but with the right level of planning, you can learn to enjoy and be productive at the same time.
Statistics show that many millennials are ready to give up other work perks in exchange for freedom and flexibility at work. This is possibly why taking up freelance work is the preferred option for a significant fraction of people now – the newer generations value flexibility, choice, and freedom over all kinds of benefits.
Many companies worldwide have adopted long term remote work policies like Amazon, Coinbase, American Express, Microsoft, Quora, and the list goes on and on.
It is not yet possible to shift the workforce to their houses, but slowly, the allowance percentage is rising. Even though the COVID situation will improve and slowly offices will open again, the employers will now have to decide how best they can accommodate their employees and merge two different work styles efficiently.
A partial work from the office or what you could call a mix of work-from-home and work-from-fix is likely a scenario in the new everyday world after the lockdown.