Career Development

Working From Home vs. Working In the Office

April 21, 2021

There are many jobs that people can complete either from home or in an office setting. When considering a new job, it's important to think about whether it means working in the office or working from home. Choosing the work environment that suits you best can make a big difference to your productivity and personal fulfillment. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of both working from home and working from the office.

What is a work-from-home job?

With modern technology, employees can now complete many traditional office jobs from home. Often, all that they need is a computer, a phone, a strong internet connection and a desk. Although many industries offer work-from-home jobs, also called remote jobs, some common options include:

  • Customer service associate
  • Copywriter
  • Marketing specialist
  • Web designer
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant

What is an office job?

You can accomplish some job tasks more efficiently in an office setting. These include any job that requires the following:

  • Specialized equipment
  • A high degree of collaboration with colleagues
  • The ability to hold client meetings in a professional environment

Some advantages of working from home

There are many possible benefits to working remotely, such as:

No commute

Because people who work from home don't need to commute to work, they can spend the time that they would spend commuting on other things. This could mean that they start and end their workday sooner, or they might spend the extra time with loved ones or on other tasks. These types of employees also save money on gas or public transit.

Flexible schedule

When you work from home, you have more ability to do your work whenever best suits you. Different remote jobs have varying requirements for fixed meetings and scheduled work hours: some remote roles are more structured to allow for easier collaboration with colleagues, and others allow full schedule flexibility.

A more flexible schedule allows you to do your work at the times of day when you're most productive. It can also be easier to fit your work around commitments such as appointments or childcare.

No dress code

Unless you need to wear business clothes for a video call, you can often work at home in whatever clothes you find most comfortable. This might also mean saving the money that you would otherwise spend on a professional wardrobe for daily office work.

Healthier lifestyle

At home, it can be easier to take a short break from your computer screen when you need one, provided you practice good time management. You may have more time to fit regular exercise into your routine and to cook healthy meals in the kitchen.

Optimized workspace

Provided you're aligned with your employers' expectations for occasions like video calls, you can arrange your workspace however you'd like when working from home. With a thoughtful arrangement of furniture, you can maximize the available space and natural light.

Not confined to one location

While some remote jobs require employees to reside in the same state or country as the company, in other cases, you can work from any location in the world. If you accept a remote position, there may be no need to relocate if you enjoy living in your current location. Conversely, if you have a remote job but need to relocate for other reasons such as family commitments, you may be able to do so without needing to change your job.

Less stress

Many people find that remote jobs help alleviate some common work-related stress. Managing your own time and taking short breaks when you need to can make it easier to deal with high-pressure situations.

Related: The Benefits of Working From Home

Some disadvantages of working from home

When considering a work-from-home job, it's helpful to consider potential drawbacks and ways to address them:

Distractions

There are many distractions in the home, from family members to the television. It can be difficult to stay focused on work tasks when surrounded by other things competing for your attention. Consider setting aside a home office that only contains work-related items and keeping the door closed during work hours to minimize distractions.

Work-life balance

Working from home can result in a less clear boundary between working time and leisure time, especially if you're working in a different time zone from your colleagues and often receive messages late into the night. Setting your own office hours and keeping a dedicated workspace separate from your living space can help to enforce this boundary.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance

Loneliness

If you live alone and work from home, you can go days without seeing another person. While some introverts may thrive in solitude and find it easier to concentrate, many other people struggle without regular human contact. Ensure you schedule regular in-person meetings, such as meeting a friend for a brief coffee or morning run, to avoid loneliness.

Communication difficulties

In the office, you can usually get a response from a coworker very quickly because you share a space. However, when working from home, it may take longer to exchange emails and messages, which has the potential to delay projects. Careful time management and clear expectations about communication, especially around time zone differences, can help avoid these problems.

Some advantages of working at the office

As you evaluate your career options, there are some benefits to working in the office to consider:

Potential savings

When you work from an office, the company pays for all the furniture, equipment and utilities you use while at work. The heating bills from a cold winter, for example, can make a big difference to your personal finances if you are not spending your working hours at home.

Access to support

Working in an office, you have easy access to IT support and replacement equipment if required. Other departments are easy to reach if you need advice.

A clear boundary between work and home life

Some people find it easier to achieve a good work-life balance if there's an obvious moment each day when they finish work. When working at the office, there's a clear boundary between working time and leisure time, which some people find beneficial to their overall wellbeing.

A structured routine

The office provides a clear structure to the day and the work week. If you find you do your best work when following a regular and structured routine, then working in the office could be the right choice for you.

No outside disruptions

Many people find it much easier to concentrate in an office environment, as all the surrounding people and equipment are dedicated to work-related activities.

Easier work discussions

In the office, there are plenty of opportunities for conversations with colleagues after meetings or in the break room. Informal networking can be a valuable way of exchanging information and gauging the mood of the workplace.

Collaboration

If you need to work closely with colleagues on a project, it's usually much easier to do so if you can see them in person. Close collaboration can result in more innovative techniques that other employees in the office embrace because they see the benefits firsthand.

Related: How To Demonstrate Collaboration in the Workplace

Sense of belonging

You may feel more of a connection with your team members if you work with them in the same space every day. Working in the office alongside a dedicated group of colleagues can foster a strong sense of teamwork and belonging.

Motivation

It can be easier to find the motivation to do your assigned tasks when you're surrounded by other employees all doing the same thing. A good office has a positive atmosphere that encourages productivity.

Some disadvantages of working in an office

If you're considering an office job, you may want to consider the disadvantages so you can develop strategies to make them manageable for you:

The commute

For many people who work in an office, the commute is the biggest drawback. If you have or accept a job with a long commute, consider some techniques to make it more positive, such as listening to relaxing music, a favorite podcast or an audiobook while you travel. If you commute by public transit, you can also use this time to read.

Related: How To Manage a Long Commute

The work environment

While many employers make great efforts to foster a positive and productive work environment, not all offices are the same. When considering a new workplace, it's helpful to assess the quality of the office space and the overall atmosphere. A spacious, pleasant office with plenty of natural light can make a big difference to your personal wellbeing and productivity.

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