The debate about working from home vs. office environments has been raging for some time, especially with the recent pandemic forcing so many people into working from home. Many claims that working from home is the way of the future, but is it a better option?
Let’s break down things like the cost of working from home vs. office work, whether it improves your productivity, and if you save any money working from home. We’ll break each of these topics down in-depth to help you gauge whether this working environment is right for you.
As importantly, we’ll also check how motivated you work from home and whether you maintain a better work-life balance as a remote worker. This way, you can avoid unnecessary complications and choose a work situation that improves your life.
Working From Home Vs. Office Productivity
Since working from home has become so prominent in recent years, multiple studies have examined things like working from home vs. office productivity and whether it truly benefits you. We’ll look at two studies, one that finds positive results working from home and another that finds negative results. Balancing the studies in this way produces a comprehensive understanding.
Some Find Positive Results Working Remotely
We checked out a few different studies, and one that caught our attention was published by the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. They tested company and employee resiliency and whether relocating from an office affected productivity. It gauged productivity after a natural disaster forced oil workers to relocate from an on-site drilling rig to their homes for an extended period and focused on whether this adversely damaged their work efforts.
Researchers discovered that relocating to a new environment or remotely for an extended period didn’t negatively affect workplace productivity. The study found that companies that promote healthy behaviors for remote workers and robust connectivity between their employees can improve productivity and emotional health in remote workers.
Some Find Conflicting Results
Another study by Stanford University found more conflicting results when examining working from home vs. office productivity. While the study found that many people did have at least equal productivity working from home, it also found that only certain types of people were able to work as well at home. They found that only 51% of remote workers had an efficiency rating of 80%.
These workers included people like managers, entrepreneurs, financial workers, and others who could do their work easily with a computer. People who required a more hands-on approach, such as psychiatrists, didn’t work as well in a remote environment, even though video conferences did help they still might say that working from home isn’t for them. Effectiveness also varied based on internet connection and a person’s computer quality.
Pros and Cons of Working From Home
When examining working from home vs. office situations, it is vital to debate the work from home vs. working from the office advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these facts can help you decide whether this option makes the most sense. Read on to learn more about this fascinating subject.
Pros of Working From Home
Let’s start with the positives first by examining the pros. We did the hard research to identify the best and most relevant benefits for you.
1. Ability to Set Your Schedule
The most significant and obvious advantage of working from home is being able to set your schedule. You can typically wake up when you want and do what tasks you need. Some people even set up their time management to create stronger schedules. As a writer for Western Governors University put it: “Research shows that you can be even more effective when working from home, and creating a schedule is a key way to help you be more effective as you work.”
2. Potentially Less Stress
Reduced stress is often the most significant reason people want to work from home. Mental Health America, an advocacy group, focused on supporting people’s emotional health, reported that 75% of polled individuals found that remote work reduced stress. They achieved these benefits by decreasing work-related conflicts, minimizing their commute, and creating a personalized work environment.
3. No Regular Commute
Remote work is a great option if you’re sick of driving to work every day! It will decrease your commute hours to zero and keep you at home more. This benefit is huge if you live in areas with dense traffic, have to drive on freeways, or worry about winter driving. Avoiding roads decreases your risk of crash-related injuries and can even help your cars last longer.
4. Stronger Work-Life Balance
In an interview published by the University of Denver, professor Cindy Fukami said that working from home could improve work-life balance. It stated that remote schedules “…spread working throughout the day (to make) some activities more convenient and useful for those who prefer a flexible schedule…” she said it was important for remote workers to detach at the end of the day to avoid 24/7 work lives.
5. Minimal Office Politics
You don’t have co-workers coming up to you to chat or distractions when you work from home. If you buckle down and focus, there’s a good chance you could get more done and be more productive at work because of fewer office-related distractions, like gossip.
Cons of Working From Home
While working from home has many advantages, we’d be lying to say everything is positive. There are negatives to working from home that does affect many people. Understanding these concerns is vital to choosing the best work environment for your needs.
1. Potential Loneliness
Working from home can be a lonely experience, as this article published by MIT notes: “Neuroscience research has found that only in-person interactions” can build the solid personal connections needed to avoid long-term loneliness. While video chatting and other methods may help, in-person communication is still the most effective way to connect with co-workers.
2. Troubles With Communication
Communicating via text messenger, phone, or video chats can help remote teams stay closer but can also affect communication. It’s much easier to walk to a co-worker’s office or cubicle and ask them a question than messaging them on Slack and waiting for a response. This communication problem could decrease interpersonal connections and affect productivity by slowing response times.
3. Challenging Remote Company Culture
Creating a strong company culture in a remote environment is far harder. The University of Phoenix states, “Maintaining a positive organizational culture isn’t just about employee happiness…” but helping workers feel supported. It can be tough to create this feeling in a remote environment, no matter how hard a business tries to set great work from home goals, and other techniques.
4. It Can Be Hard to Focus
While some people may focus more efficiently in a remote situation, others may find concentrating hard. They may do work chores, watch television, play video games with your puppy, and do other distracting things that make it very hard for them to stay productive. This problem can be pretty frustrating.
5. No Time to Decompress
Decompressing after work is incredibly important because it gives you time to think about your day and what happened. Commuting back home from work provides a “third space” for this decompression that remote workers rarely possess. As a result, you may feel at work constantly and struggle to relax.
Remote work can provide many benefits, including the potential for reduced stress and fewer distracting office politics. However, it is also clear that it can cause stress for many people or even affect their ability to focus. As with everything, how you approach this process will affect your results.
Pros and Cons of Working in an Office
While it might seem like remote work wins in the working from home vs. office environments debate, in-person work has many advantages. Let’s break down the five pros and cons of this situation, including a summary highlighting why this is a great option for the right person.
Pros of Working in an Office
Working in an office can provide many amazing benefits that make it well worth considering. Understanding a few might help people who want a remote environment understand that they still have some good parts to their office job.
1. Easier to Transition Into a New Environment
Working in an office is often an easier transition for new employees, which is important for people adjusting to a new position. As this study reveals: “The socialization of new employees has important consequences for individuals and organizations. Various researchers contend that the quality of socialization affects employee satisfaction, attitudes, stress, performance, commitment, and turnover.”
2. Improved Employer Connection
Office workers often feel more connected to their employers because they spend much physical time in the office. As a result, they may have higher morale and a stronger investment in a company’s success. Remote workers may feel disconnected from their employer and struggle to feel the same impetus for success.
3. Stronger Networking Opportunities
Networking is vitally important for any career. As Champlain College states: “Most people associate networking with a job search, and while looking for a new job is an excellent reason to leverage your career network and build new connections…” Networking is much harder remotely than in an office because you don’t meet as many people connected to your industry.
4. Creates a Strong Work Routine
People who need consistency may prefer working in an office over working from home. Consistency may increase productivity, as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reports: “Our research shows employees display greater performance and well-being when the level of challenging tasks they work on is consistent…” Being in an office creates that consistent routine that some people may need to stay focused.
5. Provides Decompression Time
Working in an office means you must commute daily, which gives you a buffer before and after work. During this time, you can decompress and think about your day and how you feel. Some people even enjoy commuting because it gives them time to check out their environment or even go shopping, minimizing the feelings of being “stuck” at home like some remote workers feel.
Cons of Working in an Office
As you might expect, working in an office has many disadvantages. The following downsides are important when deciding to work in an office instead of a remote environment.
1. Schedule May Not Suit Everyone
Working a 9-5 may not suit everyone’s biological needs, as some people may be more productive outside their work schedule. For example, research on this topic claims that things like “…shift work causes changes in the light-dark cycle…” in a person’s body. This problem may cause sleep issues when an individual works outside their comfort level and trigger other complications.
2. Lack of Privacy
Introverted people who need a lot of privacy may struggle in a work environment. A study of over 200 people found that introverts need personal time to recharge their energy and may have difficulty interacting with people for extended periods. Introversion isn’t the same as being shy, as many introverted people are very social. However, an office environment may wear them out and cause work issues.
3. Longer Commute Times
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that “…the average one-way commute in the United States increased to a new high of 27.6 minutes…” in 2019, nearly one hour on the road every day. While that time may be a good way to decompress for some, it adds extra time away from home and could increase a person’s risk of serious car crashes each time they get on the road.
4. Social Conflicts
Your chance of social conflict increases heavily when you work in an office environment. Remote work gives you a buffer zone between co-workers you may not enjoy working with daily. Being in an office puts your right next to them and potentially increases your risk of conflict.
5. Potential for Distractions
While it can be great socially to chat with your co-workers in the office, it can cause a lot of distractions. Even worse, group lunches can rob your time, make it harder to focus on work, and reduce productivity. Remote work can be beneficial for gregarious people in this way by helping them stay more focused.
Many downsides of working from an office mirror the benefits of remote work and vice versa. Office work can create more consistent work environments and higher socialization but may also increase distractions and cause social problems, such as conflicts with co-workers.
Cost of Working From Home Vs. Office
Working from home can cut back on many different expenses over working in an office, such as:
- Commuting costs, like gas costs, vehicle wear, and repair costs
- Official uniforms that may be necessary for your work situation
- Childcare or animal care costs
- Eating out while at the office
That said, working at home does come with unique expenses that you don’t experience when working in an office, including:
- Desks and office supplies for the home
- Internet costs, such as upgrading for higher-speed connections
- Food expenses for lunches, snacks, and drinks
Is It Cheaper to Work From Home or the Office?
It is far cheaper to work from home than at the office due to lower commuting and food costs. The nominal costs of setting up a home office don’t compare to the money you spend working at an office. Read the information below to examine why this is the case in more in-depth.
This study gauged London commuting days and found that working from home could save $2,152.80 on public transportation expenses each year. The same study found that Hong Kong employees who worked from home saved $692.20 per year on car-related expenses.
Furthermore, the same study found that Americans spend $1,100 on coffee every year in coffee shops. Many reported buying coffee while at work. Rather than spending nearly $5 per cup of coffee in a shop, remote workers can spend around $0.50: a 90% price reduction that can add up over time.
Overall Cost Reduction
Another study found that U.S. workers spend between $2,000-5,000 simply commuting to work every year, money that they don’t spend when working from home. One estimate found that workers paid nearly one-quarter of their monthly income through commuting, food costs, and other expenses when working in an office.
As you can see, the debate between working from home vs. office work isn’t simple. If you prefer setting your schedule, want to save money, and like not having a commute, remote work is right for you. But if you enjoy socialization and need the structure of in-person work, an office may work best for you. Take your time to carefully consider these points before setting your schedule.