The biggest difference between working at home or working at the office is quality of life; and it’s not the same for every person. Working at home means freedom, less time commuting, and fewer expenses. While working at the office means connecting and collaborating with co-workers, fewer distractions, and simply working in a “professional” environment, which some people find more productive.
But each has its pluses and minuses.
Working at home
- No commute means more time during the day.
- You cut down on clothing expenses.
- You cut down on eating out.
- You have more freedom with a flexible schedule.
- You’re there for emergencies.
- It’s isolating.
- It requires more discipline.
- You might unintentionally work more hours for free.
Working at the office
- You get to mingle and socialize with your co-workers.
- You don’t feel isolated.
- There’s opportunity to collaborate with your peers in real life.
- You are in a productive work environment.
- Management can see your value first hand.
- Wasting hours getting to and from work in some cases.
- Cost of transportation to and from work.
- Office politics.
- Expenses (Gas, clothing, lunches).
- You have less freedom.
Let’s look into a few of these.
Certainly, one of the biggest factors when deciding to work from home is the daily commute. I doubt there is a single working person who enjoys commuting, with the possible exception of those who take public transit and are able to relax and read, do a crossword, etc. But for those who drive into work every day, it’s just wasted money and effort. Working at home allows them to recoup that time and expense.
Besides transportation costs, there are other expenses during the day that you have to factor in. Everything from your morning latte to the twice-a-week restaurant lunch, to the extra clothes budget. It all adds up.
Freedom is a double edged sword. If you have discipline, working at home can be amazing. Sure, you have to get work done, but you also have the freedom to take a break when you want, make a delicious lunch, and just manage your own time as long as you fulfill your work commitments.
Now, this newly found freedom can also be detrimental if you mismanage it. You need to have discipline because you’re still expected to put in a good day’s work. You aren’t on vacation. Some people struggle with that and perform much better in the office.
In the beginning, working at home might sound like a dream come true. However, you may quickly discover that it can be a lonely existence. If your spouse and the kids are at work and school, you may find yourself having meaningful conversations with the cat. This really depends on your personality, but some people thrive and others struggle when faced with isolation during the day.
For years, you have likely worked beside your peers in the office. This often means that there is a social aspect to the job. Whether it be catching up on last night’s Grey’s Anatomy, engaging in some office gossip, or chatting about your upcoming vacation – whatever you are used to is going to be gone. Some people don’t get this until they are sat at home in front of a screen with no other humans around.
There’s nothing like talking to people in person if you have a question or you need someone else’s input. Live conversations will never be replaced by a phone conversation or Zoom call.
There is just something about being part of a team that is satisfying. Working at home doesn’t have that, even if your co-workers are a phone call away.
Almost every workplace experiences office politics at some point. No one gets along with everyone. However, when it comes to cliques that exclude you, and/or bullying, or other hostile behaviour, you may be thankful that you are out of the office. Working at home can be a viable solution in this case, especially if management hasn’t been helpful.
Or maybe your work environment is toxic for other reasons. Whatever your situation, it’s nice to have the option to work at home, away from all the drama.
Giving Up Time
There’s a strange phenomenon that hits some people when they start to work from home – and it’s that they start giving the corporation free time. This usually occurs outside of regular work hours and can be a real problem if it progresses. It might start out innocently enough when you decide to work an hour extra at the end of the day, just so you can finish off one thing and start fresh in the morning on another. Your logic is that it makes your life easier and it never hurts to look more productive.
Or maybe you’re the type of person that finds it hard to let go once you’re into something. Think of it this way: Once quitting time comes around at the office, everyone is leaving, the place is shutting down, your train is waiting, or you want to beat the rush hour. At home, there is none of that. Your work is just sitting there, 30 feet from your kitchen. What could be the harm in solving that one last problem for the day, right?
As it turns out, there is a lot of harm. First of all, you are giving away your own time without compensation. Additionally, you are making the rest of your co-workers look bad if you are working off the clock.
One could argue that it can only benefit your career, but who wants to work for nothing? Don’t sell yourself short. Get paid for every hour you work.
Some bosses might try to take advantage of the fact that your office is at home. If they need something after hours, it’s more likely they will ask. If you worked in the office, it’s unlikely you would have access to the information they needed anyway.