If you have the choice of whether to work from home or at the office, you might find yourself at a crossroads. What are the actual differences between working from home and working in the office? Is one more beneficial to you than the other? I think it safe to say that both options offer pros and cons.
There are 15 things to consider when comparing working from home vs. working in the office. The considerations relate to the following:
- The commute.
- Access to technology and equipment.
- Work-home life balance.
- (Self) motivation.
- Customization of workspace.
- Access to technology.
- Data security.
- Workload – hours worked.
- Health and fitness.
- Mental health.
- Improved quality of life.
If you want to ensure that you choose a work format/environment that is best for you, it is important to consider the various pros and cons that come with working in the office or working from home. Make sure that you consider each of these points carefully before making a definitive decision.
The 15 Differences Between Working from Home & Working in the Office
Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which working from home and working in the office compare. There are 15 main differences that one should consider.
1. The commute.
When you’re working from home, there’s no longer a daily commute to and from work. Not only will this save you time and money, but it will ensure that you are exposed to lower pollution levels. Your stress levels and blood pressure will also reduce as you won’t be exposed to the stressful nature of peak hour traffic each day.
When working in the office, there is no way around you. You either have to drive yourself or make use of public transport to get to work on time and to make it home at a decent hour. This can create high blood pressure, increased stress levels, spiked anxiety, and affect your health as you are exposed to fuel fumes daily.
2. Access to technology and equipment.
One of the perks of working in the office is that you have all the equipment and technology you need right at your fingertips. You might not have a printer, scanner, copier, or reliable internet access at home, whereas you have all of these things in the office. If you have a slow connection or pay for data for internet at home, your load time and costs might increase when sending and receiving large files over the internet for work.
3. Work-home life balance.
The topic of striking a balance between home and work life is also a tricky one to approach. Some people find it easier to separate their home and work life by working in the office. This sets definitive work hours, and when they leave the office, they leave their work stresses at the door.
When working from home, there’s a tendency to always “just do something quick” for work, which means that having work readily available in the home could start having a negative impact on family time. This doesn’t mean that working from home will definitely cause an unbalance. You just have to set definite work hours in place and commit yourself to balance your time between work and home life.
4. (Self) motivation.
Getting up at the same time every day, going to work, reporting for duty, and leaving at a specific time every day is the type of schedule that doesn’t need to inspire motivation. It is just something that you have to do if you want to get your paycheck at the end of the month. This is why some people feel more motivated to get their work done, by working in the office.
On the other hand, working from home can be convenient, but it doesn’t promote motivation. In fact, you might feel even less motivated to get things done because you are surrounded by all of your comforts and distractions. Self-motivation is hard when working from home, but not impossible. Again, it all comes down to the individual.
Although it might seem counterintuitive, working from home is bound to ramp up your communication skills. While sitting in the office, you take for granted that everyone is in the same space and with access to information. When you work from home, you actively have to make an effort to reach out to other team members and communicate with them clearly.
Productivity is a tough point to compare when it comes to working from home vs. working from the office, as it really comes down to each individual. For instance, some people might find that they are far more productive working from home because they are in their own space and aren’t tempted to talk to other work colleagues. On the flip side, other people might find that they are more productive in the office because they are away from their daily comforts and distractions such as the fridge, the sofa, the television, unmonitored access to social media, and so on.
Working from the office comes with a strict work schedule in place. You are expected to be at your desk at a certain time, dedicate a certain number of hours to work and then only clock out after a certain time. Lunch times are monitored, along with tea and coffee breaks.
When you work from home, there is far more flexibility available to you. You can get up a bit later than usual (thanks to no commute), and you can slot a home workout in when you have a spare moment. There’s no need to put on your make-up or dress up (saving plenty of time), and you can have lunch, tea, and coffee whenever you want it.
Also, at home, there’s usually no one managing your time for you, so you might have to ensure you are dedicated to getting your work done instead of becoming so flexible that you actually become slack.
8. Customization of workspace.
Working at home comes with the perk of being able to set up a workspace that truly appeals to you. You can place your desk, get all the furniture and equipment that’s comfortable for you, and you can determine how to set it all up.
When you work in the office, you will have to make-do with what’s made available to you. You might be stuck away alone in a private cubicle, or maybe you are in an open plan workspace where none of your conversations are private.
9. Data security.
When working from the office, there’s the security that you need for data and sensitive information on work devices provided. The IT department will ensure that the network is protected, that backups of devices are regularly carried out, and you won’t have to use your personal devices for business.
When working from home, there’s a risk of becoming a victim of a data breach or phishing as you will be using your own home network. Home networks typically have less cyber-security in place, and chances are that you will be using your own laptop and mobile phone for business purposes. This places data security at risk.
It’s hard to feel part of a team when you aren’t working in the same space. Working from home has its perks, but promoting teamwork might not be one of them. Working in the office provides you with access to your work colleagues and the atmosphere of working as a team.
When you work in the office, the opportunity for self-care is often limited. You might rush to and from work, grab coffee on the go, and eat fast food for lunch. The opportunity to really take care of yourself is limited, when working in the office.
When you work from home, you have a bit more time to moisturize every day, prepare a healthy lunch, stay more hydrated, get a bit more time in the sun, and avoid those quick on-the-go high-calorie snacks and meals.
12. Workload – hours worked.
Working in the office provides a bit more safety in terms of workload. Your supervisor can see how hard you are working and knows how much you can typically get done in a day. When you work from home, there may be the risk of management not believing how much time and effort you are putting in. They might pile on the extra work and have unrealistic expectations of you. Working from home makes it a bit more difficult to prove the hours you are working.
13. Health and fitness.
What type of person are you? Are you the type of person that has to exercise in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening? Again, how much your work environment plays into your health and fitness can come down to who you are as an individual.
Those who work in the office may find it quite helpful to pop in at the gym on the way home from work. In fact, the commute home might just make it convenient for you, and soon it becomes a habit.
On the other hand, if you are the type of person that can get so impacted by the day that you find yourself often missing your fitness workouts because you are too tired from the day, you might benefit more from working at home. When working from home, you can use the time you would spend on your morning commute to do a home workout. You could also squeeze a workout in at any time of the day when you have a few free moments.
14. Mental health.
When working from the office, chances are that you experience increased stress and anxiety. It’s not just about the commute, but also about spending long periods of time with people you might not particularly enjoy. Working from home offers you access to the best (and healthiest) company of all: your own. Spending time alone and limiting time spent with people who don’t add personal value to your life is a great way to boost good mental health.
15. Improved quality of life.
When working from the office, you can experience a great lifestyle, but chances are that working from home provides you with far more time to do the things you love. Need to nip out to watch the kids’ soccer match? You probably can’t do that when you are miles away from the office, but you can certainly do that if you are working from home.
As you can tell, working from home and working from the office can be very different. Both working options have pros and cons. Choose an option that’s right for you.