Working from home vs office life vs: The pros and cons
As businesses continue to adjust their return-to-the-office plans and offer more flexibility for their workforce, some workers may be wondering which option is best for them.
Yahoo Money asked experts to weigh in on the advantages of working remote versus the benefits to performing a job in the office. Here’s what they said.
ADVANTAGES OF WORKING FROM HOME
Reduced fear of airborne pathogens
Simply put, working from home means you’re not exposed to germs from your coworkers or other commuters. It gives you “a psychological assurance of not being at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19,” said Dr. Kathy Wu, a clinical psychologist and professor at Widener University.
No commute stress
Say goodbye to bumper-to-bumper traffic, finding parking, or even cramming into a crowded bus or subway car. Eliminating your commute also has the added benefit of improving your mornings, according to New York City-based therapist Lin Sternlicht. “This time can be used to sleep a bit longer, to ideally get a quality eight hours,” Sternlicht said.
More quality time for yourself
“Being able to complete household chores, like laundry, which can be done while working from home eases the stress of having to do them on the evenings or weekends,” said life coach Dr. Marilyn Simmons Bowe.
Ben Taylor, founder of Homeworkingclub.com, a resource for freelancers and remote workers, also pointed out that you can squeeze in more time for physical exercise — a must for self-care.
Those work expenses can add up.
“If you are working from home you are able to save more money as you eat at home more, you don't spend as much on gas because you are not driving as much anymore, and you don't spend money on work clothes,” said Anusree Gupta, a licensed professional counselor practicing at Hope Heals Therapy in Austin, Texas.
Freedom from distractions and increased concentration.
We all have that chatty coworker who always seems to stop by just when you need to focus — that’s never a problem in your home office. Jennie Marie Battistin, a therapist based in California, explains, “introverts often find increased productivity working from home.”
Additionally, “the amount of work done can be boosted,” said Jeremy Cooper, a career coach and head of Balanced Life. “An increased focus without distraction at home (family and pets permitting) can improve the amount of work you get done, which provides a greater sense of achievement.”
PLUSES TO WORKING IN THE OFFICE
Work can help you meet your social needs
Some people like interacting with their coworkers, said Dr. Marilyn Simmons Bowe, a social and emotional learning coach. “Working from home can sometimes lead to feeling lonely or isolated. People need people,” Dr. Bowe said.
Getting everyone into the office can also build cohesion and more attachment to the company. “When working together, there is a reduced fear of missing out — everyone is in the same place and has the same opportunities,” Cooper said.
You get more direct feedback
“If you need help from a teammate or boss, it is much easier to catch them in real time rather than wait for emails or to schedule a Zoom meeting,” said Laura Rippeon, a North Carolina-based social worker.
Additionally, you can get real-time feedback on your work.
“Humans need to feel that their work serves a purpose, often that simply requires a smile or comment to validate a job well done — which is best done in person where we can pick up on physical cues,” Sternlicht said.
“If the office offers a stimulating environment where you enjoy spending time, working from the office may be an advantage ” said Marie-Hélène Pelletier, a psychologist who specializes in workplace issues.
Anusree Gupta, a counselor at Hope Heals Therapy, added that there can be “more creative engagement” when it comes to working together in an office.
“Some jobs require brainstorming and collaboration,” Gupta said. “Being able to share ideas in person and not having to wait for someone to return your message evades frustrations, miscommunication, and promotes creative work.”
Some people enjoy commutes
What if the commute isn’t so bad after all?
“A commute can be positive because it allows for me time to listen to music and even sing while stuck in traffic. This clears the mind on the way to work which prepares you to seize the day,” Dr. Bowe said. “The return trip allows for time to debrief and prepare to embrace family/home life.”
Setting up a home office can be hard
So, you’re not an expert on office design and can’t afford a fancy desk chair for your home office? You’re not alone.
“People often go cheap on a desk, light, chair etc., and it will impact them longer-term,” said Cooper, noting the ergonomic challenges presented by many home offices that workers set up themselves.
“Even once everything is in place, it is important to remember that obstacles can still be presented, from being your own IT support to working through logistics that are typically handled by office support staff,” said Dr. Erica Richards, chair and medical director of the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at Johns Hopkins Medicine-Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC.