Work From Home Vs. Work From Office

The debate on whether work form home is better than work from office has been ongoing for years. In this article I've discussed the benefits and challenges of remote work and the possibility of a hybrid work model in the future.
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Working from home or having the option to work from home seemed like an ideal situation to me while I was working in IB because it was a rare phenomenon owing to its confidential nature.

I always saw the many benefits of working from home including simply rolling out of bed and getting to my office without the stress of making myself presentable or wasting time on commuting to the workplace. However, after over 8 months of working from home, this situation has become less than ideal. I've discovered that for every pro of working from home there also happens to be a con.

Starting off on a good note, here are some of the benefits of working from home:

1. Flexible timing allows for a combination of work and leisure

For instance, working from home means that your timings are more flexible, and you’ll be able to get other things such as errands and appointments done in between meetings and work. It also gives you the opportunity to squeeze in some quality time with your family. All you need to do is get your work done on time and be present when required. This would not have been possible if with a 9-5 job in the office. 

Work from home allows for a combination of work and leisure.
Work from home allows for a combination of work and leisure.

2. Embracing digital platforms to communicate effectively

Several companies have started to embrace various digital platforms such as MS Teams, Google Meet, Skype for Business, Webex, and many more in order to continue communicating seamlessly with team members as well as clients. A quick chat message, email, or call is sufficient to get updates and clarifications.

Additionally, these platforms are also being leveraged to conduct colleague engagement events like virtual catch-ups and Friday game nights to keep team spirits up. This way you can enjoy all of these activities from the comfort of your home while ensuring high levels of productivity.

Use of digital platforms to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients
Embracing technology for communication 

3. Time and effort saved on commute and
presentation

One of my favorite pros of working from home is undoubtedly the amount of time and effort saved from commuting and dressing up. All I need to do is wake up, turn around and log in. While this means that my laptop has pretty much become my partner, I can still have an elaborate morning routine that I can do at my own time instead of being stuck and ruining my mood in traffic.

I’m sure that most people will also agree that there is no more hassle of deciding what to wear. If you do need to be presentable, just put on a nice shirt and maybe brush your hair and voila, you’re meeting ready! (No one is going to see those PJ pants)

Formal tops and PJ pants- The new WFH style
Formal tops and PJ pants- The new WFH style 

Although work from home sounds perfect, it does come with its fair share of challenges. Some of these challenges of working from home include: 

1. There is no clear cut division of time between work and leisure

While going home traditionally meant being done for the day, such a clear-cut division between work and leisure both physically and mentally is not possible anymore. In fact, studies have shown that individuals work longer hours from home than from the office. Hence, many people today realize that working from home really does not enable work-life balance, and setting boundaries has become imperative; now more than ever.

Boundaries between work and leisure are blurred
Boundaries between work and leisure are blurred 

2. Lack of communication and collaboration among co-workers

Another major drawback of working from home is the lack of proper connection with your co-workers. While virtual meets and catch-ups are great and can be a very fun and convenient way to connect, nothing beats the random chai breaks and impromptu chit chat sessions with a colleague on the work floor. Some may argue that working from home may reduce these distractions, but his work really the same without these little cheery breaks?

In addition to this, it is also difficult to understand a colleague’s tone from just a text message or an email. And most often, we assume the worst. This has made me realize how blind we actually are to an individual’s tonality without facial expressions and body language to rely on.

Just as Yuval Noah Harari said in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, we humans are meant to collaborate and work together through effective communication. It is one of the major features that set us apart from all other animal species out there and it just cannot be done as efficiently by machines.

In person engagement and collaboration is lost
In-person engagement and collaboration is lost 

3. Need for a change in scenery to aid mental and physical health

There is no denying that this whole work from home situation saved me a ton of money, but I do miss getting out of the house, driving to work, and meeting my co-workers. I realize that this was a very underappreciated change of scene which I’m having to make an effort to do now.  

After nearly 8 months of putting in zero effort to dress up professionally and seeing the sad state of my workwear and lipstick collection, I’d do anything for a chance to put them all on again. Of course, some may say that we can do all this at home too, but what’s the fun in that?

After spending most of my day indoors, stressed and in front of a screen, a change in scenery is extremely important to ensure some amount of physical and mental health.

Mental and Physical health could take a toll from prolonged periods of screen-time
Mental and Physical health could take a toll from prolonged periods of screen-time

With the Covid-19 pandemic on our hands, many organizations have been forced to give their employees work from home access. There are many positive outcomes to this including greater productivity and flexibility.

However, whether an organization should go back to purely in-office work operations is debatable even with its many proven benefits. The current situation can be taken as an example to analyze employee productivity and happiness among other factors to make a decision regarding this matter. 

Microsoft is an excellent example of an organization that has thoroughly analyzed these parameters and made the decision of adopting a Hybrid work model for all MS employees across departments.

This means that even after the pandemic is over, employees can continue working from home permanently if they wish to or can opt for remote work for less than 50% of their working week. This ensures that people who enjoy remote work can continue doing so, those who enjoy the office environment can work from the office and for all those undecided souls such as myself, there is the hybrid model. 

More and more organizations such as Facebook and Google have also started to switch to such a hybrid model to ensure that employees have a lot more flexibility to support individual and business needs. Such work policies also make organizations more attractive to quality talent. Happy employees are more productive, they make a happy workplace and a profitable business. 

Chai obsessed book lover with a huge passion for food, fitness and all things creative✨

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