Differences Between Working From Home and the Office
Savvy professionals know how to leverage the differences of working from home and the office to skyrocket their careers.
As we learned in our State of Remote Work Report (July 2022), there’s a fierce battle between CEOs pushing for a return to the office and employees wanting to continue working remotely.
Since 97% of people want to WFH for the rest of their life — even if only part-time — employees are learning how to negotiate flexible working arrangements for a compromise.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “many companies have firmly set their sights on flexible working arrangements that can significantly boost productivity and employee satisfaction [*].”
So we’ll share a few tips to help you use the differences between working from home and the office to your advantage. And if you decide a 100% remote job sounds better, we’re all about that too.
Leveraging the Differences between Working from Home and the Office for Max Career Wins
These are the biggest work from home vs. work from office advantages and disadvantages when it comes to:
The Work Environment
Setting up your dream home office creates a personal space for good ideas to flourish. WFH also supports work from anywhere lifestyle. You can brainstorm from your local coffee shop or travel while working remotely. You might even decide to get a digital nomad visa and work from a beautiful country on your bucket list.
Working at the office doesn’t give you the same flexibility. You’ll usually have an office, cubicle, or shared workstation with or without a window. And 27% of in-office workers admit their work environment negatively influences their ability to focus [*].
This may be why Forbes says 66% of business leaders are preparing to redesign office spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments [*].
The Work Schedule
Working at the office typically happens during standard business hours. That’s around eight hours per day, five days a week.
But loads of studies show people can only stay in the deep focus work zone for three to four hours, max. So the rest of those hours at your desk equate to pure busy work. To prevent wasting time, schedule shallow work tasks for in-office days.
Working from home means you can create a work schedule that leverages your most productive hours to work fewer hours. Enter a flow state, crush all your tasks, meet your deadlines, and have the rest of your day to yourself. So save your deep focus work for WFH days.
Not having to commute to work in rush hour traffic is a huge perk of work-from-home jobs. Employees save time, money, and stress. That’s why you should never waste this upside snoozing your alarm. Use this time wisely to exercise, meditate, journal, or plan out your day.
While a hectic commute is never fun, you can make the most of one when you have to work at the office.
Map new routes to your HQ to keep the trek interesting. Add a new podcast that supports personal development to your rotation. And don’t forget that thousands of libraries offer free audiobooks through the Libby app to keep up with your reading list or book club.
Image via Libby via Overdrive
By reserving specific activities for your WFH and office days, you always have something to look forward to during your commuting window.
The Dress Code
People are most creative, confident, and productive when they feel comfortable. So wear whatever makes you happy when working remotely. Just be careful not to cross the too-comfy boundary and make it harder for your brain to switch into work mode.
Most office settings call for a business casual dress code. Getting out of your yoga pants or flip-flops may help you separate your home and work life. Business-like attire also gives off trustworthy, authoritative vibes when speaking to clients, holding meetings, negotiating a raise, etc.
One survey revealed that 77% of remote workers believe they’re more productive working from home [*]. And a whopping 75% of people say they work remotely because there are fewer distractions outside the office [*].
Once you learn how to find productivity and motivation working from home, it’s easier to enter that deep workflow state.
If you find the hum of your coworkers and office life distracting, you can shut the door to your office, wear headphones to cancel out the noise, or find a quiet spot somewhere else to work. Try to schedule work tasks that require lots of real-time input from your team or shallow work duties to stay productive here.
Physical Health, Fitness, and Mental Health
Your work environment can wreak havoc on your physical health, fitness levels, eating habits, and mental wellbeing.
Remote workers can prepare and eat nutritious meals at home. They can also make room in their schedules to exercise and take walks to meet their 10k step goal during the day. That’s why 42% of remote employees say their work environment positively impacts their health and fitness [*].
Image via paychex
Office workers usually grab lunch out and may be too exhausted to whip up a home-cooked meal when they get home. Many get glued to their desks and skip breaks. So over 34% of people working in-office believe their work environment negatively impacts their health and fitness [*].
Put that all together, and almost 30% of in-office employees admitted to gaining weight since starting their jobs [*].
Despite those health outcomes, it’s not always easy to keep your mental health in check when you work from home. Remote workers report higher feelings of isolation and loneliness when working solo.
That’s why many remote companies are prioritizing support for mental health in the workplace. This starts with being more aware of and preventing unreasonable workloads and deadlines. It also extends to offering the best company benefits every remote team should get. These include memberships for fitness clubs and gyms, yoga and meditation classes, and coverage for therapy.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication
Synchronous communication happens in real-time, like when you’re chatting with a coworker in the break room. Office communication is typically synchronous, so you’re expected to answer emails and phone calls as soon as you receive them. This may interrupt your deep, focused work block for something trivial.
Remote teams use asynchronous communication, which doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone. Virtual coworkers don’t expect an immediate response to an email or project update because that employee may not be working the same schedule. They may respond in the next hour when they’re out of deep work or the next day if there’s a time zone difference.
💡 Check out these guides to level up your remote communication skills:
- Asynchronous Communication Examples, Tools, & Workflows
- Working Remotely Across Different Time Zones: Best Practices and Tools
Bonus: Having asynchronous communication skills on your resume is a perk both hybrid and remote companies value.
The Social Aspect
Though office life is rife with distractions, it does offer a social aspect you can’t ignore. You can celebrate birthdays and company milestones together (as well as commiserate over demanding clients). You also have opportunities for small chats with coworkers you rarely Slack.
Nicole Miller, the Director of People at Buffer, says, “Connection and teammate engagement in a remote environment requires twice the effort of in-person workplaces [*].”
So if you want to score high emotional intelligence in the workplace, you have to translate your people skills to the virtual space (which you can learn more about in that linked guide). Build rapport with coworkers by attending virtual team events and sending over kudos for jobs well done.
It’s also a good idea to find your community when working virtually. Luckily, it’s easy to make friends, land dates, and be more social when you work remotely like this.
In-person meetings and brainstorming sessions may be more engaging. But louder voices can also dominate discussions and make it challenging for other ideas to gain traction.
Remote collaboration usually occurs via virtual team meetings over Zoom or Skype or with the help of project management tools like Trello or Basecamp. The best practices for leading effective virtual meetings give everyone a voice without wasting time.
Check out this guide on How To Collaborate Productively When Your Team is Remote for more on this topic. Then move on to these six tactics to improve remote collaboration when you’ve covered the basics.
The Work-Life Balance
A healthy work-life balance ensures ample time for work, family and friends, self-care, hobbies, and everything else you do in a day. An unhealthy work-life balance typically means all work and zero time for anything that brings you joy.
Most office workers feel being stuck at the office for the majority of their day makes it impossible to schedule doctor’s appointments, fulfill family or child care obligations, or have time to themselves.
So a better work-life balance is the main reason why people choose to work remotely [*]. Bad news? Remote employees work 10% longer than their office counterparts, or about four hours more weekly [*]. They’re also less likely to take vacations than office employees.
These bad habits eventually spiral into higher stress levels and all the signs of burnout. So why does this happen?
Because the most reported challenge associated with remote work is unplugging after the work day [*]. Working from home blurs the lines between “on” and “off” time. You tell yourself you’ll only work another 10 minutes, and then it quickly snowballs into another hour on the clock.
To prevent this sticky situation:
- Learn how to set healthy boundaries at work remotely
- Set a clear start and end time for your workdays (and stick to it!)
- Stop taking breaks the wrong way
- Let your team know when you’re off the clock
- Silence and never answer work messages during your off-time (unless it’s an emergency)
- Take time off from work without feeling guilty
Those steps can help you achieve the healthy work-life balance you’re seeking and deserve.
So Which is Better, Work From Home or Work from the Office?
Now that you know the biggest differences between working from home and the office, you can leverage these pros and cons to thrive in either location. But you might also want to ditch the office forever and prepare to land a fully remote career.
While we totally agree with that decision, don’t quit your job without a plan; do this instead.
For now, check out which companies now allow their employees to work from home permanently. And start browsing 100% remote jobs on We Work Remotely to see if your dream job is just a few clicks away.
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