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Andrew McCallum
Andrew McCallum

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Work From Home or Work From the Office. Which is Better?

With the recent changes in the way we are working, there has been an influx of opinions, beliefs, and points of views about if working from home is better or worse than the the daily routine of going into an office. Well let's look at both sides of the coin.

Positives for working from home

  • Time and money saved not commuting to work
  • Save money on not eating out and buying coffees
  • More flexibility of working times (start early / late) and can duck out for life admin or go for a power nap at lunch time
  • Don't have to be in the city centers / flexibility to travel

Positives for working in the office

  • More social interactions
  • Better divide of work and home
  • Better collaboration with colleagues
  • Less distractions from family / children

Both situations seem to have a lot going for them but let's face it, not everybody benefits from all these factors evenly. Time and money saved on a commute is only beneficial for those who live far from their work and already spend a lot of time and money on their daily commute.

Not everybody eats out for lunch when they go into the office. A lot of people already bring their lunch, whether they've made a sandwich at home or brought in last night's leftovers. You don't need to be working from home in order to stop buying your lunch each day.

Work time flexibility is only awarded to those who don't have to align their work schedule with their colleagues. A lot of us are in meetings all day and need to collaborate with others. This leads to having to align our work day to the normal 9–5 hours.

Not everybody relies on work for social interaction. A lot of people live with friends or flatmates which are able to provide the social interaction required each day. There is a school of thought that relying on social interaction that is determined by your employer and where the strongest common bond is your company's bottom line, can be placing a lot of reliance on your employer. On the other hand, some of my best friends I hang out with to this day are people I have worked with.

Creating a divide between work and home is not as important to everybody. Some people like to be able to do a couple of hours of work and then recreating by reading a book, playing PlayStation or going for a walk. Sure, their work day might be a bit longer but being able to duck in and out of work for recreation time is preferred by some people.

The ways in which we collaborate is changing drastically with online tools such as Zoom, Slack and Teams. And every type of job has different ways in which they are able to work together. Software developers are able to take advantage of Github to share and review eachothers code or Visual Studio's Live Share for pair programming. I know programming has always been the poster child of "remote working" but these technologies are paving a way and hopefully inspire similar tech to be used in other fields.

Lastly, as we have probably all witnessed, children and family unexpectedly walking in on Zoom meetings. Looking after children and taking care of the family, whilst trying to work from home can be quite a balancing act (so I've heard). But again, if you live by yourself or in a flat share, this is unlikely to be an issue for you.

Everybody has different living and working situations. There is no one size fits all when it comes to working conditions. So rather than trying to get everybody to adhere to one standard, why not provide the option. Some will choose to be fully remote, some fully in the office or some will choose a mix and work some days from home and some in the office. I know I would love the empowerment of choosing my own working conditions.

I wrote this article at the end of 2020 but only just getting around to posting it now so I appologise if anything has changed

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