Office vs remote - pros and cons of remote work
DateMar 31, 2020
Remote work is becoming quite popular, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. More and more employees are starting to work remotely, either just for a few days a week or full-time.
In this blog post, I will cover some of the advantages and disadvantages I experienced in these last few weeks during which we shifted from full-time in-office work to full-time remote work due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
So, let’s dive into them.
Pros of working remotely
Not wasting time and energy on the commute
I would highlight this one as a really powerful advantage because everyday commuting can sometimes be quite challenging and exhausting, especially if you live far away from your office as I do. Traffic jams, overcrowded public transport, and nervous people can affect your mood in a bad way and cost you a lot of time and energy.
Imagine spending that time and energy doing something else or just doing nothing at all – whatever tickles your fancy. When you’re working remote, that’s exactly what you can do!
Working hour flexibility
Flexibility could arguably be a double-edged sword and, if not treated responsibly, it may have a negative impact on your productivity and focus. Nonetheless, the good thing is that you can organize your schedule according to your personal obligations and needs, and coordinate it with your circadian rhythm – maybe you’re an early bird, maybe you’re a night owl.
Even more importantly, making your own hours means that you can figure out when you are most productive and fresh, and work during those times – just keep in mind to also respect your coworkers’ schedules.
In my case, I usually work in two phases, the first one is in the morning after I wake up and do my morning routine (stretching, breakfast, tea/coffee, etc). Then I take a longer, 2-hour break around 2 PM during which I prepare lunch, do a power nap if needed, relax a little and enjoy so I am fresh to do all of the remaining work afterwards.
This schedule is not always the same and varies from day to day, because as a student I don’t usually work for 8 hours every day, so it heavily depends on my college obligations and meets/calls I have to do at certain times. But, what I have noticed is that my productivity is much better when I do something in two phases with a long break in between.
Creating your own working ambiance
Working in the office doesn’t always come with a complete freedom to arrange your working environment however you like. For example, when you’re working from home, you could find the most comfortable place, wear clothes that you feel the most comfortable in, play some background music, adjust lights and temperature to fully fit your needs etc.
All these small things can improve your mood, comfort and, in the end, productivity. A little pro tip – easy background jazz or ambient music, subtle desk light and the smell of incense sticks or candles work super fine (at least for me).
We all know that unpleasant feeling of fatigue just after the lunch and imagining how perfect it would be to just lay down in stillness and close our eyes for a moment. When you’re working in the office, you usually don’t have a dedicated space for power napping – but you have one at home. So if you’re working from home, I find that taking 20 to 30 minutes of power napping (don’t go any longer as you might start feeling sluggish) really refreshes you and gets you back on track.
Being your own chef
Compared to food delivery, cooking at home not only saves you money, but it also gives you a chance to experiment, improve your cooking skills and make your meals more diverse and healthier. We’re three weeks into this remote work and I can honestly say that I’m starting to get really good.
Cons of working remotely
Communication, collaboration and social contact
Although there are many online tools for communication and collaboration nowadays, I think nothing can really compare to face-to-face communication. For me, it is much easier to communicate something, especially some harder topics, when I’m right next to someone. Also, if you are working in a team, I feel it is much more convenient to be at the same place because of the “team energy” and that in-person aspect. And you can also resolve issues and help each other much quicker.
Now that we’re full-time remote, we had to come up with a few things to keep that team energy high. At our office, we have a giant terrace where we all used to go on breaks – since we’re no longer at the office, we created a Hangouts meet called “virtual terrace” that’s open all day. You just need to turn on your webcam, join and you’ll always find someone there – it’s a great solution to help you hang out with others if you need more of that social contact while you’re working from home.
Office energy and finding motivation
The office has that powerful ability to put you in a working mood almost instantly and give you an extra boost of motivation. Working atmosphere created by you and your other colleagues, as a result, has a positive impact on your focus, productivity and team spirit – as opposed to working from home, where I found out that it’s much easier to fall into the trap of procrastinating. That’s why it’s important to create a home atmosphere that will keep you focused and motivated – like the one I described up in the pros section!
New kind of distractions
While an office has its own set of unique distractions, it is a fact that you’re very likely to experience distractions while working remotely. This can include distractions like your family (especially if they’re bored and don’t work), household noises, pets, video games, etc.
Luckily, some of them can be reduced to a minimum just by communicating your working schedule to others living with you, and kindly asking for some piece and quiet. Just as I did with my parents by asking them to not produce loud noises during my working hours and to basically pretend that I’m at the office – that means no disturbing with unimportant things they wouldn’t disturb me with if I wasn’t at. home in the first place.
And now the conclusion
All the above-mentioned advantages and disadvantages depend on perspective, personality, and circumstances, which may differ from person to person. It’s only important that you are aware of them – to be able to find what suits you the most and create an environment in which you feel most productive and comfortable, whether that’s the office, your home or maybe something completely different.
Last but not least, for those who are struggling with remote work and are forced to work from home, like many of us are today because of the COVID-19 outbreak, checking out Mario’s blog about remote working tips might be helpful.