In the aftermath of the pandemic, there are more remote workers than ever before. Employers are offering more flexible working arrangements outside of the traditional office setting. Many people wonder what the real differences are between working from home and the office environment. If you have the option, which is better: work from home vs. work from an office?
In this deep dive, we’ll look at the benefits of both environments to help you decide if remote work is the best move for your career growth.
Let’s take a closer look at both and which one is likely to make you happier and healthier.
Benefits of Work from Home vs Work from Office
First up, let’s take a look at the unique ways remote employees can benefit from spending their working hours at home.
Less Travel Time and Fewer Traffic Jams
How much time do you spend in the car, on the bus, or taking the subway to get to your office job? The average American spends about 55 minutes in transit to their job every day.
In addition to your normal eight-hour work day, that means you spend nine hours away from home every day.
Imagine what you could do with an extra hour or more of time in your daily schedule.
Not to mention, you won’t have to deal with the inevitable traffic jams, which are frustrating and often put you behind schedule. Even if you decide to work outside the home (at a coffee shop or coworking space, for example), you can choose closer locations and go during non-peak commute times.
More Flexibility in Scheduling
Have you ever tried to schedule a doctor’s appointment and found that your work schedule just made it impossible?
For remote workers, this is frequently a thing of the past. They have substantially more flexibility in their schedule. As long as the work gets done, most managers don’t actually mind when it takes place.
This also allows you to work during the hours when you are most productive. Night owls might prefer to burn the midnight oil on a major project.
On the other hand, workers with kids might want to start early so they can be off the clock when their kids come home from school.
Better Work-Life Balance & Better Social Life
Are you trying to achieve work-life balance and finding it hard when you have to spend your eight hours at the office? It might be easier than you thought: all you have to do is work remotely.
Not only do you automatically save about an hour in commute time, but you get to work when and where you want.
Studies are showing that remote work makes you happier. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, remote workers fared better than in-person employees on several key measures.
Their study found that remote workers scored higher in:
In addition, you might have more time for a social life outside of just your coworkers and acquaintances at the office.
If you want to break for lunch with an old friend or meet up for dinner, you have a flexible work schedule that allows you to make it happen.
Need another reason to make the switch to working from home vs. working in the office? You could save money — a lot of money!
It starts with your commute costs which can average $5,679 annually. Plus, you will have less wear and tear on your car and will need fewer oil changes.
Other areas where you can save money by working from home include office-appropriate attire and grabbing lunch with your coworkers and friends from the office.
It’s also important to think about your time cost when it comes to commuting to the office. Most people don’t get paid for the time spent in the car, which can really add up.
Calculate how much you could save commuting five hours each week at your regular hourly rate.
Improved Physical Health
While it can be easy to see how working from home benefits mental health, the effects on physical health might be a little less obvious. First, most remote workers have more opportunities to get physically active throughout the day.
Instead of spending a sedentary hour in the car commuting, you can get your blood pumping. It’s a lot easier to work in a class at the gym or an afternoon walk when there are no places you have to physically be present.
In one survey of people who have a work-from-home job, it was found that 77.8 percent of workers rated their overall health at an eight or higher. With less stress and more opportunity for movement, prioritize your physical and mental health.
Benefits of an Office Environment
While there are definitely some perks to working from home vs working from the office, some people may still prefer the office setting. Here are a few things that you might give up in order to have the flexibility to work from home.
Improved Teamwork and Communication
How hard is it to get in touch with your coworkers when everyone is working the schedule that is best for them? Collaboration on major projects may be easier when you can head to an actual office setting where you know where coworkers will be.
Office workers can often get more done on team projects if the work environment is set up properly.
Virtual meetings are possible for those who work from home, but it lacks the excitement and energy that you might find in the conference room.
If you’re the type of person who gets a lot of satisfaction out of your relationships with coworkers, you may still prefer working in an office. It guarantees that you have some social interaction in a way that working remotely doesn’t allow for.
More Structured Routine and Better Time Management
One of the hardest parts of working from home is structuring your schedule. Family demands and personal goals can hinder employee productivity. You will have to be strict about getting work tasks done at all costs if you clock in from home.
On the other hand, office employees have an inherent structure to their days. They know when and where their work will take place. Anyone can come to check up on them throughout the day and see how they are progressing on major projects.
The accountability adds an extra layer of motivation to get projects done on time.
Stop struggling to hold yourself accountable. Working in an office setting at least a couple of days a week can give you the time management needed to thrive.
Easier to Focus with Fewer Distractions
Working remotely has one serious downside: you can get easily sidetracked by all of the demands of your home life. Kids might need help with homework, a spouse wants to chat over a cup of coffee, and there are endless chores to get done.
Distractions abound when you work from home vs working in the office. You might have more job satisfaction, but are you really getting your main priorities accomplished?
Office spaces allow you to focus completely on the tasks on your to-do list. You won’t have the same freedom, but you will find it far easier to work.
Homework, housework, and relationships can wait until you are officially off the clock.
Working in an office allows you to take focused time to get your work finished.
Easier to Identify Work vs. Leisure Time
We already saw that working remotely allows you to have more freedom to explore hobbies and work-life balance. However, there is a downside to this, too: it might be hard to delineate your working hours from your leisure hours.
If you clock in and out throughout the day, how do you know when you are officially off the clock?
It’s easier to see the difference between work and leisure when you’re in the office. The hours you spend in your cubicle are dedicated to work. Once you hit the parking lot and slide behind the wheel, those hours belong to you and you alone.
In other words, you can shut off the part of your brain that is in work mode when you leave the work environment.
If you’re working from home, you might find it harder to put a stop to work at a certain time and transition to more personal pursuits or family time.
More Social Engagement with Coworkers
It’s true that job seekers often cite a desire to work from home because they can see friends more outside of the office. However, you might miss out on social engagement with your coworkers. This even has the potential to lead to a disconnect from your role with the company.
It might be your dream job, but a lack of engagement could make it feel less satisfying.
This disconnect could lead to less commitment to the role, which can stall career growth. Video calls will only get you so far, and you may not get an immediate response from a worker like you would if you were able to stop by their desk.
Employees struggle with this lack of commitment, and employee satisfaction may suffer when the only people you see all day are family members. Engaging with your team and your manager might be more valuable than many people think.
Are People Happier Working from Home or in the Office?
We’ve already seen that there are benefits to both working from home and working from the office. The question is: are people happier with at-home work, or would they prefer office work if given the chance to choose?
This is a controversial question, with people making powerful arguments on both sides. However, there is no denying what the early research is saying about happiness and overall well-being.
The verdict is in, and more people who work from home report more feelings of well-being over in-office work.
More than three-quarters of workers believe that remote work or hybrid work improved their well-being, with roughly the same number saying they had a better work-life balance. They had better interactions with their family members and greater engagement with peers.
According to the same study, an incredible 82 percent of people say working remotely made them happier.
Even the skeptics may want to give it a try to see if this working style could be a good fit instead of searching for an entirely new job. You’ll be able to spend more quality time with family and experience an influx of free time. You may just be happier for it.
Final Thoughts: Work from Home vs Work from Office?
Are you ready to think about how you can balance your office life and your personal life with greater ease? It might be time to make the transition between working from home and working from the office.
For many people, remote work allows them the freedom and flexibility they need. However, others prefer the structure of an office setting.
There are no hard and fast rules, but the data clearly indicates that working from home could be a powerful way to improve well-being.
If your current role doesn’t allow for working remotely, you might want to consider freelancing or getting a side hustle that does. Here are our best flexible work-from-home jobs that you might want to explore!