When the global pandemic hit, most of us were working from the office. More accurately, most of you – we at Archbee have been fully functional without sharing the same room from the beginning. After all, our mission is to best fit efficient communication and self-directed task management. So we had to do both, at the same time. We did it for science, and also because async is most convenient.
But while work from home was already in our blood, that’s not the case for everybody. Yet 88% of the organizations, worldwide, made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. So remote work had to become the new way of work.
Is it good, is it bad, is it ugly?
That depends on who comes up with an answer. But there are certainly pros and cons.
Let’s see exactly which, starting with the traditional choice: the office.
Is working in an office a blessing or a curse?
When you work in the office, you have many tools and resources to help you solve your tasks, right at your fingertips. There are other colleagues around to ask for advice or tutoring, which, very simply put, means all the answers you need are in the same place.
However, office work also has disadvantages. These may include the noise around you, especially if you work in an open space with multiple colleagues around. And that’s quite a frequent office space design, meant to promote teamwork and interaction. But at the same time, the fallback scenario is that it could cause you to lose focus or inspiration on what you are working on.
But there are merely details. The big, chunky, juicy benefits & disadvantages have more to do with what happens outside of the work schedule.
And speaking about schedules, this brings me to the first advantage:
1. Better time management ⏳
The moment you become a staff member in an office, you force your brain to work according to the time slot and the working hours provided. This routine will help you to organize efficiently.
2. The right mindset 🧘
You have a fixed place where to work from, each and every day.
When your eyes see familiar surroundings, the brain receives signals of relatedness and associates the setting with a past behavior. It then automatically links the workplace with a work mindset. And the power of habit, as you know, is immense.
3. Networking 🤝
Effective, honest communication can bind employees together. It’s the first major step towards building a good team. Employees who look forward to talking with their colleagues are more enthusiastic with their work lives.
So these are all nice perks but working from the office is not all fun & games.
There are some drawbacks as well:
1. Sedentary lifestyle 😫
This is the biggest problem you can have when working in the office, and it leads to a number of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stress. If you want office work not to affect your life, you must take frequent breaks and move, walk around as much as possible and try to do sports every day, even if only for only 15-20 minutes.
2. Monotony 💤
Considering the fact that you are always surrounded by the same people, that you usually do the same types of activities and you are in the same space, it is very simple for monotony to intervene, which is why some of you might not be advocates of this type of work.
3. Time wasted commuting ⏲️
People waste countless hours of their precious lives in rush-hour backups, and traffic has gotten so bad in major cities that there isn't really a definitive rush hour anymore. After all, time is money, and look at all that money being wasted.
Until recently, the solution seemed fairly inaccessible on a global scale.
But as remote work gained ground worldwide, it’s only fair to evaluate it as an alternative to the more traditional office work day.
Work from home: is it all milk & honey?
In the beginning of work from home, you might set up your HQ in the kitchen table, take regular breaks, fry an egg in between meetings, nibble on something from the fridge, mix the useful with the pleasant. Then the "pleasant" can easily become the main occupation: you take another look out the window, drink the second cappuccino and wonder where the day went.
And that’s a major no go.
But let’s first start with a look over the nice & shiny aspects of working remotely.
1. Work-life balance ⚖️
If we set a work schedule that does not exceed 7-8 hours (for vampires or werewolves, these hours can also be at night time), just as many as a normal office day would have, then the time gained after eliminating the commute can be used for other aspects of life.
What’s that thing you’ve been fantasizing over? Exercising, hobbies, some extra time with your loved ones? Now your dream can come true.
2. Freedom 🕊
Work from home means more freedom, basically. It means eating healthier because you get to cook lunch daily. I for one adopted a dog that I can walk in the morning and in the evening. This flexibility in making your own program will never be an option for office work, no matter of your role in the company.
3. Less stress 😇
Inevitably stress is reduced when you are in your comfort zone. And where could you feel more comfortable than at home? At home, our bodies feel freer and we can work from positions we can't try at the work desk. The mastery and management of work is suddenly in our hands.
Bonus, you get to practice once again the precautionary rules adopted by governments everywhere.
But, as a person who is more productive under stress, I can say there are some relevant downsides as well:
1. Procrastination 🤡
Procrastination is the number one enemy of a freelancer, but as a freelancer, if you don't work, you can't pay the bills at the end of the month. Unfortunately, responsibility for our own discipline can become a burden if we are used to someone else doing our program.
2. Solitude ❄️
The comfort we enjoy at first pushes our needs to reach dimensions that cannot be fulfilled within the walls of our homes - such as socializing. Unfortunately, Facebook, which will most likely funnel all our energy wasted procrastinating (am I the only one having a Deja-Vu with this word?), is not exactly a reliable context for interaction but actually works as the opposite.
It’s a personal authentic connection we miss. And yes, physical proximity is a must.
3. Burnout 💣
Since there are no clear borders between the personal and the professional, you will be tempted to treat days like hours and weeks like days and so on. Just as office breaks are important, so are home breaks. However, many people forget this aspect and focus a lot on work. It is important not to overwork yourself and to know that you deserve, from time to time, a break.
As I can’t emphasize enough: there’s no universal way that works miracles for everyone. So if you’re not yet decided which would be better for you, get a piece of paper, make a grid of 4 rows and 3 columns, draw the 12 emojis corresponding to the above-mentioned benefits & obstacles.
Afterwards, you can start crossing them out depending on their importance in your own life. Or at least, if you don’t seem to reach a conclusion, at least you will have taken a nice break and can get right back to work, either in your office or at home.