The most beneficial aspect of working remotely is that you can work from home. There are many pros and cons to working from home. On one hand, you can save a lot of time, energy and money by not having to commute to the office. On the other hand, you will only be able to communicate with colleagues virtually, which can be lonely. Let’s go over the top 10 differences between working from home and working from the office.
1.) How you spend your time
Working from home might free up time in some ways, but also consume more time into other ways. When working from home, you don’t need to commute, stop for gas, or waste time trying to find a parking space. Just wake and walk to your desk.
The time savings when working from home might start small, but the accumulative amount of time saved may add up to hundreds of hours over the course of a year. That’s time that can be spent with friends, family, or just getting more rest.
Working remotely also means that you may work in a different timezone. Depending on the time difference between yourself and the team, this might mean that you start work early in the morning or late at night.
But there isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll save time when working remotely. Sometimes you will actually be expected to stay online longer to help resolve an incident or get through a crunch.
2.) Social life
Working at the office is more social than working from home. You have numerous spontaneous opportunities to meet new friends and associates. Lunch breaks and company events can serve as icebreakers when meeting new people within the company. It might even help with upward mobility if you seek a job promotion or transition.
But when working from home, you can only meet your colleagues virtually. You have to take your social life into your own hands. You’re not going to randomly bump into a colleague from another department. In a way, working from home is mostly pure work, and not much else in terms of extracurricular activities. For some people, that’s a good thing. For others, it can cause feelings of isolation.
Working from home means that you have to take your social life into your own hands. While it’s entirely possible to do so, it can be tough for introverts.
Working from home (as en employee) is more flexible. You are still generally required to work 40 hours a week for a full-time remote job- same as a standard office job. But you might be able to work in a different timezone- perhaps in an entirely different country than your colleagues.
It’s an amazing thing to be able to live wherever you want and keep stable employment. It means that you have more options to create the best life for your family. There’s a strong correlation between salaries and location.
A computer programmer in Northern California can make from $60k to $150k salary and beyond. But the sky-high cost of living and taxes in those areas almost cancels out the financial benefits. When working remotely, you can make a good salary while living in a low-cost area- making it the smarter economic choice.
4.) Tools and Workspace
If you work from an office, you will likely be assigned your own desk space and a computer. Electricity and internet all come with the package. If you have issues with your system, then a local IT person can help you fix it quickly.
But when working from home, your office environment is entirely your own responsibility. At first you might think that sitting on the couch with a laptop for 8 hours a day can work- it won’t work. It’ll be uncomfortable and unhealthy. You will need to setup a home office space with a good chair and reliable internet.
Most remote companies offer either a stipend payment for you to purchase your own gear, or they offer to let you lease their own hardware. At the end of the day, it’s your choice how you want to set up your work environment.
5.) Work/Life balance
When you work from an office, there is a clear line between work life and personal life. As soon as you step into the building, it’s time to work. Once you leave the building, then work is officially over until the next morning.
But when you work from home, the lines between work life and personal life are sometimes blurry. Since different team members work during different schedules and in different locations, you might receive a message at any time during the day or night requesting you to come back online- even if you’re officially “done for the day”.
6.) Communication and Collaboration
When it comes to communicating and collaborating with teammates, there are fundamentally two different ways to go about it: synchronously and asynchronously. In an office you are most likely going to work synchronously, meaning that multiple colleagues meet at the same time to work together. But when working from home, you will more likely work asynchronously, where different team members will contribute to a project or discussion at different times of the day.
When working from home, you will use online messaging services like Slack to asynchronously communicate with your team most of the time. If you ask a question via Slack, you probably won’t get an immediate response back from your colleagues.
You have to learn how to maintain productivity even when you have only partial information. There are numerous scenarios where your work might become blocked because of missing information- and the person you need to reach out to is not online because they work a different schedule. Remote companies have become very good at solving this issue by incorporating good project management and team processes.
But one way or another- whether you work in the office or at home- there are times where the team needs to meet synchronously so that everyone is caught up with the same information. In the office, you’d book a conference room and have everyone meet there. But when working from home, you’d likely start online video call via Zoom and have your colleagues join the call.
When you work in an office, you will most likely live in the same city as your employer. The paperwork is pretty simple and straightforward.
But when you work remotely, you might live in a different state or country than your employer. The paperwork might potentially get complicated, depending on your legal place of residence. Your location of residence will affect your income taxes and perhaps other legal aspects of your employment.
Employees of a different nationality are generally hired under “contractor” status and are required to handle taxes on their own. Domestic employees are hired as official “employees” of the company- allowing the government to withhold taxes before paychecks are given.
8.) Mental Health
Commuting to an office and having in-person contact with colleagues is great for mental health. It provides a sense of structure to your day and many opportunities to socialize.
But staying cooped up in the house all day, only communicating with colleagues virtually, can be detrimental to your mental (and even physical) health. If you work from home, it’s important to maintain structure in your life, actively socialize, and don’t forget to stay physically active. There are a number of ways to maintain your mental health during these times.
9.) Job Opportunities
There are certain types of jobs that you just can’t do remotely. You can’t be a construction worker from home, nor can you be a mail delivery driver from home.
Remote jobs are almost entirely digital. This includes computer programming, graphic design, digital marketing, and writing. So naturally, the number of remote job opportunities is far less than the number of non-remote jobs.
Does that mean that there is more competition for remote jobs? Yes and no. On one hand, having less remote jobs and more remote candidates would seem to suggest that the competition is high. But the reality is that most people don’t look for remote jobs, or even know that remote jobs exist! There are fresh new remote jobs posted every day. Check out these recently posted remote jobs, then continue reading:
Want to see more remote jobs? Check out the remote job search page.
10.) Interview Process
One of the big differences between an office job and a remote job is the fact that- with a remote job, you might never actually meet your boss in person. All communication happens virtually through emails, messages, and video conferencing. So as you might guess- it’s a bit tougher to land a remote job.
When you first apply for a remote job, the entire interview process is likely to be virtual. Just like a standard interview, you will be asked questions about your past experience.
But remote jobs tend to be more rigorous in how candidates are chosen. You might be required to do a small project in order to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Or you might need to take an online assessment test to measure your experience level.
Landing your first remote job interview is easy for some people and hard for others. If you have a good LinkedIn profile, then it will vastly increase your chances of landing a remote job interview.
What do you think?
Is it better to work at the office or at home? The 2020 pandemic has reshaped the landscape of working so that many jobs there were previously office jobs are now remote jobs. Check out our remote job search engine to find the latest remote jobs that you can apply to.