Working from Home vs. Working in Office: A Close Look into Their Advantages and Disadvantages
Even before COVID-19 barged into our lives in early March 2020, Canadians weren’t exactly strangers to the work-from-home concept. In fact, according to Statista.com, 20 percent of the working population were already working from home even in pre-COVID times. Of course, this number had an exponential growth following the government mandates to curb the spread of the virus in the country and everywhere else.
At the height of the pandemic, this number rose to 40 percent according to research by Statistics Canada. Out of those who have worked from home since the start of the pandemic, 80 percent said they’d rather not return to the office. Instead, they prefer to continue to work from home, though some were agreeable to a hybrid set-up where they can work from home for a few days a week and only head to the office for pertinent matters like client or team meetings.
Initially, there was reluctance for a majority of employers to allow remote work for their employees due to productivity concerns. However, a study by Tahsin Mehdi and René Morissette revealed that 90 per cent of respondents reported their productivity was on par as to when they worked on the business premises.
In fact, some employees reported that remote work even increased their productivity levels as they didn’t have to deal with the commute to go to work. On average, employees gained back 35 per cent of their time because of working remotely.
Working from home also allowed employees more opportunities to achieve a better work-life balance. Since they primarily stayed at home, they got to spend more time with their loved ones. This was especially important for those with kids as they were there with them for online study sessions and other school-related or extra-curricular activities. For some, this also meant saving on expensive day care costs.
Because of the flexibility, remote workers also enjoyed the benefits of taking breaks when they can or indulging in homemade treats like a cup of coffee or baked goods whenever they felt like.
For animal lovers, being allowed to work from home also led them to go for something they held off for so long because of the time spent at the office and commute to work: adopting a pet. It’s said that nearly three out of ten Canadians decided to be a pet parent during the pandemic. Pets are effective in alleviating stress, especially work-related.
Working from home is not without its challenges, however. There was the issue of the limitations to build team rapport online and the lack of social interactions because virtual meetings often were reserved to discuss work-related matters. The lack of watercooler talks to exchange chats on weekend activities or TV shows one’s currently binging on were being felt by employees who were used to enjoying these small talks during their office breaks.
Because of the lack of social interaction, an article in The Atlantic reported that some people shared they were prone to feeling isolated due to fully remote work.
No Delineation Between Work and Home
In the same article, some people also claimed that mixing work responsibilities along with personal ones while they were working from home also took a toll on their mental health and caused them stress and anxiety. The overlap sometimes led to distractions and resulted in loss of focus. Some also felt burned out because they tended to work beyond the normal office hours.
When working onsite, you’re able to turn your full attention to work. And when the clock hits 5:00 p.m. and your colleagues start to leave, you’re also motivated to leave on time and leave the tasks for the next day.
Remote work versus office work will always have its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, it’s up to each person to find workarounds to ensure that either option offers them an ideal work environment, so they can fulfill their duties and tasks efficiently while practicing self-care at the same time.
Brooks, Arthur C. “The Hidden Toll of Remote Work.” The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/04/zoom-remote-work-loneliness-happiness/618473/.
Broom, Douglas. “4 ways to revive office socializing when working from home.” World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/revive-office-socializing-work-from-home/
Burr, Britanny. “New Study Reveals The Reasons That Canadians Don’t Want To Go Back To Working In-Person.” Narcity. https://www.narcity.com/going-back-to-work-heres-why-canadians-dont-want-to-go-back-to-in-person-work#toggle-gdpr.
Caramela, Sammi. “Working From Home Increases Productivity.” Business News Daily. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15259-working-from-home-more-productive.html
Evans, Pete. “As employees return to the office, the much-hyped hybrid model faces acid test: Does it work?” CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/hybrid-work-office-return-1.6393222.
Jeudy, Lucie. “Distribution of work in home office or at workplace before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada as of 2020.” Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1230526/remote-work-policies-before-and-after-covid-19-in-canada/.
Langton, James. “StatsCan reports numbers on working from home.” Investment Executive. https://www.investmentexecutive.com/news/research-and-markets/statscan-reports-numbers-on-working-from-home/.