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The Work From Home vs Office Debate: Where Are We Most Productive?

If 2020 was the year of being stuck at home whether we liked it or not, 2021 is the one where the work from home vs office debate really ignites.

So... where are we truly more productive?

Before last year, working from home was seen as the preserve of small business owners, techies and freelancers. Now that much of the population and most businesses have had a taste of this totally different way of doing things and pandemic related restrictions are gradually being lifted, will we stick to it or return to our traditional places of work? The answer to this question will be different depending on the country, industry and company you work in. You may even have a say in this yourself if your employer decides to switch to the hybrid work model that is gaining traction around the world. In that sense, it’s important to get a handle on the work from home vs office debate as you aim to maximize your productivity by getting the best of both worlds.

Based on your personality, life circumstances and what you do for a living, you probably already have a decent idea about whether you prefer remote work, time in the office or a combination of the two. In case you’re still deciding or are simply interested in the nuances of this debate and how it might affect us on a societal level, here are some things to consider:

Choice of directions

Remote work isn't the promised land after all

Before the events of the last year, many of us dreamed of having the ‘freedom’ to avoid heading into an office or a traditional workplace every day. After all, who doesn’t want to avoid traffic and spend a little more time around the people they care about? Unfortunately, when our idealized versions of life come up against reality, there is only ever one winner.

It’s certainly true that many people have coped well while working from home. According to a recent report by Microsoft, over 60% of business leaders (who skew towards Gen X and Millennial males), have reported “thriving” during the pandemic and related lockdowns. In contrast, members of Gen Z, women, frontline workers and those just beginning their careers reported struggling much more during this time. If you’re single and have scraped by on minimal physical contact with others or have young kids that have been kept home from school and needed help with online classes you’ve likely felt the strain of being home all day much more as well.

For many, the novelty of being able to raid their own fridge between meetings and work in their PJs faded quickly. On the other hand, the difficulties of building new habits, focusing through increased distractions and making due with less opportunities to collaborate and socialize only became more acute with each passing day. Despite the clear difficulties people have had adjusting to working from home, productivity levels largely remained the same as they were pre-pandemic. However, that’s not the whole story. Workers have consistently reported increased stress levels and feeling overworked.

In that sense, it’s fair to say that the enforced switch has been far from a resounding success, but that doesn’t mean remote work is dead in the water.

 

Working from home brings distractions

The office will never be the same again

While the experience of working remotely hasn’t exactly inspired a permanent shift away from offices, it has certainly exposed the unnecessary rigidity of our previous work paradigm. While many people miss connecting with their colleagues, having face-to-face collaboration time and simply getting the change of scenery that working outside of the house provides, nobody is queuing up to go back to the previous status quo either.

Traditional work schedules were already under attack by concepts such as the 4 day work week and the proliferation of online freelancing opportunities. Now, we know for sure that we don’t need to spend 40 hours or more each week in an office. While working on-site may foster innovation and camaraderie, there are also a number of ways that it diminishes productivity and well-being.

  • Long, grinding commutes are a scourge on our mental health and the planet. It’s fair to say this is one aspect of on-site work that nobody misses.
  • Even properly designed and well run offices have relatively high incidences of workplace injuries, while over 40% of employees admit to not telling their boss and coworkers when they’re sick for fear of mockery or lost opportunities.
  • While it’s true that having your family around (especially kids) can be a distraction, there are also real benefits to all involved when families get to spend more time together.
  • It’s also important to differentiate between working from home during a pandemic and a future where this happens by choice. Children will be back at school and public spaces will reopen, both of which will provide remote workers with more options and greater flexibility.
Nobody will miss long commutes

In short, there are solid arguments to be made for both sides in the work from home vs office debate. Luckily, we don’t have to choose between them. For once, it may be possible to have our cake and eat it.

The era of hybrid work is upon us

The last year has taught us a lot about work and productivity. We’ve confirmed our suspicions about our old work paradigms needing a reboot, while also realizing that we’d be throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we ditched offices entirely. It’s in the space between these two facts that a new idea has been born. The concept of hybrid work is simple yet powerful. It allows us to get the best and avoid the worst of both worlds. It also provides the kind of flexibility that allows each unique organization and individual to design their schedule in a way that works best for them.

How this can best be done is still up for debate. Synchronizing in-office time to allow teams to collaborate and innovate together is vital. It’s also important that new employees are given a chance to integrate themselves by making face-to-face connections with their colleagues and superiors.  The shift to hybrid work will also demand a redesign of our workspaces. Offices will need to be downsized and individuals will need to commit to creating a dedicated workspace in their home or finding a suitable co-working space near to where they live. 

Hybrid worker

Increasing productivity with FocusMe

When it comes to the work from home vs office debate, the deciding factor will always be productivity. As we’ve already seen, there are multiple factors at play and many nuances to the discussion.

But what if there was a tool that could increase productivity no matter where it was employed?

That’s where FocusMe comes in. Whether you’re a remote worker who is looking to take back their attention or an employer who wants to guard against digital distractions for their entire on-site team, FocusMe is the most powerful and effective software on the market today. You can learn more about how it works here, or get started right away by clicking the big shiny button below (don’t worry, we’ll still explain everything)!