Remote Work Vs. In-Office Work: Which is Better?

In this post-pandemic world, many organizations and employees alike are asking the same question; is it better to work from home or the office? This article will shed light on both options' various advantages and disadvantages.
Some companies have refused to pick a side. Instead, they have adopted a blended approach to the "remote work vs. in-office work" debate. A hybrid business model that reflects the best of both worlds by allowing for flexible remote work options that support the organization's structure and goals and also the employees' health and happiness. Please note that this article will only compare remote and in-office work.
 
While you may, in fact, find that a hybrid approach is the best answer to the question - which is better? We strongly you to carefully compare the two options side by side.
 
How will you remain productive and support workers' health and happiness in this new work era? We have split the debate into five key influences that effect a business or employee's decision; financial impact, productivity and efficiency, management, collaboration, flexibility, and the work environment. Listed below are some pros and cons to consider when faced with the question of which is better: remote work vs. in-office work?

Financial Impact

Money is the most influential factor to check when considering remote work vs. in-office work and how that financially impacts employees and employers alike. 

remote work financial impact

Remote Work Pros:

  • No sitting in traffic means more time that could be spent earning money
  • No temptation to go out for happy hours or spontaneous lunches with coworkers
  • Spend less money on “work” clothes
  • Lower operational costs for employers (office rent, purchasing and maintaining office technology and furniture)
  • Use savings to scale your business (hire more help, give more employee bonuses)
  • No physical barriers to company growth (new hire placement, building space)
  • Access to remote talent can stabilize costs (hiring costs based on locations vary, Ohio marketing manager vs. New York marketing manager)

Remote Work Cons:

  • Personal utility costs increase
  • Must invest in quality internet connection
  • "Start up costs" for telecommuting technology
  • Some typical WFH expenses include: desk, chair, network routers, monitors

in office financial impact

In-Office Work Pros:

  • 401k investment options

  • Insurance benefits

In-Office Work Cons:

  • Commuting (gas, parking maintenance expenses, or public transit costs)
  • Employees are more likely to pick up lunch vs. packing
  • Conveniently grabbing a coffee on the way to work 

Productivity and Efficiency

According to research, there is a clear increase in productivity in Remote Work vs. In-office work. However, there can be a learning curve for increasing productivity and reducing distractions at home. 
remote work productivity

Remote Work Pros:

  • The nature of remote work doesn’t encourage chatting with coworkers

  • Heightened autonomy for employees over daily tasks and schedule

  • When employees are happy (work-life balance), they are more satisfied with their work, which increases employee retention 

Remote Work Cons:

  • An increased need for self-discipline for remote employees

  • Research proves that work-from-home employees work more hours than onsite workers.

  • Hiring can be strenuous for managers with the inability to gauge remote work skills separately from individual employee skills

  • Employees will have to use technology and software that is new to them (a simple learning curve, but technological adaptability is crucial for each individual)

  • An increased turnaround time on any IT issues due to dispersed team members

in office productivity

In-Office Work Pros:

  • Management oversees most of the day-to-day operations ensuring productivity remains high

In-Office Work Cons:

  • The office space contributes to many distractions (commute, coffee breaks, longer lunch breaks, etc.)

Management

remote work management

Remote Work Pros:

  • A wider candidate pool enables you to find people with skills and knowledge that might not be common in your area

  • Diversification of personnel 

  • Increased cultural literacy 

  • Various regional and cultural backgrounds help promote creativity and innovation

  • The global reach that helps promote brand recognition 

Remote Work Cons:

  • Ensuring subordinates will work efficiently

  • Employees tempted to work more than one job

  • Managers are concerned because they’ve never had to manage a remote workforce

  • As a manager, the temptation to micromanage may still exist when employees work from home

in office management

In-Office Work Pros: 

  • Easier to check in on employees onsite

  • They can go up and ask questions face-to-face

  • Daily check-ins to support employees

  • Whiteboard meetings to keep everything and everyone on track

In-Office Work Cons:

  • Conversely, hiring from different areas means ensuring your business complies with legal requirements.

  • Minimum wage rates and payroll requirements vary.

  • Micromanagement of employees (lack of autonomy) can lead to employee frustration, leading to an increase in employee turnover

  • Harder for managers and supervisors to assess which employees deserve a raise or a promotion 

Collaboration

remote work collaboration

Remote Work Pros:

  • Work from anywhere

  • Believed in delivering a more dynamic kind of teamwork

  • Less likely to have "office" drama 

  • Less time spent commuting means more working hours for employees

Remote Work Cons:

  • F2F is the preferred communication method (insert stat), and the lack of this communication can harm workers’ mental health (and the ability to collaborate efficiently)

  • Harder to communicate and bond when dependent on technology

  • No spontaneous interactions

  • Technical issues with communication platforms can hinder productivity 

  • The conversational tone is tough to decipher online

  • A reduction in teamwork due to the team being split across various locations

in office collaboration

In-Office Work Pros:

  • In-office events (birthday parties, happy hours)

  • More brainstorming and exchanging ideas

  • Increasing team strength and openness

In-Office Work Cons:

  • Normal day-to-day operations of an office can cause drama 

    • Ex., one department has to work every day until 5 while another department leaves work early every Friday

  • Employees' motivation to work with team members could be negatively impacted due to increased by response time due to waiting for a response

Mental Health/Flexibility

remote work mental health flexibility

Remote Work Pros:

  • No commute stress and more quality time for yourself as a remote worker (sleep a little longer, hobbies, exercise, able to get an early jump start on work, if you need to take off a little earlier)

  • Unlimited PTO (most of the time)

  • Tailor your day to your specific needs (work and personal life)

  • Work from any location with a good internet connection

  • Able to keep up with household chores eases the stress of having to do them on the weekend or in the evenings

Remote Work Cons:

  • Must adopt a new regime for morning/evening to switch in/out of work mode 

  • With no commute, employees are logging longer working hours which can lead to burnout

in office mental health flexibility

In-Office Work Pros:

  • Commuting to work can serve as a mental transition period for employees when they work in the office

  • Set schedule by management ensures productivity remains high

  • Separation of work and home contributes to a healthy work-life balance

  • Others packing up to leave signals to you that you should also be wrapping up/shutting down for the day

  • Many companies offer some form of company-sponsored health programs to help with insurance rates (classes, on-site workout facilities)

In-Office Work Cons:

  • Most modern-day employees expect some form of remote work, which means companies must remain flexible and be willing to adapt work policies to incorporate remote work options 

Work Environment 

remote work environment

Remote Work Pros: 

  • Enables you to set up your optimal home office or workstation (comfort)

  • More casual (comfortable) work attire is acceptable

Remote Work Cons:

  • Employees will opt for cheaper office equipment if they are responsible for setting up their home office themselves, which may lead to long-term ergonomic challenges

  • Employees have reduced interactions which leads to boredom and feelings of loneliness 

  • In-consistent work environments for employees

  • Potentially unsecured wi-fi network

  • An internet connection issue at home can cause interruptions to work

  • No staff on-site to assist with technology or equipment malfunctions

  • Power outages leave many people unable to work or connect with the team

in office work environment

In-Office Work Pros:

  • Being surrounded by colleagues can build cohesion and more company attachment

  • Office basics are usually provided (desk, chair, computer, mouse, keyboard, etc.)

  • No FOMO (fear of missing out) because everyone is in the same place with the same opportunities 

  • Office work provides real-time feedback directly from your supervisor

  • The office (can) offer a stimulating environment where employees enjoy spending time which can lead to more creative engagement

In-Office Work Cons:

  • Employees don't have a personal choice in the office setting or work environment

  • More formal work attire or work-approved clothing for workers can cause financial and mental stress

  • Employees have less ability to decrease distractions in an office environment

The Office Oasis

Written by The Office Oasis