Working from home versus the office: it is not just 3 months extra holiday

Today I will compare working from home versus working in an office. I have experience now with both so I am an expert in this field. This is what I think in any case.

 

For 18 years I’ve always worked for a company. My main work location was the office. There were occasional trips, travels and visits but the majority of the time was in the office. The time there was mainly spent behind the computer and in discussions with bosses, staff members, co-workers, suppliers or customers.

 

Now for more than 8 months I am working from home. Even though the time I spent in offices far out weights the time I’ve worked from home, I can still make a good comparison of the pro’s and con’s of both situations. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

The main advantage of the office is people. You meet people in offices and that is great. You do not just meet them via email or on the phone, but you can actually see their face, shake their hands and see how they are not only when you are talking to them.

 

Having people close around you can also be one of the disadvantages of an office. They come to you when they want not when it fits you best. At home, you can work much more undisturbed then when you work at an office.

 

Not having this un-scheduled, un-planned, direct interaction with your co-workers, except via the disturbing chat-messages that pop up on your PC, is also one of the biggest drawbacks of working full time from home. These interactions provide new ideas, provide opportunity to check ideas and assumptions and provide the social human contact that is so appreciated by most of us.

 

Working from home can save a lot of time in commuting. Suppose it takes you about an hour in the morning and about an hour at the end of the day to get to work and back. That is the equivalent of about 12 40-hour working weeks. 12 weeks! That is about 3 months or a quarter of a year. Thus, ideally you could have 3 months more holidays every year by working from home. I know it does not work like that, but still.

 

It definitely does not work for me like that since we are living in a location in a city where we have to bring our daughter to school every day. And that bringing to school replaces the commute perfectly. So, no 3 months holiday per year.

 

Another aspect of working from home is that you are more flexible with your time. You decide when you work. You work when it fits you best. That is great. But there is also a downside. It also means that you can work all the time and any time.

 

It requires discipline not to start the day with turning the computer on and quickly checking email before going to sleep; even on weekends. Thus discipline is required not to be overwhelmed. But it is the same as with a Blackberry.

The ideal for me would be to work 2 or 3 days per week in an office and the other days from home. It is not even required to have the flexibility to switch these days around every week. The opposite is more true. Most people like a steady schedule. Knowing up front that you spend every Tuesday and Thursday in the office and that you would work the others days from home sounds for me like a very good solution.

 

It would be even better if both office and school are 10 or 15 minutes walk away from home. If that is the ideal, I ask myself, what do I need to do to realize that dream.

 

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working at home is ideal for introverts, while the office for extroverts.