Office vs. Home Office

In a few days my parental leave comes to an end and I will go back to work. This will confront me with the question how much time I want to spend in office or work remotely. Time for reflection.

The situation

Before Corona, we were allowed to work one day per week remotely. In reality, this flexibility did not exist. Working from home was considered as an additional day off.

During Corona the perception changed and the responsible parties came up with a new agreement. The 40/60 rule allows us to spend the majority of our working time remotely (60%) and expects us to come to office on two days per week - on average. The new reality is that there are people working in office almost 100%, while others are barely present. As long as everyone is happy - I think this is a great compromise.

Working Remotely Pros

I became a big fan of working remotely when I was in consulting. Every morning I commuted 90min to office, put a headset on and was in customer meetings for the following 8 to 10 hours. Seeing colleagues? Maybe for a 30min lunch break. Maybe. Most times someone was still in a meeting and couldn’t join. Still, our manager wanted to us come to the office. He needed to see his sheep. Corona came, and - big surprise - we got the job done from home, too.

Also in my current job working remotely comes with a lot of advantages. My commute distance is roughly 250km, working from home safes me three hours of time - one way.

In addition, my team is located in three hemispheres. We are barely in the same room and thus need virtual meetings anyway. What is the benefit of driving around just to put your headsets on?

Plus, I can concentrate better when alone in a room instead of an open-plan office. But, being honest, that was my pre-parental experience.

Finally, I like the setup I have at home better. The chair is more comfortable, the screen larger, the keyboard more precise and the coffee tastes better.

Office Pros

On the other hand, being in the office with colleagues is undoubtedly beneficial. There is the social interaction (something I really missed beginning of 2020), the spontaneous meetings in the cafeteria or the elevator and of course the overhearing of conversations that might influence your own work. It’s easier to jump into an ongoing conversation instead of thinking who might be a good person to contact for this particular problem.

I also like having the possibility of after-work gatherings. Talking with colleagues out of the office, pushed me into buying my first automatic watch.

Further plus, you always have someone to have lunch with. For me, this is really important. Sitting alone in front of a meal - most likely doing something on the phone while eating, does not sound like an enjoyable lunch break to me.

And not to forget, if you work in office someone else pays desk, chair, mouse, keyboard, headset, electricity, internet, etc.. The additional room to work from in your apartment is not needed which easily saves ~500€/month in the region I live.

Final thoughts

One of the few advantages of Corona was that we could try working remotely. For me and many of my friends it wasn’t a realistic option before. And it seems that there are different types of people, some can work perfectly on remote locations, some need the office to separate home and work more clearly. I hope we can find ways of working that are flexible enough to fit everyone’s needs so that we can concentrate on what’s important and are not distracted by the circumstances.

My current approach is that I spend most of the time working remotely and try to meet all domestic colleagues once per months in office for a couple of days. Getting the best out of both.

P.S. In my omnivore I saw, that Kev wrote about this, too.


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