The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in the so-called “New Normal”, a more cautious life of face masks, social distancing, and better personal hygiene. Part of this “New Normal” is Work From Home (WFH), which came with the realization that the majority of office jobs can be done at home or remotely. In light of the “New Normal”, people are now being given the choice of whether to WFH, continue working from office (WFO), or a combination of both (known as a hybrid setup).
However, this is a serious decision to make since it can affect your productivity and, potentially, your salary.
Here are the pros and cons of WFO and WFH:
The Pros and Cons of WFO
1) Follows a rigid, structured schedule
WFO follows a rigid, structured schedule, with work hours at nine to five or nine to six. At 12 noon, you have lunch breaks and then coffee breaks at 10 am and 3 pm.
For individuals who prefer order and routine in their working day, WFO provides predictability in every aspect of their work. Having a schedule also allows them to adjust their energies for impending deadlines and to submit work requirements on time.
2) Office is conducive to working
The office environment as a whole is conducive to work. Companies provide their employees with the furniture, computers/ laptops, and other devices and supplies needed for office work. Many companies also divided their work spaces into cubicles to allow privacy for each employee while they work.
3) You can count on support from bosses and co-workers
With WFO, you are assured of getting support from bosses and co-workers alike. Any problems with tasks assigned can be referred immediately to a co-worker or a manager for a quick resolution. The holding of meetings not only allows for the airing of difficulties or potential challenges in certain projects, but also the sharing and brainstorming of creative ideas in order to get any high-quality work accomplished within the required amount of time.
4) Access to office resources
Working in the office means having easy access to various resources and, no, we are not talking about the wealth of office supplies. Many companies offer a database of information related to their business. Much of this information can be obtained at the click of a mouse on the computer or through stored archives. This information can be vital for the completion of certain projects or when doing back traces or analyses of past accomplishments and deficiencies. It is also more convenient to check clients’ information because of the security of data.
5) Having a regular salary
Any office worker can tell you that the main advantage of WFO is the assurance of a regular salary, which is based on the employee’s level of education, knowledge, skill, and experience needed to perform their job. There is also the promise of various benefits, such as health and retirement benefits.
6) Potentials for career growth
With WFO, there are potentials for career growth. This is usually commensurate with an employee’s experience and accomplishments in their jobs, but employers also look for other qualities such as leadership and good social skills. Some companies provide advanced training opportunities in the form of seminars and conferences.
1) The daily commute and hidden costs
Those are WFO can tell you that the biggest con is the daily commute to and from the office. Whether driving to the office in a car or taking public transport, the horrendous rush hour traffic can eat up two to three hours of a working day. It can also physically and mentally exhaust an employee before they even reach the office.
WFO also comes with a number of expensive hidden costs. For those who drive, they have to spend for fuel and regular car maintenance. If the office has a strict suit and tie policy, there is the need to factor in the costs of dry cleaning and other laundry services. For employees with small children and pets, day care can also prove to be very expensive.
2) In-office stresses
If the daily commute is already stressful, employees also have to deal with in-office stresses, such as demanding bosses and annoying co-workers. Those who are overworked in the office can suffer from burnouts. There is also the stress of office politics and the potential for in-company sabotages which can prevent an employee from going up the ranks.
4) Sedentary lifestyle
Being in the office promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Because of the demand for work to be finished on time, employees often opt for cholesterol-heavy take-outs. Those who do dine out prefer the fast foods served in the cafeteria or nearby restaurants. Since they are exhausted during their work week, it is so easy to find excuses not to exercise. Add in the stress of the workplace and it is not surprising that office workers are prone to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, back and joint problems, etc.
5) Toxic work environment and the demands to adapt to company culture
There are cases wherein an employee finds himself/herself in a toxic work environment with too much work and the burden of strict, demanding employers and unfriendly co-workers. It can also be very stressful if the company values run contrary to theirs. Such working conditions can be very demotivating for some employees.
6) Difficulties in time management
Having a rigid schedule also has its drawbacks. Some work or projects are needed immediately so that an employee has difficulty in managing the time to finish, not just demanded tasks but also their regular workload. In some cases, regular work is sacrificed for the completion of urgent tasks which may prove detrimental for the long run for employees seeking promotions.
The Pros and Cons of WFH
1) No more commuting and reduced costs
With the elimination of the daily commute with WFH, employees now have an added two to three hours to their day which they can use for their work or for personal time. They have also started to see savings from commute/car costs and day care services.
2) Increased productivity
With longer working hours, there is increased productivity among WFH employees. There is also a reduction in absences because employees are now more capable of seeing to their family’s health and well-being as well as their own.
3) Greater flexibility
Many WFH employees enjoy the greater flexibility that the status allows them. They can now work at the times that they are most productive. In addition, not only can they attend to family emergencies immediately, they can make up for work time lost by working in the evening or in the graveyard shift.
4) Improved work life balance
For many employees, WFH has led to an improvement in their work life balance. Unlike before wherein they are cooped up in the office, there are fewer concerns about the welfare of their kids and other family members because they are at home and ready to tend to their needs. For those who are single, they can juggle work and their favorite hobbies and activities in the same day.
5) No more in-office stresses
WFH employees will be the first to say that they don’t miss having their bosses breathing down their necks or jealous colleagues looking to sabotage their work. They are enjoying the independence and autonomy that comes with WFH and are capable of delivering more work faster and in better quality than when still WFO.
6) Improved networking
WFH helps employees to widen their networking. They are no longer confined with the relationships they build in the office. They can now collaborate with other remote workers as well as connect with people in the same fields as they through LinkedIn and other career platforms.
7) Potential for greater income
WFH does not mean that an employee needs to be restricted by company work. They can now offer their services as freelancers to potential clients. Others have decided to start their own home businesses, such as online selling, food, etc. This means larger incomes aside from their regular salaries.
8) Promotes a healthy lifestyle
With WFH, take-outs and junk foods can be eliminated. Employees can now cook healthier meals and snacks at home. Plus, they can use the added hours from the elimination of the commute to exercise, yoga, and other fun physical activities.
1) Longer working hours may lead to burnout
Some WFH employees wrongfully believe that they are obligated to work longer hours and take on heavier workloads. Even employers have the tendency to contact their employees outside of their designated WFH working hours to demand work that needs to be done. Sadly, such a scenario puts the employee at risk of burnout.
In these situations, employees should review the terms of the WFH policies that they have signed and stick to the approved working hours. They should also practice time management and be more mindful of the tasks they can accomplish within their working hours.
2) Hidden costs of WFH
WFH also comes with a few hidden costs. Certain renovations may need to be done in the home in order to set up a work station, including the purchase of additional furnishings such as a good desk and ergonomic chair. A good Internet and phone subscription may be required. If the company does not have a VPN in place, employees may need to subscribe to a VPN service as well.
It is important for the WFH employee to know which costs can be reimbursed by the company.
3) Isolation and loneliness
WFH employees have complained of feeling isolated from their workplace. Others say they feel lonely and miss the interactions with co-workers. Some also complain about the lack of support from their bosses as well as the inability to access office resources especially when doing projects.
Holding virtual meetings is necessary not only to maintain solid relationships between employers and employees, but also to provide the needed support for the completion of vital tasks. Employers may schedule face-to-face meetings or fun events to boost morale and motivation.
4) Stresses from personal life
While the stresses from in-office may have been eliminated, a WFH employee can experience stress and distractions from their families and relatives. They are also more exposed to negative news on TV and social media.
To lessen stress from family members, it is best to set ground rules especially during work times. Stop watching the news which may aggravate existing stress.
5) Salary concerns
WFH offers concerns about salary and income. More than a year and a half into the pandemic, there is still a question on how to compensate WFH employees. Some employers are thinking of switching salary rates based on the nine-to-five schedule to work output instead. Others prefer to pay based on hourly rates. A number of companies have decided to make salary adjustments based on geographic location (the higher/lower the standard of living in one area, the higher/lower the salary will be).
6) Uncertainties for career growth
WFH employees fear that they may not be able to rise in the ranks of the company, especially those who have been working in-office for a number of years. Employers need to look into ways by which career growth and promotions can still be done in a WFH setup.
These are the pros and cons of WFH and WFO. If you are uncertain about your decision whether to go for WFH and WFO, you should assess your current life situation (do you want a regular salary to meet financial obligations), your working style (do you work best in a structured schedule or do you prefer flexibility), and your office relationships among others to make the best choice for you.