Here at Notable.ca and among our young professional circle, we have recently discussed the benefits of working from home versus working from the office. With the rise of entrepreneurial endeavours and the advancement of communication technology that makes “cloud offices” increasingly possible, some YPs have found their place of living and work is the same. Software such as Skype, Google Docs and DropBox is designed specifically for collaboration and communication via computers.
In other professions, even if there is in fact a physical office present, many employers are allowing their employees to work from home and even provide laptops to do so. For over a year, Workopolis has launched a campaign to build support for the concept of telecommuting in Canada and establish a national work from home day. The campaign has gained support from some politicians on Parliament Hill and, according to Workopolis, more than 77,000 people have joined the movement.
We came to the general consensus that there are merits and drawbacks to both and that it really depends on the individual and the circumstance.
Working from home saves money that would otherwise we spent during our daily activities. Workopolis estimates the average Canadian wastes $3,000 a year on costs associated with working away from home. These may include the obvious like parking, public transportation, coffee, lunch (have you ever added up every little expense throughout the day or week?), to other things like clothing. There is no need for a suit or other formal business attire when working from home. Some YPs may find themselves more productive when working in casual clothing. For the females, money is saved in grooming costs, too, in things like makeup, hair products, constantly replacing hosiery and even disposable contact lenses.
Save headaches of commuting
A main source of stress for many YPs is commuting, whether driving through tedious traffic or taking public transit, which can be unreliable at times. Especially if you are among the masses who travel the bus, subway and streetcar lines during the typical rush hours, we don’t have to tell you how frustrating it can be to have a jam-packed vehicle pass you by and leaving you to wait for another.
For the driver or taxicab addict, city traffic and endless urban construction can be enough to have an already stressed young professional in a wound up rage before he or she even arrives at the office. Once that is shaken off, the thought of bearing the traffic at the end of the day may be a lingering thought on your mind as the afternoon comes to a close.
Working from home saves time on things like commuting, getting ready and unnecessary workplace distractions by co-workers. Of the Canadian YPs asked, the average time getting ready in the morning was 45 minutes. The average time spent in transportation both ways was 40 minutes. That’s almost an hour and a half of time that could be spent on work, if all you had to do was walk to your home office, desk or even dining room table. Although there are other distractions in the home, there are more uncontrollable distractions in the workplace. These include things like juniors asking for help, unnecessarily long lunch breaks, banter with coworkers, and the list goes on. Workopolis estimates the average Canadian wastes 182 hours a year working away from home.
Allows for Muti-tasking
Working from home allows for ample multi-tasking. Things like laundry can be done at the same time as you work, packages can be delivered, and a woman can let her hair air dry (without freezing outside in the winter months) while typing away at her computer. Instead of taking an hour lunch break at the office, you can take 15 minutes to run to the neighbourhood dry cleaner, the bank or anything else to avoid the busy after work or evening times.
Working from home offers increased flexibility, which can actually increase productivity. As writers, we understand the value of putting work aside for a few moments and taking a walk, running errands or grabbing a coffee then and coming back to it with a set of fresh eyes. If two hours are lost during an appointment during the day, they can easily be made up in the evening. In addition, more and more business are increasingly running on a 24/7 cycle.
Feeling of Isolation
Especially for social young professionals, working from home can be isolating, lonely and not very stimulating. Some homebound YPs may find valuable work hours disappear to social interaction on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook and even BlackBerry messenger in an attempt for some sort of human interaction. One fellow YP described working from home as feeling cut off from society and the world around her, especially since she lived outside of the downtown core.
Loss of face time with partners and co-workers
Sometimes, the best form of communication is face-to-face. Brainstorm sessions, for example, are always better around a table with people as opposed to over the phone or through written forms of communication. In general, young professionals like to be surrounded by other driven and energetic young professionals and the best way to feed off of one another’s passion, energy and ideas is usually in person.
It is difficult to physically network with people when you are at home. Chances are that if you are working from home in the first place, securing clients and business is important. Though these days much networking can and is done through social media channels, it is not the same as face to face. Even things like drinks with coworkers or last-minute post-work industry events allow for the opportunity to meet all kinds of people that may result in beneficial business relationships.
Some young professionals swear that they can’t get anything done at home. Whether the comfy clothing or the relaxed environment play a role, many YPs physically have to work from an office. They find themselves easily distracted by things like the fridge, cleaning, television and even visitors. Some find it healthy to have a separation between home and workspaces, and a subsequent shift between “home mode” and “work mode.” YPs may find that the physical absence of their boss results in less accountability and therefore less pressure to produce.
So, what is the consensus? We found that young professionals, in general, would like to be in an office and surrounded by like-minded peers than working from home all the time. They do, however, appreciate the option of working from home from time to time. This is especially relevant on days where there are after-work events that would otherwise require scrambling to get ready and changing in the office bathroom, days where the weather would make their commute even more daunting, or simply when it makes more sense.