Making the choice of working from home or from the office is not obvious and requires some considerations. There are many pros and cons for each option, and you have to evaluate them before making the decision (or asking your boss permission to work from home). I’ve been working both remotely and on site for quite some time, and I have to say that while I am working from home now, there was times where working from an office was a better option.

Advantages of working from home

Below are the advantages of working from home based on my personal experiences:

  • Time. Time is of course the biggest winner when you’re working from home. Time spent going back and forth to work and taking lunch breaks can easily add to 3-4 hours per day. If you work from home, you can use that time to run your errands or to work on your personal projects, or perhaps you simply like to sleep a bit more in the morning.
  • Money. How much does it cost going to work? If you have never thought of that, I strongly advise that you take some time and list all the expenses that you have on a monthly basis just for going to work. These expenses include gas or transportation, car maintenance, additional clothes that you constantly buy to maintain your image, coffee and alcohol to make sense of your day (if applicable).
  • Less stress. I used to drive two hours every day for going to work. Even though I was doing a rewarding job, I can guarantee that after a while you start to feel the stress of driving in the traffic for two hours every day. This does often translate in poor sleep and a decrease in productivity and motivation. At the end of the day I was so tired that it was impossible to work on my personal projects.
  • Location independence. This is an advantage for both employers and employees. As an employee, you’ll be able to work from everywhere in the world (time zones permitting), and as an employer, you’ll be able to hire the best people in the world regardless of where they live.

Advantages of working from the office

Below are what are instead the advantages of working from the office:

  • Learning environment. Working with people that are better than you is a tremendous learning experience. I had the opportunity to work with some great guys and I learned a lot about my profession. It’s still possible to learn while working remotely, but in person is always a better option because you get to see how they really work and solve problems.
  • Social environment. If you work with people that have similar interests with you, chances are that you can develop some friendships there. On the contrary working from home can feel boring at times, especially if you prefer being surrounded by people than staying alone.
  • Team work. Despite the fact that many collaboration tools are now available, working from home is simply not an option if you want to work closely with one or more members of your team. Aside from those situations where physical presence is truly indispensable (almost all jobs that are not accomplished through a computer), there are some other situations where working together is a better decision.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to say for certain if working from home is better than working from the office. In my experience it’s a good idea to work as closely as possible with your team in the first weeks or months, but then you can move to a remote location and even increase your productivity while lowering costs.

You can also decide to go to the office only one day per week, or one week every two months. This works especially well for startups, where everyone is motivated to see the company succeed, and it doesn’t hurt to get together sometimes.

Keep in mind that having a clear list of things to do is always important, regardless wherever you’re working from home or from the office. You can easily procrastinate in both places if you don’t know exactly what to do.

The idea of working from your couch is of course more appealing at first, and next week I’ll share some tools that you can use to work remotely with the rest of your team.