Is It Actually Better for You to Work Remotely or in an Office?

Although remote work life has become more popular in the past couple of years, the effects of COVID-19 have caused the idea to take off. The idea does not come without its controversy, but this new era has caused many employees to wonder if this temporary solution could become a permanent fixture for the workplace. 

Remote work, also known as telecommuting, is defined as a work arrangement where employees do not commute to the office for their job. This can be either a permanent position or a hybrid position where employees only work remotely part of their week. However, as we consider what college students want our workplaces to look like, it’s important to examine how both remote work and in-office work have their advantages and disadvantages.

Why people still like working in-office

Working in the office is what most people are used to. Most companies still function off this model — and there’s a good reason for it! The ability to work in-office helps keep the office connected, and collaboration is easy when your teammates are only a desk away.

In a survey of 900 employees by Paychex.com, 82% of in-office employees felt they could easily collaborate with coworkers, compared to 65% of remote workers. In-office workers also said they felt slightly more valued than remote workers. However, in-office workers were more likely to report that their environment negatively impacted their eating habits (by almost 20%) and were less likely to report that they felt happy in their work situation.

bright white bedroom with desk working space Photo by Gabriel Beaudry from Unsplash

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Why people love remote work

Some customer-facing and hands-on jobs just don’t allow for remote work, and not every company or position has the capacity to supply employees with the equipment they need to work remotely. For example, customer service, construction, and health professionals may struggle to do certain tasks outside of their office.

However, for those positions that do allow remote work, there are many benefits. From the same Paychex.com survey, remote workers reported better physical and mental health due to their work situation.

Latoya Settles, a media and communications major at SUNY Old Westbury, is currently working in a hybrid situation as a social media manager. She enjoys working from home because, “being in the office five days a week can cause burnout,” while remotely she has “the space and comfortability of her home.”

In a recent study by Buffer, 98% of remote working participants said they would like to continue at least some of their remote work during their career and 97% said they would recommend remote work to others. The majority of remote workers cited their biggest benefits to working remotely were a flexible schedule and the ability to work anywhere. However, the biggest struggles were lack of collaboration, loneliness, and the inability to unplug. 

Which style of work is *actually* better?

Clearly, there are benefits and disadvantages to both working in-office and remotely. So, which is better?

Perhaps, a hybrid of both. In this recent Gallup study, workers were split on whether they wanted to return back to work or not once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. 59% wanted to work remotely as much as possible and 41% wanted to be back in the office as normal. With a workforce so divided, it seems that the answer to this question is to weigh the pros and cons of each and see where remote work is applicable, and in-office work is needed. 

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It’s up to employers now to see these numbers and recognize that employees are ready for the next step towards the future. Over the years, balance, flexibility, and collaboration have all become key issues for employees to consider. Now that employees have gotten a taste of remote or hybrid work, it’s hard to imagine giving up all those benefits to go back to “normal.”

Many college students, including myself, have adjusted our internships or summer jobs to this model and are looking to continue in our full-time search after graduating. According to PwC’s recent Remote Work Study, US-based financial services firms plan to make the leap from 29% of companies having at least 60% of employees working from home at least once a week, to 69% in a post-COVID world. This is due to the discovery that employees can be just as productive at home as they are in the office, if not more. Over 70% of financial services firms surveyed found working from home to be successful during COVID-19. This is just one example of many industries that have decided to follow the same path.

These changes reflect the inevitable transition to the hybrid model after COVID-19 and the understanding that both employees’ wellbeing and productivity can coexist.