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Why it pays to stay: The case for working at the office

Is working from home actually beneficial to company culture, workflow, and career advancement?

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We all know that the internet and other technology platforms are making it easier than ever for people to be geographically separate and still be in constant communication—yet this reality is posing a major challenge for business leaders and employees alike. We’re all being forced to answer the question: Is it better to work from home or from the office?

This is a decision that can deeply impact everything about an organization, from office culture to workflow, and it’s one that more and more employees (and employers) are being faced with: a 2016 Gallup Poll found that 43% of employees in the United States now work remotely in some capacity.

The jury’s out

Many studies have been conducted to determine whether it is more beneficial for employees, and even managers, to work from home or from the office. Unfortunately, no consensus has emerged from the data: a European retail bank that hired Humanyze to analyze its office layout found that sales teams that interacted face-to-face in an office outperformed those that worked remotely. Meanwhile, a 2014 Stanford study found the opposite to be true, concluding that “home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment).”

Back office

Studies contradict each other when it comes to which among working at the office (pictured) or from home is more advantageous for employees. (Photo by Phil Whitehouse via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0)

The arguments for working from home are compelling. Those who work from home often spend significant time and money commuting, and the work-from-home setup can be very helpful for working parents. Furthermore, some work doesn’t require physically being in the office.

Yet, there is a strong case to be made for working at the office most of them time. We can’t help but agree with Tom Gimbel, Chief Executive Officer of staff and recruiting firm LaSalle Network in Chicago, who says that when you spread your workers out too far and wide, “you start to get an erosion of corporate culture.”

Here are some benefits of working at the office:

1. Networking opportunities

Boss

Interacting with your boss personally can help them see your potential in leading a team or even the company. (Source)

When you’re working at the office, it’s much easier for your manager and company executives to see your true potential—your productivity, dedication, and thoughtfulness will be front and center. Socializing with higher-ups provides the opportunity to showcase your leadership skills and build meaningful connections with successful players in your field. This in-office interaction time is especially beneficial when it comes time for managers to make promotions and give bonuses.

2. Elevated company culture

Spending time with colleagues at work can bring a sense of comfort in the office, which will lead to more ease in sharing ideas and opinions. (Source)

When you spend valuable time with your co-workers, that social foundation makes it easier to voice your ideas—and maybe more importantly, your dissent. It is harder to form genuine relationships with co-workers over the phone, and as an adult, the office can be the primary place for people to form friendships.

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3. More creative content

Meeting

Exchanging ideas and collaborating with co-workers personally will speed up the process of communication and create a better, more creative output. (Photo by WOCinTech Chat via Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

Many professional roles require a high degree of collaboration and open discourse. Having a physical presence in the office encourages quick and spontaneous idea sharing (and eliminates frustrating miscommunication). The creative content that emerges from this off-the-cuff exchange of ideas is often what distinguishes a brand from its competitors.

4. Teamwork makes the dream work

Teaming up working at the office

Working with colleagues at the office can quickly resolve an issue or challenge a co-worker is dealing with. (Source)

When you physically work alongside your coworkers, it is easier to step in and offer a helping hand to resolve issues that your team members are struggling with (and vice versa!). It is much more challenging to keep tabs on your team’s progress—or lack thereof—without the physical proximity that an office affords.

5. Work-life balance

Relaxing at home

Working at the office will not disrupt the relaxing aura of your home. (Source)

Although working at home sounds like a luxury, it can actually do more harm than good to your work-life balance. Your home should never become a place of stress, but rather a source of rest, relaxation, and family-building. When the line between work and home becomes blurry, it can become more difficult to leave the frustrations of your work life behind you at 5 PM. Likewise, the distractions of daily life can become harder to ignore when you’re confronted with them throughout your work day (cue crying babies, noisy roommates, and your favorite midday TV show).

As COO, Remy directs all internal and client-facing operations for L&T Co., a brand publishing company with offices in New York City and St. Louis. A founding member of the Columbia University Startup Lab, Remy has overseen the precipitous growth of L&T's full-time staff and client base since joining the company in 2014.

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