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).”
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
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
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.
3. More creative content
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
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
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).
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