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The office vs working from home - What works for you?

In 2020 the way we work has been turned on its head, and we have had to embrace remote working options more than ever before. With working from home now the norm, and the prospect of going back to the office full time on the horizon in 2021, we are discovering what actually works for us.

Working from home is not new business, however thanks to Covid and an ever-changing digital workplace, there has been an urgent shift to remote working that everyone, bar essential workers, has had to make this year. By mid-lockdown in April the Office for National Statistics estimated that nearly half of people in employment were working from home in some way (there were predominantly white-collar office workers). Considering that, prior to the pandemic, less than 30% of people had ever worked from home.

With the British Government hoping for a quick return to the office when the pandemic eases in order to help the economy; is pushing everyone back to the office full time the best idea when we have become so in-tune with working from home?

Pros and Cons of working in the office:

Focus is almost always the biggest problem in corporate offices. While being present at work and being near your colleagues to discuss any issue from big to small will always be beneficial - this also comes up as being one of the cons for physically being in the office, as it's harder to disappear, leading to a greater chance of interruption. However, team work makes the dream work, and one clear disadvantage to not being present in the office is that it can become harder to keep tabs on your team's progress - or lack thereof.

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If there is one thing we can all agree on, it has to be that the WiFi at home is just not the same as in the office. In the workplace, we typically have greater access to technology, impromptu interactions and a stronger sense of cultural connection. According to a study of over 1,000 remote employees by Twingate, remote employment is causing workers to lose a sense of work/life balance during the pandemic. Their findings included that 40% of employees have experienced mental exhaustion from video calls while working remotely, and that 59% of employees felt more cyber secure working in-office compared to at home.

Pros and Cons of working from home:

Recent analysis of attitudes around home working at Cardiff and Southampton universities revealed that 88% of those who worked at home during lockdown want to continue doing so in some respect. The biggest relief that employees have found working from home is the lack of a commute. Not only is it good for the environment, but the lack of a commute allows us to catch up on extra z’s, exercise or a walk in the fresh air without rushing on a busy tube or train. Time is valuable, and if given a choice, the option of working from home to avoid the commute will trump going into the office, everyday.

Differentiating when the working day is over has also become a problem we didn’t have previously. When we used to leave the office at the end of day it almost certainly meant that work was over. But, now that the office has moved to your home, the line has come far more blurred. Working from home has meant that we are missing out on those small interactions that we would normally have with our colleagues in the office. WFH can often feel isolating, and according to new research, almost half (46%) of UK workers have experienced loneliness while working from home. On top of this there are often communication problems with colleagues, it can be harder to switch off, and we have quickly realised that concentrating during a global pandemic isn’t as easy as we thought it would be.

But, there is an alternative

Previously it was the norm for employees to work remotely or from home once a week, and to tackle tasks that couldn’t be done in the office - either because of noise and an overflowing schedule of meetings in person. After having been placed under not one, but two lockdowns, office’s have had to tell employees not to come in, and with the cost of renting office spaces when we’re working by ourselves, it is proving to be an unnecessary expense.

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Tally allows employers and employees the possibility to work remotely from co-working and hospitality venues. Teams are able to book meeting rooms, hot desks, and private offices that are locally or city central, whatever works best for each individual. By setting yourself up in a co-working of hospitality space where and when you need, you'll be able to improve your productivity and remove the association with working within your home. You and your company can save money with a low-cost alternative to renting, you’ll be able to pay a flat monthly subscription to use Tally and stop anytime. With the hospitality industry taking a large hit during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, you can help out your local cafe and restaurants, all you need to do is choose where you want to work, out of the growing venues we have. Working from home isn’t always ideal, providing your team access to a wide range of environments with unique facilities and perks – perfect for productivity.

So, which camp is right?

Sarah Kessler at Quartz believes, “Probably both. And neither. There’s actually only one right answer to the question of whether employees work better at home or in the office, says Ben Waber, the CEO of the workplace analytics company Humanyze and a visiting scientist at MIT: It depends.” For employers, keeping their employees productive and motivated is paramount. There is no denying that the way we work has changed, and with flexible working on the rise, now is a good time for businesses to prompt employers to think about how their workspaces can be used differently and more effectively. The office could become a space for convening and group thinking, while the home or remote working, could become a site for undisturbed and productive work. Let’s start making the decisions.

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