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Work at the office or from home? Why the answer can be surprisingly complex

There’s a battle unfolding over the future of the workplace – and, in many cases, the clash seems to be between employers eager for a return to office-based life and employees insisting that they want to continue working from home. Such arguing has erupted at Apple and Google, as a Medium article notes.

While both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have unveiled ‘hybrid’ work policies, where workers would be permitted to spend some of their work time in the office and the rest at home, some employees have still complained that these policies are not sufficiently flexible for their needs.

Still, it’s hardly a foregone conclusion that you could identify with these disgruntled employees. The work-from-home (WFH) life is not quite for everyone, and you could actually beclamouring for a return to the office. Here’s a more in-depth look at why the picture of remote working is not an easy-to-digest one.

What do research statistics say about remote working?

Do home-based workers tend to be more productive than their office-based counterparts? One study highlighted by Business News Daily suggests so. In this research, remote employees were found to work 1.4 more days monthly than those workers tied to the office.

These gains add to up to more than three extra weeks of work per year – but you should also carefully consider that 29% of remote employees have reported struggling with their work-life balance, while 31% said that they have had to take a day off work to help restore their mental health.

The takeaway, then, is that while working from home can indeed boost productivity, the widespread switch to a WFH routine could have –for many workers, at least – proved to be something of a double-edged sword. So, if you are currently trying to decide between working from home and working in the office, what choice should you make? The answer could largely depend on your personality.

What psychology says about the implications of working from home 

Does your mind often drift away from work matters when you try to work from home? As Timothy Pychyl, associate psychology professor at the Ontario-based Carleton University explains to the BBC, telework is a “weak situation” where expectations around behaviour are murkier – making procrastination more tantalising than it could otherwise have been.

Pychyl calls the office “more of a strong situation with expectations for many things such as dress codes, arrival and departure times [and] time spent on or off task.”

Meanwhile, if you are a highly social and extroverted person, you could easily miss the “water-cooler chat” of the office, says Leeds University Business School associate professor Matthew Davis.

For this reason, you might want to find something of a compromise between home-based and office-based working, allowing you to reap benefits of both. For example, if you run a relatively new company, you could rent a start-up space where you would be able to regularly meet face-to-face with professionals from other companies that also happen to be renting workspace within the building.

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