At my new job I’ve had the opportunity to work from home more than a few times. I really like it. However, I also really like that I’m close enough to go into the office and physically interact with people, too. It’s the best of both, I think, in that I can work in-office and at-home. There are benefits to both.
Benefits of Working at the Office
Connections with Coworkers
I like working in the same physical space as coworkers because I think it helps me to know them better than I would otherwise. It can be tough to get a good idea of someone through text and voice alone.
I definitely know the people I work with better because I’ve been in-office and I’ve both participated in and observed interactions. The second part is important — with text and delayed communications, you’re mostly seeing what you participate in. In-office, you see the way others interact with each other, and it helps you get a good read on people.
It definitely also helps with the little things my coworkers want to ask and need to know. There’s more of an information exchange in real time, and I can offer immediate, hands-on help a little easier.
Attending the Small Stuff
I think it’s a little easier to attend to a bunch of little stuff at the office. It feels easier to jump from small project to project, and definitely easier to help coworkers when they’re right next to you. I have enough broad experience that I’m more useful than most people whether you sit me in front of a router or a text editor (and also enough awareness to know when I’m in over my head and need an assist!). It’s definitely easier to troubleshoot and support people when you’re physically in a room with then!
People buy you stuff sometimes, and grabbing that little perk is super nice. It’s easy to forget, but if you work exclusively at home, nobody else is picking up your occasional coffee. Everything is on you.
Shorter Hours, Comparatively
When I’m in the office, I’m in by 10:30 at the very latest, out by 6 most of the time. I don’t like hanging around the office much later than 6 or 7 PM. At home, though — I might start really working around 11 or 11:30 and not stop until 9 at night, depending on the project (it’s easy for me to get sucked in). This is neutral for me, personally. Sometimes it’s best for me to shove 9 or 10 hours in a day into a project and then just do a shorter day at the end of the week. This is because it’s easier for me to shove a bunch of hours into a big project than space it out — your mileage may vary, naturally.
Benefits of Working at Home
As much as I like making connections and knowing my coworkers, I’m an introvert all day every day. It is, by definition, draining for me to be around other people. Being at home, the workday is just less tiring. At the end of an at-home workday, I’m actually ready to leave the house (even if it’s just to go to the store for five minutes). Conversely, coming home from the office — the absolute last thing I want to do is expend more energy on people.
Personally, I’m at least twice as fast working from home. This is pretty simple math: I have two computers at home, one of which is a desktop with two large monitors and a mechanical keyboard. At work, I’m on a laptop. I type slower on its keyboard, and its smaller, single screen hinders me. I feel slower on a laptop.
I can also do things on both computers, if one of them is something I only have to pay occasional attention to (e.g., running through a wizard that takes a while between different steps). At work, I’m restricted to one computer — so if I’m trying to work through something that takes over the whole computer or slows it down or whatever, I can’t just switch to the other computer.
Also, all the internets are mine and everything is lightning-fast at home. Big downloads are noticeably slower at work, especially.
I find it’s much, much easier to get into deep concentration at home. I’m guaranteed not to be bothered save an absolute emergency, thanks primarily to respectful housemates and a decent flagging system that lets everyone know when I’m working and shouldn’t be disturbed. I’m much more physically comfortable at home — I have my chair, my desk, the temperature exactly as I want it. Most important of all: obnoxiously loud music.
For me, too — when I’m around other people, part of my attention is usually on them. I think this is partially being an introvert (I am always on alert for the next impromptu conversation!) and partially having ADHD (pretty much anything can distract me). When I’m at home, it’s a lot easier for me to let go of my surroundings and forget where I am and what I’m doing other than what I’m working on.
Specific stuff I’ve noticed: I can do CSS, HTML, and basic WordPress administration with someone standing at my shoulder gawking and asking questions the entire time, no problem. For anything more complex than that, I need to be left alone and not interrupted, with either music on my headphones or silence. Otherwise work doesn’t get done on that more complex stuff, unfortunately.
Living in New Jersey, this absolutely has to be mentioned. I don’t commute far — only within the same county, three exits on the Parkway. Going to work is rarely bad (primarily because I have to be there at 10 AM — rush hour is mostly over at that point). Any NJ commute avoided is good, though — it’s nice to not have to drive at all. This is especially true in winter on bad roads.
Cat. Lap. All day. That is all.
I suppose, in short — I like being in-office when I have lots of little things to do. Tons of different accounts to bounce around, lots of little fixes, meetings? Best to do these in-office — especially as I can lag between tasks at home. I notice myself more prone to checking personal accounts between “little tasks” at home, whereas in the office I’m always looking for the next thing to complete.
By contrast, if I have to do some kind of project, it’s important for me to lock myself away in a cave. I know it’s a complete stereotype, but for me it’s painfully true. I do need to cultivate a lot of concentration to do my best work, and the environment that works best for me is the one that’s completely my own.