For employees who are used to going into an office every day, the new adjustment to working at home can take some getting used to. However, if the home office is treated as an in-office environment, the transition can increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
So the question is, how does working from home (WFH) compare to working from an office? What common elements do the two environments share, and what are some differences that cannot be avoided?
Let’s discuss some of the comparable and differentiating elements between working from home and working in an office.
Elements Common to Work from Home (WFH) & Working in an Office
For a successful transition of working in an office to working from home, there are several elements of working in an office that an employee should adopt. If you are working from home, you should treat your job as if you were in the office. This means you need to maintain the same level of professionalism and continue to meet company standards.
Here are some common elements of working from home and working from an office:
- Start on time, end on time.
- Dress for work, whether you are traveling to the office or working from home.
- All time worked is time paid; rest periods and meal periods must be taken appropriately.
- Since you wouldn’t sleep at work, you shouldn’t sleep while you are supposed to be working at home.
- While working from home, work quality and productivity should be as good (or better) as working in the office.
- Terms and conditions of employment don’t change, but there may be some additional facets for WFH that are different from working in the office (e.g., you don’t have to commute from home to work and back).
- The equipment you use should be directionally the same whether working from home or the office (e.g., you will use a desk, computer, mouse, keyboard, telephone, communicate with employees and customers).
- You continue to accrue benefits working from home no differently than when you’re working in the office.
- Customer Service is equally important whether working from home or working in the office.
- Employees are representative of the company, whether working from home or working from the office.
Elements Different to Work from Home (WFH) & Working in an Office
Although many elements of WFH are the same as working from an office, there are also several differences. Some of these differences may come as a challenge to some employees, while other differences are an added bonus. Either way, these differences need to be recognized and from the beginning.
Here are several key differences employers and employees need to be aware of when working from home versus working from an office:
- You don’t have to commute to the office while working from home.
- You won’t interact face-to-face with your supervisor and colleagues in the same way.
- You don’t have the same face-to-face communication.
- If you are used to going out for lunch, you may need to become a better chef as eating habits may change.
- Different support mechanisms (e.g., HR, IT, Finance) can provide support remotely, but far less so if you are working from home.
- You need to be extremely organized; your supervisor won’t be “stopping by” to see you (although they may be checking in remotely.
- Collaborative efforts can be more difficult; at a minimum, they can be different as you don’t have the same human interaction to provide “context” to support all the “content.”
- WFH can be more challenging for new employees and for organizations that are in their adolescence, as they often have less mature processes, systems, and technology tools.
- WFH greatly relies on the process, technology, and teamwork.
- Your pets, family members, and the occasional Amazon delivery happen at home, which normally doesn’t happen at work.
Many elements affect the transition to a WFH environment, and this list is by no means a complete list of similarities and differences. However, it does give a company and employees a set of elements that should be addressed during the transition.
Whether you are working in an office or working from home, the work environment needs to be conducive to the employee’s work performance. By understanding the commonalities and the differences between working from home and working from an office, the employee will be in the best position to be more productive, efficient and provide the highest quality of work.
* All work environments are different; nothing in this document is intended to provide financial, tax, legal, or business advice but represent some of our experiences while working from home (WFH) and working in an office.