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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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Should You Be Working From Home in 2013 or 2014?

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This is a guest article contributed by Alex Morris.

In early 2013 Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, inadvertently shot Yahoo! to the top of media news stories after she issued a memo to the firm’s 11,500 US employees. It read, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home, we need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

The message was simple – working from home does not work. For a business to be successful, employees must be in the office.

Home Office

Mayer’s move caused quite a stir in the business world; many industry observers consider a modern progressive business, especially one in the technology and creative industries, to be open to the notion of its staff working away from the office.

Clearly Meyer doesn’t agree, but is she right to issue the ban? It’s a highly debatable issue and almost everyone in the business world has had a say. In this article we weigh up the contrasting approaches to working life, but is there a solution to this most contemporary of issues?

The Benefits of Working From Home

No more commuting:

For many hard done by office workers this would be the main bonus – losing the daily commute. Outside of getting a personal helicopter lift to and from work, the daily trips to and from work are often infuriating and insipid. The elimination of several hours a day of travelling would do wonders for stress levels. Along with freeing up time to concentrate on work, money would be saved from transport, and it would give everyone a lie in each morning.

Technology:

There is no hiding from the fact all the latest technology means a worker can easily perform their job from home. Where there’s a computer and internet access there’s the chance to connect with the world, and your colleagues.

A better working atmosphere:

The chances are many office staff will begin to annoy each other at some point – it’s just human nature. Any pent up resentment against other employees’ annoying working habits would no longer be an issue.

Employee health:

RSI, strained eyes, stress, poor posture, lack of proper food, and need of sleep make for many issues in working life. An employee, in theory, can manage such matters from home with regular breaks and properly prepared food. Office life often denies such luxuries.

Office Set Up

Work/home life balance:

Working remotely can reduce the way work dominates people’s lives, allowing more time to be spent on home and family life. When people work more flexibly they can have more time with the family and other issues, such as sharing the responsibility of childcare and engagement input into their children’s’ lives, can be managed more carefully.

Environmental benefits:

The drastic reduction of commuting has the potential to be very beneficial to the environment; the more people work from home, the less congested roads will be. Pollution levels will drop and city areas will become less hazardous.

Better productivity:

All of the above could well make home working a more effective way to take on a busy schedule. With the removal of commuting stress, and the added extra sleep, employees would be in the best condition to do their work. But would staff procrastinate?

The results would be evident in their level of productivity, so setting target-based objectives would be an effective way to maintain company expectations.

Office Set Up

The Benefits of Office Life

A socially creative environment:

Collective offices can be incredibly creative and dynamic places to work. Colleagues can bounce ideas around and inspire each other, hold impromptu meetings, and enjoy the trust promoted by face-to-face contact. Physically working alongside colleagues can create a lively business, and there is the potential for beneficial social aspects to boot.

Discipline:

Many people work best with the firm structure and routine that comes with office life, whilst some employers would find it important to have their staff on site for logistical reasons – Yahoo!’s Marissa Meyer being one.

A sense of community:

Working within a company can help foster a sense of community and supportive working environment. There can be other benefits of working in a company such as health care, insurance, and pension policies. The social aspects of office life can’t be ignored, either, as the banter of office life can provide a sense of security, as well as leading to positive relationships in, and outside, of working life.

Work/home life balance:

Some people find working in an office to be a more constructive approach to maintaining their personal life. Time apart from family can provide all the impetus needed to maintain a healthy home life.

Environmental issues:

If a large section of the workforce are working in isolation at home, supplying their own materials, individually powering their office equipment, heating their home, and cooking all their own meals, this isn’t ideal for the environment. Centralising it all in one office, where a firm can promote environmental initiatives, could be more constructive.

Office Set Up Four

The Best Approach For Your Business

Whilst these observations are generalised, and the reality is undoubtedly more complex, some forms of work are more suited for remote working, for example; graphic design, writing, computer programming, web design, and arts and crafts. So Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer’s ban must be seen in context: she has recently taken charge of a struggling company and is looking for solutions to make Yahoo’s business more effective. But this model doesn’t necessarily apply to similar companies.

If you run a business have a think and decide what’s best for your company. Would it be more effective for everyone to be in the office? Or does it not really matter? Experiment and see which suits your firm best. Business goals and targets are key, of course, but being flexible with your approach can have incredible benefits on stress levels and productivity.

The way we work continues to evolve and for many of us the best approach is likely to be one that mixes working independently, some of the time at home or on the move, at other times coming together for meetings, and working collectively in offices. Over the next decade we could well see the expected shift towards the majority of staff being off site, but for now it’s important to remember each staff member thrives in disparate ways. Pick up on these and promote whatever’s best for them. Your business could well flourish as a result.

How do you find working at home or at the office? If you’ve done both, what do you prefer and why?

Alex Morris is a writer for Cartridge Save in Manchester, England, where he writes about ink cartridges. Office life does have the benefit of social interaction, although he wishes we’d buy an office kitten. 

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36 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Bea Santiago Reply

    I have yet to work in an design agency to compare experiences but when I used to meet with other designers to work together in the same place I feel I wasn’t as productive as I am working remotely. Maybe that was just the chemistry with that group but I am definitely more productive when I work from the comfort of my home where I’ve prepared an area that help me boost my creativity and one of those boost is quiet and peace. With the right tools to keep in touch with everybody else and keep track of the progress, remote work is effective. I recommend tools like Trello, Team Viewer, Skype, an email account, and Dropbox.

    • Jacob Cass Reply

      Bea,
      I currently work at an office and freelance at home but have done both and would have to agree with you regarding the stimulation of having others around. One way to counter this would be working in a co-working space though.

  • May Reply

    Hi,

    I´m currently working at home, I´ve been doing it for 4 years, and in this time I´ve found out a few tricks:

    I believe that it´s necessary for a creative mind get some new inputs from people and space. Which means that even you´re working at home, maybe some days you can work from a library, or a coffe shop for ex. But it should be the same for an “office” worker! So if you´re working in a “liberal” enviroment or a co-working space it can be a reality, in other cases not.

    Sometimes sharing daily your work experience with couraging people can be the best thing that you´ve ever experimented. It´s the real learning, I miss it much, and it became to me one of my most important motivation to approach a new job, to be part of a team.

    At the end, working at home it´s something that you “always” can do, it an option, an alternative always present.

  • Shanna Cramer Reply

    I worked from home for 7 years and have had an office for the last 3. Each has its benefits. Working from home allowed me to start working earlier – 5:30 or 6am. Now I have to wait until I’m at the office, some days not until 8:30. It feels like half the day is wasted this way.

    On the other hand, an office is a much better place to have employees. Communication is easier when you can just walk over and talk to someone. The conference room is a necessity. This is better.

  • Alan Smith Reply

    I make office as home and it is going very well without any problem

  • ochomenet Reply

    I have yet to work in an design agency to compare experiences but when I used to meet with other designers to work together in the same place I feel I wasn’t as productive as I am working remotely.

  • Nick Reply

    I’ve just transitioned from a big corporate office to a tiny startup (3 people) to a home office.
    The corporate office was manifestly unhealthy and unproductive despite huge investment in the workspace and design. It’s not to say it can’t be done right, it just often isn’t in my experience.
    The startup space was kind of productive. It helped us form a team, set some norms of behaviour and get our thing launched… but not we’ve transitioned to more of a steady-state (operational) mode and it’s less useful. The kind of things we’re doing at the moment don’t require heavy interaction so much has heavy concentration and we’ve dispersed to our home offices.
    Having said that, some of the team are having trouble with the abrupt transitions from one space to the next. Having a fixed workplace and routine would help them adjust and adapt, but that’s a luxury we can’t afford.
    A friend of mine likes to observe that most workplaces are just places for adults to hang out now that they’ve outgrown the playground. They’re not really about productive output, it’s just a way for adults who don’t have anything better to do to kill their daylight hours – certainly explains some meetings I’ve been in.

    • Jacob Cass Reply

      Nick,
      Your friend must be a character! I do believe this playground is called working or surviving in retrospect. Thanks for sharing your experiences and good luck to you and your team.

  • Richard Gauder Reply

    In January after 11years at home our web development shop moved from a home office to a regular office. The commute has changed from stepping over a cat to walking 10 minutes to the office. Our employees seem to prefer an office (and being next to the lake doesn’t hurt either), but they still like to periodically work from home when they need focussed concentrated time. We also don’t eat as well at the office…that’s gotta change. We’ve set up plug and play stations so people can come into collaborate on a specific project at a certain time in the build when that’s required, so that’s been working well. We’re experimenting to see what works best and how it evolves. We’re into hiring passionate people who you’ve got to instruct to take a break rather than people that need supervision. So for us we believe that if everyone’s happy doing what they love to do and they can figure out what works best and is the most productive, good work and happy clients are going to be the result. We’ll see how it evolves!

  • Barrie Lindstrom Reply

    At the end, working at home it´s something that you “always” can do, it an option, an alternative always present.

  • ShobaShanker Reply

    I have worked for over six years both from home and at the office alternating between the two depending on my needs. I have found that Im more productive at home and work longer hours on tasks that require high level of concentration. On the other hand, when I need to get the creative juices flowing, I visit the office and spend time by the water cooler. That is where the best ideas are born. :-)

  • Rokas Petskevicius Reply

    Very interesting article. Some time ago I wrote a similar article, but instead of focusing only on working from home, I touched more points, such as rented places or coffee shops

    Actually, For many people, especially those who often work from home (like yours truly), a trip to the local coffee shop can lead to a major productivity and creativity boost. Actually, there is science to that phenomenon: the level of ambient noise common in coffee shops has been proven to increase creativity

    more: http://blog.visualpelican.com/how-to-choose-the-best-workspace-for-designing/

  • Lunar Reply

    Thanks for the broad view of this topic. people tend to lean in one direction or other.

  • Joe Reply

    I can definitely see the arguments for both sides, but for me personally I like working with others because it motivates me to stay on task. Where at home alone on my computer I get distracted reading blogs, checking Facebook, stuff that is not work related. Where at work I feel like because others are working and not getting distracted then neither should I.

  • Guestblo Reply

    Hey Jacob,

    It was really a good read and was glad to see that the arguments are without any bias. Well, I have experienced both in my life, and to tell you the truth, both have their own advantages as well as disadvantages. In fact, it quite depends on people around you. While working in an office could hamper your productivity if your colleagues are not so fond of you for some reasons, they could also help you grow both professionally and personally if you can gel well together.

  • Adrian B Reply

    We have worked on and off for years at home, it is great most of the time, but also challenging when the kids are of school ;) But at least we don’t have a massive overheads these days! Great post Jacob

  • Antonio Finney Reply

    As a person who can choose from where to work (I work as a programmer so nobody controls what exactly I do at home and what I do in the office), I must vote against working from home. You get less organized, you spend a lot of time on this and that because your brain thinks you are at home thus you are relaxed and obliged to do anything productive. I also can recommend this video http://mp3pole.com/video/FWpORhvVPNE/Sunrise-Pros-and-cons-of-working-from-home to watch to those who hesitate because in it they talk about both cons and pros so it’s fair. Also I enjoyed this article http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2013/03/21/4-joys-and-4-woes-of-working-from-home again, the author paid attention to both negative and positive aspects. Thank you very much for this post, it is always interesting for me to read others’ opinions on this topic.

  • themiamistudio Reply

    At the end, working at home it´s something that you “always” can do, it an option, an alternative always present.

  • Darpan Joshi Reply

    Hi there,

    Well i am a GD professionally & working in this field almost from 8 years, i tried to do freelance many times & i got response too but its not consistence, i mean i thought many times to left my job & do freelance full time from my home but there is no guarantee that i’ll get job every day of my life & get paid regularly.

    Even i have many bad experiences working online, many peoples get job done & never paid me my bread butter. Can you suggest me something very effective & TRUE basis freelance job or anything like that because i am also seeking for WFH (Work from Home)

    Thank you

  • Ruslan Sudentas Reply

    I work both at home and in an office and find pros and cons in both. Your article covers the topic brilliantly. I have shared some of my thoughts on working from home vs office here: http://screenshotmonitor.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-working-from-home-vs-working-from-the-office/

  • Zymco Marketing Reply

    Hi Jacob, great post. Something we thought we’d share is that working from home can be ideal and cheap, recently we have had to buy a few mac computers and as we all know they aren’t cheap, but from working from home we’d definitely say that we can afford them more than if we had an office somewhere.

  • Yofie Setiawan Reply

    I’ve been working remotely for 5 years now, as a Web Designer and Project Manager. I must say that working from home is not fun for me. I agree with the saying that home isn’t a place for working, the same with you better not having your working table next to your bed. Of course i have a working table on my bedroom, but i only use it for entertainment use, like watching youtube, or some minor works such as updating content on website, checking emails, send quotations, etc. But to work on a design, i need an open environment space. That’s why i came to Starbucks very often. But lately, i plan to build a company that hold few workers to help my works. And i was wonder whether to have a remote workers or office workers is the best for me. I have a remote worker partner already work with me for 4 years now, as Web Developer. And it’s been good and fine for me. To have an office, means lot of fix costs for me. But i would say it’s a thing that i must get through to get better. Of course ev every people would have different approach of how they enjoy their works. And i believe you should fine it and understand yourself…

  • Ingrid Reply

    My husband and I have an engineering business. We have an office in town with himself plus 4 employees (engineers) and I do the admin from home, have been doing this for the last 3 years. We are moving to bigger offices so I think I can now do the majority of work from the office as now there will be enough space for me to have my own desk there. :)

    Disadvantages of working at home:
    - get lonely
    - bit stircrazy being at home with admin for the business, housework, gardenwork and childcare.
    - umm, can be really focussed but also get distracted by the web i.e. right now I should be doing payroll… Also get a little messy as business papers get mixed up with personal papers etc and I try and multitask a little much.

    In a business, there is always more admin that could be done. I think that if I was in the office, I would identify more of the required tasks because I would plan to be in the office for a set time. Whereas at home, I do shorter stints more regularly but perhaps miss some big picture stuff.

    Advantages of Home office:
    - can do short stints !
    - often work with my husband on invoicing late at night, or on reports, as he is too busy designing or in client meetings etc during the day time to address admin stuff. Or he has a report that needs some fixing up by the next day.

    Disadvantages of work office:
    - need to make & take lunch in with me, otherwise costs will add up.
    - have to drive there
    - won’t get as much housework done…

    So I think I will mix it up, but I am looking forward to having a set time away from the house at the office !


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