07 May, 2020

Working from home vs. working at the office: Which is better for your business?

By: Omar Abdul-Hafiz

The recent predicament with the outbreak of the coronavirus has created nothing short of an earthquake in the business landscape worldwide. One major aspect of this shockwave was the sudden urgent need to keep the flow of work going while still adhering to the safety measures necessary to counter the spread of the pandemic. And none of these efforts would have been effective without the option to switch to remote work as an urgent alternative to the traditional office-based model of work.

And if there’s one thing this has taught us, it’s that the current status quo that we have lived comfortably with for years can, and will, be disrupted in a matter of a few weeks. As such, working at an office became a no-option for a large number of enterprises around the world, and working from home became the one and only way to keep work going.

In light of this, it’s important to reflect on how the two models compare to one another and come up with lessons to learn from for the future.

So, how do they compare to each other? 

In this section, we will compare the two models according to 4 main criteria: Focus & productivity, social/cultural connection, cost-effectiveness for the company, and lastly, work-life balance.

Focus and productivity

For a long time, the idea of working remotely was perceived by many employers and business owners to be detrimental to their employees’ focus and productivity. This idea largely stemmed from the perception that less face-to-face interaction and monitoring of the flow of work may lead to many people getting distracted and therefore become less productive.

Yet according to data gathered by RescueTime, a company selling an app for automatically tracking productivity at work, working remotely has proven to increase productivity substantially. According to their data, “remote workers had a 4% increase in average daily time spent on their core work and an 18% decrease in time spent on communication (compared to office workers)”.

One the other hand, however, enforcing an office-based work policy has often lead to the rise of the phenomenon known as presenteeism, the practice of being at work physically without actually getting much done. As many articles experts have stated, presenteeism has been a curse haunting the business world for many years now.

Despite that, one cannot ignore the benefits of maintaining an office-based work culture. Working at an office generally makes it easier for employers to keep in touch with their staff, thus directing them more regularly on what needs to be done. If done in a systematic and well-planned manner, this does help maintain staff productivity and keeping it focused to the business needs at stake.

In light of all this, it’s clear that the level of focus or productivity does not solely depend on whether we work from home, the office, or some other place. With proper planning and balance between the two modes of work, focus and productivity can be maintained.

Social/cultural connection

When talking about employees being engaged in the culture of their company, we can easily spot an advantage for working at the office. Being physically present makes it more likely for co-workers to communicate, even in impromptu meetings in the corridor, and share their ideas and opinions. It also helps them better collaborate in teamwork and innovate. This is the reason why big companies like Yahoo and IBM completely embraced a strict office-based work policy.

Yet, on the other hand, taking time off from the office does have a positive impact on driving enthusiasm among staff. In fact, some experts say that remote work can help enhance company loyalty. Also, it lets employers find and hire talents that may not be able to be present at the office due to geographic limitations, for instance.

Time- and Cost-effectiveness

When comparing remote work and office-based work in terms of their time and cost-effectiveness, several issues can be discussed. Perhaps the most popular of these is the employees’ need to constantly commute to work and back home again daily, wasting valuable time in traffic jams and rush hours in the process. Another point people often raise about working from an office is that more often than not, valuable time is wasted in meetings for solving certain matters that otherwise be easily resolved in a brief phone call. As for cost-effectiveness, it’s natural for office-intensive businesses to spend large scores of money on operational costs such as electricity, water, rents, stationery, and so on.

Working remotely, on the other hand, has proven to cut all of these costs short. According to an article, “when compared with office employees, remote workers saved $4,523.04 on fuel each year.” Likewise, letting employees work remotely once a week can help companies save up on the electricity bill, according to some experts.

But does this necessarily mean working remotely does not have its costs? Probably not. Working remotely does require more dependence on teleconferencing tools, which in turn require higher bandwidth and internet speeds, thus increasing the cost of maintaining a reliable Internet connection.

Work-life balance

One merit proponents of working from home often bring up is the higher ability to maintain balance between work and life. Instead of having to spend 9 or more hours at an office cubicle, working remotely allows more room for staying connected to one’s family. This is especially significant to working moms who need to balance getting things done at work while also taking care of their little ones.

Balance is the secret

In light of the points discussed above, can we say for certain that one of the two models is ultimately better than the other? The answer is not quite that simple. As we have seen, each model has its ups and downs, and it all depends on your business needs and how you plan to satisfy them. One thing we can be certain about, however, is that balance is the best way to attain the best of both models. While maintaining an office-based work policy, companies can indeed benefit from the merits of allowing their employees to work remotely some of the time.

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About ESKADENIA Software

ESKADENIA® Software is a three-time MENA Award Winner & CMMI® level 3 certified company that is active in the design, development and deployment of a range of software products in the Telecom, Insurance, Enterprise, Education, Healthcare, and Internet application areas. The company is based in Jordan and has sales activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; more than 85% of its sales are exported to the global market. For more information, visit, or contact us at