Remote Work vs. Office Work: Which Is Right for You?
There's been a lot of articles and discussions on Remote Work (also known as Work From Home, WFH) and Return to Office (RTO). Most of the focus has been on what the big corporations are doing, but I think there should be more focus on which option is right for you personally. You probably already know if you lean towards remote vs. in-office, but if you are on the fence about which one, here is a (short) checklist of questions to ask oneself that can help provide clarity (please note, this is a short list that's not all-inclusive):
Are you drained by being around people or energized? (i.e. are you an introvert or extrovert?) - Put aside all other reasons for a second and just look at your work day from a personal energy perspective. Do you come away from lots of interactions with people drained? Or do you feel pumped up and look at the day positively? (obviously, this is on a general level; any one person can bring down another and discourage them with the right negative words).
Do your career goals align more with either one? - Some positions require more of an in-office presence, depending on the position and type of work being performed. Look at the direction you are heading and ask yourself if you are fine with that, or if you need to re-align your career towards more remote-friendly roles and/or companies.
Is your home and/or personal life conducive to WFH? - Some people's situations just don't work for remote work (yet). Maybe you don't have a dedicated workspace, or maybe you don't have the best home internet. Then again, maybe you have a great home office option, with strong internet and the needed environment to work from home. Also keep in mind that most video conferencing software offer the option to blur out your background now, which means you don't have to worry about an embarrassing home mess in the background from a professional perspective.
What is your commute like and does the idea of sitting in traffic drain the life from you? - I hate sitting in traffic. This is completely dependent on your region and commuting options but is something to consider as well. Do you spend two hours or more driving to work each day? Does that bother you and are you excited at the idea of not having to do that every day? This can be a big one for Americans as vehicle ownership and maintenance are completely on them. Gas, wear and tear, insurance, fixing/maintaining, buying/leasing/payments, etc. are all on the (U.S.) individual (unless you have a company car). Or on the flip side, are you within walking distance (or a short drive) to work and enjoy walking to work? This is a circumstance you can change externally as well, by moving closer to work or finding work that is closer to you.
Are you self-motivated and disciplined enough for remote work? - There is a similar question to this one as well, which is, are you distracted and less productive in-office because of all the social interactions? Both of these areas you can choose to work at being better at, but it's good to honestly assess yourself when it comes to these questions.
Along with these questions, one has to keep in mind some of the pros and cons of both remote work and in-office.
Remote Work Pros:
Cost savings (a big pro!)
Remote Work Cons:
Distractions at home
Possible limited career advancement (completely depends on role and industry though)
Blurred boundaries between work and personal life
And of course, technology issues
Office Work Pros:
Social interaction (in-person)
Mentorship, networking, meeting new people you otherwise wouldn't have met virtually (big pro)
Office Work Cons:
Dress code (sometimes)
Office politics (can still get this virtually)
Hopefully, this gives you some things to think about when it comes to remote work vs. in-office. Keep in mind, that you are the one in charge of your career and what direction it goes in. If you want to have more of a remote role but aren't in a industry that supports that, start looking into alternative industries and figure out how to start moving in that direction. I for one am glad we live in a day and age where remote work is even possible, because it wasn't a term 30 years ago!