Pros and Cons of Returning to an Office

The kitchen table might be your only option for a home office, but is that better than work?
The kitchen table might be your only option for a home office, but is that better than work? Photo by Wolfgan Lonien
Since the avalanche of coronavirus cases struck the United States, businesses have been forced to close,  sending millions of Americans home. For those lucky enough to have a job they can do remotely, that has meant an adjustment to a very different environment than what they are used to. Many have enjoyed the chance to work from home, but others cannot wait to return to work.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong place for work if you can truly do it without being in a specific place, but not everyone agrees exactly where that is. So, we've laid out so pros and cons for each in case you might still be on the fence about it.

Working from Home

Pro: The comfort.
Con: A little too much comfort.

Sitting on a sofa or, on a nice day, on a patio can seem like a grand way to put in a day's work. But employers worry that getting comfortable might lead to a lack of efficiency. And, let's be honest, sitting on your couch in the living room with the TV on isn't exactly conducive to getting a job done for most. The next time you wake up from an accidental nap with your computer beeping at you like there's a fire in the house, you'll see what we mean.

Pro: You get to see your family every day.
Con: You have to see your family every day.

Ah, yes, the joys of spouses, children and other family and/or friends who have been camping out with you throughout the quarantine. It can be lovely. It can also be complete hell. Remember when you really wanted to see your adorable little kids every day? Do you? It feels like that was years ago. And isn't it great how your significant other is always, like, right there...all the time? Yay!

Pro: The lack of a commute.
Con: The lack of a commute.

Even in a city like Houston where the traffic is only slightly worse than the virus, there are those who honestly enjoy the morning (and evening) commute. Podcasts, we guess? Many claim it allows them to decompress. It makes us want to decompress someone's face, but to each their own.

Pro: Zoom meetings instead of conference spaces.
Con: Lack of privacy.

Just a few years ago, working from home would have been much more difficult. But thanks to technology, we can beam our faces into cyberspace and watch others do the same. Be careful what you wish for, however. You may have been working without pants on for so many days in a row, you forget and stand up in the middle of a Zoom meeting. You might be able to pass it off as Zoombombing by a malicious hacker, but probably not.

Working in the Office

Pro: The camaraderie.
Con: The people.

One thing cited by many is the chance to see and hang out with co-workers. No doubt bonds are formed that go beyond working relationships in an office, which is wonderful. But, then there's Karen. We all know her. We all despise her. And, she ain't in your living room.

Pro: Dedicated work space.
Con: Cramped cubicle.

A nice desk, a sunny window and the convenience of your stuff makes work a lot easier. It's organized unless you are a massive slob and it's helpful for doing the job. But, that's only if you have a nice office. If not, well, your cubicle probably comes with a cramped, gray space bathed in fluorescent light. You'll be back to that pasty, vitamin D-deficient complex in no time!

Pro: Going out for lunch and happy hour.
Con: The money.

Digging around in your fridge for some of the leftover pizza from last night might seem fun, but it's kinda gross and your kids probably ate it anyway, those little a-holes. The fun of going out with a bunch of friends from work and gossiping about Karen seems irresistible. Then, you look at your AMEX bill at the end of the month and think, "Holy shit! Where's that leftover pizza?"

Pro: Easy access to your boss and team.
Con: Boss and team have easy access to you.

When you need something, there is real convenience in proximity. When they want something from you, there is no place to hide.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke