Remote vs Office Work

22 March 2015. Filed under category Nomad.

I spent my first two weeks in Madrid on-site with a client. This is the longest stretch I’ve had doing the 9-whatever office thing in over four years. This article is my comparison of the two modes of working.

Remote: You don’t need to dress up.

Suits, ties and those uncomfortable shoes, Humbug! The only suit I need is the one I was born in.

Office: You get to dress up.

I love dressing up in fancy suits and ties. It makes you feel all proper and important. Why would you want to miss out on that?!

Remote: You don’t need to leave the house.

Let me describe my commute: I lean slightly to my right and pick up my laptop from the bedside table.

Office: You get to leave the house.

Who would want to stay home all week long? Getting out into the world is important, and work forces you to do so.

Remote: You get to avoid office gossip.

Do you really care about what Christian in accounting did during that Christmas party? Yet the office gossip will insist on a blow-by-blow retelling of the story … for the third time.

Office: You get to enjoy office gossip.

Hell yeah you care! You’ve had a crush on Christian for years and you never tire of this saucy story, especially since you are the unknown person he did it with!

Remote: You don’t have to eat out.

Have you ever counted up how much you spend a year on daily lunches? At home you have a fridge full of yummy stuff just waiting to get eaten.

Office: You get to eat out.

Who are you kidding? You’d ignore that fridge as always and eventually die from cereal poisoning. Better to enjoy some proper food at some lovely eatery.

Remote: You can escape all those meetings.

We’ve all been just a razor away from suicide when we get dragged into yet another pointless meeting where, at best, you have 5 important minutes and 55 minutes of Chinese boredom torture.

Office: You get invited to all those meetings.

Those five minutes were really important! Good thing you were in that meeting or you would not have known about the change in client policy and eventually been fired. Phew!

Remote: Out of sight, out of mind.

Working from home, your co-workers will overlook you for those inane extra-curricular activities that they guilt-trip into, not to mention the money you’ll save on not paying for their charity bungee jumps.

Office: In sight, in mind.

Who do you think will get that upcoming promotion? The office worker whose face the managers see every day or the remote worker who the managers only know as a chat-room nickname?

Remote: You get interrupted by family and friends.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them that work time is work time. They will still bug you all day long with requests to program the video, empty the cat box etc.

Office: You get interrupted by co-workers.

“Do you have five minutes?” is a rhetorical question. It must be, because the co-workers who say those dreaded lines never ever wait for an answer before wasting your time.

Remote: Flexible Time

Not all but many remote workers get to move their hours around. This is awesome, both professionally (Waiting for someone to do X? Shift those hours!) and personally (Go sightseeing during the day when everyone else is at the office.).

Office: Fixed Time

Guess who is going to get the pleasure of taking care of that server meltdown in the middle of the night? That’d be that other guy with the flexible working hours, that’s who. Doesn’t matter if he was in the middle of Christian from accounting…

Travel Updates

I’ve been in Madrid since 1 March. The first two weeks, I was working with a client on-site (hence this blog post). Then I simply remained in the city. I’ve worked a lot, so haven’t explored much yet, but I like the vibe of Madrid. Will stay here to April 15.

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Which mode of work won the battle?

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  1. Cindi says:

    Great post. I’m an advocate for companies figuring out how to have successful remote/home officed teams. After 13 years of being a remote asset as a US based consultant who has worked with global teams – the out of sight tends to be the biggest challenge for most managers.

    The default in a lot of situations is that managers inexperienced in managing remote team members expect or perceive the person who is off site is less committed. Which of course isn’t true – stats and studies show it can work exceptionally well for lots of people.

    When a company trusts the people they hire and let them self select to or not to work remotely – it works well more often than it doesn’t. It can make for a great extended office environment because people who are able to choose where they work, and choose well, work better.

    True, some people think they would work well off site but don’t – those people when given the chance to try it out generally tend to head back into the office if they don’t get fired first because it supports their personal work preference.

    A big piece in the success of it is giving people a choice. Which can make for great outcomes for companies who are forward thinking.

    1. It sure does come down to trust, and I am blessed with a manager and colleagues who trust that I will tend to my work honestly and not skimp on my hours etc, although there is no real way for them to check it.

      All said, I’ve found remote work to be really effective and enjoyable.

  2. Vagina says:

    I have unfortunately come to the realisation that I like working for people, so long as the conditions are right. I like flexibility and change, so having a thumb in more than one pie at a time, makes things much more interesting!
    So a little of working from home, or in my own conditions is desirable, but not all the time.
    I enjoy the interaction with others.

    As always I enjoy your missives, be they short in stature or of notable length and consistency, always enjoyable!
    I like my brain being stimulated.
    Thanks mate!

    1. I love tickling your brain! 🙂

      Yes, working from home can become pretty lonely sometimes. But, then you just need to take a break and go and stand in the middle of a big crowd for a while to remind yourself that humanity is still out there, milling around.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Was it a battle, or will it be synergy?

    I love how the “People will bother you at inopportune moments” (Not actually a quote) one is the same for both… Too true 🙂

    Curious how you keep track of your hours when working remotely… Excel sheet and frequent klocka tittar? Some application magnifique? Tid blockering? And do you like keep it as 40 hours a week or calculate it as ~170 hours per month so as to do a lot of work followed by a lot of fritid? (This is, by the way, my attempt to impress you with my language skills! … With a bit of help from google to change words from norwegian and dutch into swedish haha!)

    Anyway, fair travels onward 🙂

    1. I track my hours per week, so 40 hours from Sunday to Saturday. And I use the excellent program Klok for keeping track of my time. It work really well.

      And yes, I’m totally impressed by your linguistic gymnastics.

  4. Megan says:

    My husband and I are trying to become nomadic. We are having difficulties finding jobs we can do remotely. Do you know any companies that are looking for remote employees? Most of the stuff we find online are just scams.

    1. Sorry, no, I don’t know of any companies like that. Just keep looking I guess.

Which mode of work won the battle?

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