An increasingly competitive job market for employers and improvements in telecommunications technology have meant that working remotely has become an increasingly available and technologically feasible option for employers and employees.
But, while it’s reasonable to assume that working from home is the hands-down preference among employees, there are some who suggest that it can lead to loneliness and a lack of effective collaboration with coworkers.
Rather than dive into a pile of empirical data, we thought we’d review the anecdotal findings of freelancer Ieva Baranova, who spent a month working in three different work environments and wrote about her experience for Ladders.
In the article, she compares her experiences working in an office, in a coffee shop, and working from home. She uses two metrics to evaluate her experience, which are good gauges for the likely priorities of employers and employees respectively: productivity and personal satisfaction.
In the Office
Personal satisfaction: 4/5
Baranova found that while there was collaboration in her agency’s office, there was also a lot of socializing that negatively impacted her productivity, although it did provide some personal satisfaction from the personal interactions.
In a Coffee Shop
Personal satisfaction: 2/5
For Baranova, the coffee shop ranked worst in personal satisfaction and only slightly better than the office for productivity. Baranova had predicted the coffee shop might not be the best environment both because of the potential cost and the discomfort of working in a public area surrounded by strangers.
“I did feel less comfortable working in a public space where everyone was a stranger and I had to pack my stuff merely to go to the bathroom,” she writes. But, she acknowledges, she did find herself able to work productively in the coffee shop environment. “I buried myself in work to avoid thinking about my lack of comfort.”
Personal satisfaction: 5/5
It may not be surprising to many that the home office was the most personally satisfying for Baranova, even though it does lack the personal, human interaction found in an office setting with colleagues.
However, it may be surprising that, at least for Baranova, home was the most productive environment.
Again, this is purely anecdotal, and Baranova herself is quick to point out: “Mind that this will never be the case for all professions and even all types of people.”
The ideal work environment is going to depend greatly on the specific employee and the nature of the work. Baranova’s experience is as likely to be representative of one employee’s as it is to be unlikely; however, it does provide some insights into some of the pros and cons in terms of productivity and personal satisfaction that employees may find in various work settings.