Should I work from home or in the office?
One of the challenges facing workers in this season is the decision of where to work: how much time should I work from home or from the office?
For some, this isn’t really a choice as a number of employers are being quite direct and mandating a full, or close to full return to work in the office. Yet other employers remain more flexible, allowing employees the opportunity to continue working from home.
The pandemic and the work from home orders opened up many new and for many, attractive, working arrangements and opportunities. Hence there has been resistance from some employees to work full time back in the office when their employers demand it. Employees are steadily working more days in the office, yet it’s unclear when, or if ever, employees will always be expected to work from the office.
So what are we to make of this? How much should I work from home or the office?
The answer from the Scriptures, like so many challenging questions of everyday life, is wisdom. There is no right or wrong answer and there are numerous competing factors which need to be considered in order to make a wise decision.
Yet as we contemplate this, I thought I’d reflect on some principles to help us make the most of these transitioning work arrangements.
Inertia and convenience. For many working from home is a lot more convenient - there is an attraction to logging on in your pyjamas. But with convenience comes the potential to slip into laziness and inefficiency. There are often many distractions at home which can lead to being unproductive. Moreover, laziness is never praised in the Scriptures, so be mindful, when working at home to: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6)
Care for family. Working from home does allow greater flexibility with caring for family and being with them. There is wisdom for this and care for family is an important part of the Christian life e.g. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
We are designed for in-person relationships. One of the key things that the Covid related lockdowns have revealed to us is that we flourish with real human connection and relationship. Even if we’re introverted, we still need to be with people ‘in person’. I think this is connected with our humanity and the way we were created. The same principle undergirds the incarnation: ‘The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus didn’t become a download or a hologram, he dwelt among his people. Hence there is a theological rationale for why we appear to benefit by being physically present with our colleagues.
Be intentional. Given we are designed for in-person relationships, it will be for our benefit to physically co-exist with our colleagues. This will also allow more fruitful opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with them. The Apostle Paul encourages us to be intentional with non-believers as he exhorts believers to, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5).
As new patterns of working arrangements are made, this is the season to establish new and fruitful working habits. Hence no matter how many days per week we’re in the office, consider how we can be more intentional with those we work with.
Be more intentional to meet colleagues face to face.
Be more intentional to practice hospitality - take them out for a coffee or lunch - eating with our colleagues celebrates the value of our shared humanity.
Be more intentional to share something of the goodness of God and his Gospel with them. Perhaps pray that for the 1, 2 or even 5 days a week you’re in the office, you’ll be praying for and looking for opportunities to share with our colleagues.
Let’s make the most of this opportunity as people return to in-person working arrangements and pray that the Lord blesses these endeavours wherever we are and wherever we work.
Prayer: Please give us wisdom as we contemplate our working arrangements. Help us to be intentional with our colleagues to get to know them better and please give us opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those we work with. Please bless us with fruitful conversations with those we work with as we recalibrate our work patterns. Amen