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Mobile Working vs Home Office: What is the Difference?

Gina Schumacher

Since the pandemic, modern workplace models have found their way into everyday working life — to the great joy of many employees. However, the terms home office and mobile working are often used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. Companies and employees alike are therefore asking themselves: What is the difference between mobile working and working from home?

In this article, we not only address the differences, but also explain the legal framework and tax aspects of mobile working vs. home office.

Mobile working vs home office: What are the differences?

A man is sitting on his sofa and is working from home.

Although both mobile work and home office are concepts of remote work, there are differences that should not be ignored. In principle, the difference between mobile work and working from the home office can be quickly explained:

  • Home office: Home Office refers to working from home, where employees carry out their professional tasks outside the traditional office.
  • Mobile working: Mobile working means the ability to work from different locations — whether from home, on the go or at other locations outside the office, thanks to digital technologies and mobile devices.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are many nuances that make the two concepts stand out. As mentioned earlier, the term home office strictly refers to working from home. The workplace is permanently furnished and offers all the necessary work equipment to be able to work effectively.

From this home office, you carry out your professional tasks and are usually available during normal working hours for your company. The decisive factor for the home office concept is that the work takes place exclusively in the home registered with the employer — there is no provision for choosing other workplaces spontaneously when working from home.

In contrast, mobile working means the ability to work from anywhere. Unlike when working from the home office, the workplace when working remotely is therefore not fixed and can be selected and changed at will — as long as you complete your work on time and have the necessary work equipment, such as a laptop, smartphone and a stable internet connection. As a result, this approach is particularly popular with freelancers, digital nomads and self-employed people.

In principle, the main difference between home office and mobile work lies in the choice of workplace. While working from home requires you to work from your own apartment, mobile work provides flexibility, as you can do your job no matter where you are.

Difference between mobile working and home office: legal framework

A man is doing mobile work in a cafe.

In contrast to traditional working models, there is no explicit legal framework for home office and mobile working in most countries. As a result, implementation and design is an individual matter, which is reinforced by agreements between employers and employees. So if your company does not yet have any home office regulations, you can contact your employer at any time and discuss your options — but the company is under no obligation to meet the home office requirements of its employees.

Nevertheless, certain legal aspects must be taken into account when introducing home office and mobile working, because even though modern workplace models are not yet enshrined in law, this is not legal no man's land. Just as when working from the office, important aspects of mobile work or home office should also be contractually agreed, including working time regulations, data protection regulations, workplace flexibility and occupational safety.

How do home offices and mobile working affect taxes?

It is obvious that working from home leads to higher costs for employees — after all, it is not the company's resources that are being used, but their own. But the good news is that there are many tax benefits for working remotely or working from home.

Employees around the globe have opportunities to claim the additional costs arising from working from home for tax purposes. The regulations on the so-called home office package are decisive for this.

This lump sum is intended to cover work equipment for the home office, such as computers, printers or office furniture, for tax purposes. The lump sum also takes into account proportionate rental or additional costs arising from working from home. The more home office days you can register, the higher the tax relief usually. But even if you only work from home or work remotely from time to time, you shouldn't neglect the tax benefits.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home and working remotely?

A woman in a hijab is doing mobile work at home.

Both working from home and mobile working have numerous advantages — for both employees and employers. However, it is important to consider the potential challenges and take appropriate measures to ensure that innovative working models are used optimally.

Benefits for companies:

  • Flexibility: As a company, you can access a wider range of talent through mobile work, as they are no longer tied to geographical locations. By desk sharing platforms such as Flexopus you can still manage your teams efficiently and transparently.
  • Cost savings: The reduction of office space and associated costs mean significant savings.
  • Higher productivity: Many companies report an increased productivity of your teams, as they work more efficiently in their familiar environment and are happier as a result of the better work-life balance.

Disadvantages for companies:

  • Communication: Since face-to-face meetings are reduced, communication takes place in virtual channels. However, this challenge can be minimized by using appropriate tools.
  • Technical challenges: Without a doubt, being able to work from home requires more technical planning. The provision of technology for mobile working is no longer a problem thanks to desk sharing software.

Benefits for employees:

  • Flexibility: Workers have the opportunity to make their work more flexible and to better adapt their working hours to their personal needs.
  • Better work-life balance: Working from home enables employees to better balance work and personal life and thus achieve a better work-life balance.
  • Time and cost savings: Through the elimination of daily commute workers save a lot of time and money.

Disadvantages for employees:

  • Distractions: In the home office, it can be easier to be distract, whether through household tasks, family, or personal matters.
  • Boundaries between work and private life are blurring: Without a clear separation between work and home, some people find it difficult to switch off and relax after work.

For most people, it's clear that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. The key to success is to be aware of the challenges and to counteract potential problems at an early stage.

Conclusion

Both home office and mobile working are important working models that offer companies and employees flexibility and efficiency — provided that they are implemented and managed correctly. The difference between mobile work and home office lies in the definition of workplace and flexibility. While the home office is a fixed place of work outside the company, mobile working allows a more flexible design of the workplace, which can change as required. Both concepts offer advantages and disadvantages that must be carefully considered.

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Markus Merkle
Sales manager