How does productivity vary for those who WFH vs. in the office?
- 85% of business leaders surveyed say they believe working from home (WFH) reduces productivity.
- 48% of employers are using monitoring software.
- However, research shows that WFH employees have a 60% increase in productivity.
In the past few years, the number of employees working from home (WFH) has skyrocketed. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many employers to send their workers home. Almost three years later, some employees haven’t returned to the office.
What’s next for companies? WFH appears to be here to stay, although some employers question employee productivity. Here’s how WFH impacts remote workers.
What do employers say about working from home?
Working from home has raised questions with management teams regarding productivity. Some bosses have had difficulty believing their employees are staying engaged throughout the workday. In fact, 85 percent of business leaders say transitioning from in-office work to remote or hybrid situations decreases their confidence that people are productive.
The lack of confidence has led some companies to install productivity trackers with their teams. Nearly half (48 percent) of business leaders say they’ve implemented monitoring software, and 32 percent have considered using similar measures. Some companies have opted for cloud computing in the workplace, making it easy to set productivity targets and track employees’ work during the day.
Business leaders seem divided on telework across industries where working from home is possible. One thing that factors into their beliefs is age. Older managers are typically more traditional and want to keep workers in the office if possible. However, leaders under 50 have shown more flexibility toward remote or hybrid work schedules. Even Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he favors WFH for himself and his employees.
Related: How employers can help manage workplace stress
What Do Employees Say?
Leadership teams see division in their WFH stances, but workers say they maintain or surpass productivity targets. Though WFH has risen during COVID-19, employees have demonstrated before the pandemic that remote work enhances performance.
For example, a travel agency studied two groups of employees working remotely and in the office. The study found that after nine months, the remote employees had a 13 percent increase in performance. Two reasons stood out in the study. The remote workers took fewer sick days and averaged more calls per minute. The WFH group says they enjoy a working environment that’s quieter and more convenient for them.
Since the pandemic, WFH has become more commonplace because employees feel and act more productive. Research shows that nearly 60 percent of remote workers report higher productivity levels, and only 14 percent say their productivity dipped. This comes from the time saved commuting, leading to lower stress levels and better focus on the job. Also, employees attribute the ability to optimize their working environment.
Related: Employers, is your safety and health program up to par?
Why Are WFH Employees More Productive?
Employees typically opt for telework instead of coming to the office when they have the option. Being at home gives them more flexibility and control over their professional and personal lives. These five reasons show why working from home enhances employee performance.
1. Customizable Office
In a 2020s remake of “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy would say there’s no place like a home office. Employees can get creative with their workspace at work, but they can only do so much. However, they have more options at home. They can customize things just how they like them.
One aspect workers like with a home office is the color. Some employees paint their walls blue for creativity or red to improve attention to detail. At home, workers can find more comfortable places to sit while they work. They can use an ergonomic desk chair, work from the backyard or sprawl on their couch. Employees have more options than sitting at their desks.
2. Flexible Hours
Working 9-to-5 has been the norm for decades, but WFH has challenged that tradition. Managers have allowed their remote or hybrid employees to choose their hours. Workers can get a head start in the morning or start a little bit later. Employees may differ in their exact hours, but there is still plenty of time for collaboration during work hours.
Employees with complete autonomy over their schedules are 29 percent more productive than those with rigid hours. On top of productivity, their focusing ability is 53 percent better. Workers like flexible schedules because they know when they’re most productive. They can take breaks when necessary and make room for doctor appointments, family obligations and other life events.
3. Less Commuting
A significant benefit for WFH employees is removing the commute from their workday. Office workers may need an hour or two to drive or use public transportation to travel. Census data shows people average an hour to an hour and a half on their work commute daily. However, WFH employees don’t have to worry about traffic, weather or other obstacles. They can stay at home, save gas and reduce their carbon footprint.
4. More Family Time
Employees who spend less time on the road and in the office can devote more time to their families. WFH especially benefits parents who want to be around their young children. These workers can stay home and save money on child care costs. Depending on their schedules, some parents may be able to keep their kids home all day and avoid paying for day care or a nanny.
WFH gives employees more time to bond with their children, whether helping with homework, cooking a nice dinner, playing games or going out to do fun activities. Remote workers don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of big cities. They can be closer to their children in suburban or rural areas. WFH helps employees with family relationships and gives them a better work-life balance.
5. Healthier Habits
Employees save time with WFH by not having to commute. Many have taken the saved time and used it for self-care. They have more time to cook meals at home, see friends outside work and go to the gym. WFH has introduced mental and physical health benefits for workers.
About 35 percent say they get more exercise because they have more time for the gym or incorporated fitness routines at home. About 45 percent are sleeping better, and 42 percent say they’re eating healthier. WFH often leads to less time eating fast food because people are close to their kitchens and don’t drive by restaurants on their way home. Healthier habits make workers less stressed and more productive in a remote setting.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
WFH was here before COVID-19, but the pandemic has dramatically changed the working environment you’re used to seeing. Some managers may prefer to work in the office, but trends show WFH is the way of the future. Researchers project that one-quarter of professional jobs will be remote by 2023. Some leaders are wary, but employees have consistently reported higher productivity levels and better morale because of WFH’s flexibility.
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