Research Suggests Workers may be More Productive at Home

Annie Erling Gofus - Jun 09 2022
Published in: Global Workforce
| Updated Apr 27 2023
Some employers are reconsidering return-to-work policies

Employers of all sizes are encouraging their employees to return to the workplace, despite how well they have adjusted to working from home. 

According to data from Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom, individuals who work remotely are more productive than they were early in the epidemic. Since May 2020, Bloom has been working with academics from the University of Chicago, ITAM, and MIT to conduct a large ongoing poll on employees' work arrangements and attitudes toward remote work. In April, those who worked at least part of the time remotely said they were 9 percent more productive working from home than they were in the office. That amount has gone from 5 percent in the summer of 2020.

Workers were unprepared when they began working from home in March 2020. Newly remote work did not have management systems, performance evaluation procedures, meeting structures, processes, or technology. Workers are better prepared, and productivity is anticipated to rise as technology makes it simpler.

Of course, this productivity information is self-reported, and most people wish to continue working from home. However, there is a great deal of objective data that suggests that individuals are, in fact, more productive when working from home. For example, engineers submitting more changes to code, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on growing output per hours worked, and more calls per minute for call center workers.

According to researchers ' predictions, working from home will not disappear after the pandemic. Almost 40 percent of workdays in the United States begin and end at home. This number corroborates data from the office keycard maker Kastle, which found that workspace occupancy is at 43 percent. Remote work is expected to be around 25 to 30 percent, meaning that working from home will not vanish. While traffic has resumed to pre-pandemic levels in restaurants and hotels, business offices have yet to fully recover.

Many employers might admit that productivity at home is good, but they are concerned about other "immeasurable" factors, such as workers' capacity to collaborate and be creative from home. According to a December Northeastern University survey, over half of C-suite executives from various industries were concerned about their staff's capacity to be creative and inventive when working remotely.

Employers are also concerned about how the increasing number of remote employees will affect their company culture and loyalty. According to Slack’s Future Forum's findings, executives are more inclined to say they desire a work-from-home schedule than non-executives, although they are less likely to be doing so full time. The researchers discovered that since the majority of office employees now work five days a week in their offices, they have had their worst employee experience.

On May 18, the Worldwide ERC® article, Maintaining Company Culture with Remote/Hybrid Workers, noted that in a KPMG poll of more than 300 business executives, more than half (53%) said that culture is one of the most critical factors impacting their company’s success.

In this highly competitive labor market, many people are using remote work to get their way, and bosses are not in a position to resist. In comparison to onsite employment, remote work is more popular. Based on LinkedIn's data, about 20 percent of paid job listings on the platform are remote now, but they get a majority of applications (52 percent). And according to a recent survey, approximately 60 percent of knowledge workers said they would quit their employment for a completely remote one.

On the other hand, employers appear to be ceding workers' desire for flexibility. According to Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University, office employees anticipate their employers will allow them to work from home 2.3 days per week on average following the pandemic. This number is up from 1.6 days in the summer of 2020.

Apple had promised that employees would have to visit the workplace three days each week. Following employee resistance and a prominent machine learning researcher quitting over the firm's refusal to adapt, the firm has postponed and modified its plan. Even the most diehard office supporters are beginning to accept remote work. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has been outspoken about his dislike for remote work. Still, only half of the company's employees will be in the office full time, he claimed in his most recent shareholder letter.

It is unclear what happens if the economy worsens and workers do not have as much power as they do now. If so, employers may be better positioned to push employees back into the workplace.

According to CBRE, as of this year, 52 percent of the 185 office properties it recently polled intend to reduce their office real estate in the next three years, compared with 39 percent who say they will grow. Lastly, nine percent say they are maintaining their existing footprint.

According to the poll, 73 percent of businesses want to follow a hybrid work plan in which individuals work from home and in the office. In comparison, 19 percent work exclusively from home, and 8 percent are entirely remote. Amid the mire, coworking spaces, which may be unoccupied far more swiftly than normal office space, are flourishing.