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Are We Really More Productive Working from Home?

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The digital age has given the work environment a new level of convenience.

Thanks to technological advancement, the definition of “workspace” has become more and more inclusive with the birth of the “work from home” trend.


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Nowadays, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses and their employees are following suit, prompting the question: Is working from home more effective?

Work From Home vs Office: What’s the Difference?

According to an Owl Labs survey, in 2021, employees got a one-time reimbursement from 40% of employers for work-from-home expenses.

Based on the same poll, only 36% of respondents feel that the workplace is best suited for individual work.

A home environment is a form of comfort zone for some, explaining why certain employees are more productive when working from home. Particularly if the household stimulates the employees’ production of happy hormones. 

Better Output: When it comes to being as effective as possible, 86% of workers prefer to work alone, according to research done by Ask.com.

Less chit-chat around the water cooler: Those who work from home communicate less with colleagues, whether it is about work.

According to Airtasker, 70% of individuals consider social work interactions more essential than getting the job done.

Working from home allows you to spend less time with other people outside your home.

There is no need to commute: Working from home saves time. Whether it takes 10 minutes or an hour to travel to work, it won’t defeat the economic value of staying remotely.

The period advantage doesn’t even consider the hours spent preparing, from taking a bath to fixing your stuff. Hygiene activities are essentially irrelevant most of the time for those who work from home unless there’s a meeting.

Employees may begin their workday early if they do not drive into the workplace.

According to the Airtasker poll, not travelling to work saves workers an average of 8.5 hours per week of free time.

This adds up to 408 hours over a year.

Higher productivity: When people come to work, they get more done.

According to workforce performance data at home that Wired obtained from Enkata, office employees were 50% more productive than those working from home.

Perhaps they’re picking up tips from their colleagues, better understanding what is expected of them, or delegating tasks to an agency that can do the work better. In the end, this means higher work production per work hour.

Shorter breaks: Surprisingly, it takes home employees longer to go to the kitchen and back than it does for office workers to fetch their meals.

Or, to put it another way, experts discovered that home-based employees clock out for breaks at a greater rate.

Reduce idle time: Don’t blame workers for being distracted by water cooler banter. Workers that work from home have their own set of challenges. It’s evident in their work.

According to Enkata, home-based workers spend 30% more time idle during their work hours than office-based workers.

Saves money: Because of the financial strains imposed by the pandemic, company owners may be able to save money by allowing some or all of their employees to work from home.

While certain expenses are associated with establishing home-based teams, firms may save money on property bills, cleaning services, and even meals.

According to a recent Gartner poll, three out of four finance executives questioned would consider relocating 5%.

That means more of their onsite employees will have permanent remote employment after the present crisis has passed.

Make flexible schedules: Remote employees also have more flexibility in their schedules, minimising absenteeism and saving money daily.

There’s no need to take days off here and there to fulfil personal responsibilities.

Working from Home before COVID-19

Many businesses are wary of allowing workers to work from home because they assume they would be less productive. This isn’t entirely incorrect. It’s all too simple to become sidetracked, postpone, or put in less effort at home than at work.

A 2019 research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pointed out that 24% of employed people conducted part or all of their work from home on workdays.

Meanwhile, 82% of employed people did some or all of their work at their office.

BLS added that workers in financial operations, business, and management occupations (37%) and professional and related occupations (33%) do some or all of their work from home on days they work.

According to research conducted in 2012, office employees who were given tedious jobs performed better and quicker in their usual work environment.

When you don’t love your job, home-life distractions are more likely to inhibit efficient work.

However, when the job was more creative, the research revealed that the outcomes were more productive.

In other words, the fewer constraints a task is subjected to, the faster it will be done.

According to the same 2012 research, a complete “office” will underperform if everyone works from home. Each person will put in the same amount of effort as the last. That is, no one wants to put forth more effort while others ride on their coattails.

More recent research has shown that the longer someone works from home, the less effective they become. Those who worked full time (8 hours per day) from home were 70% less productive than those who did not.


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The pandemic’s pervasive dread and worry, on the other hand, puts into question another topic—one that, sadly, the business world may dismiss under normal conditions but now cannot be ignored: mental health.

Work From Home After COVID-19

Many things have changed since 2012. Working from home has become more convenient, and communication software has improved.

According to polls conducted in the last several months, working from home could create a faster project turnaround and increase productivity.

Employee productivity was compared from March to August 2020, the first six months of stay-at-home directives, to the same six-month period in 2019.

A two-year survey of 800,000 workers also mentioned that remote job productivity remained unchanged or improved when done from home.

Prodoscore claims that productivity has increased by 47% since March 2020 (compared to March and April 2019), and they’ve figured out when individuals are most productive.

According to the survey, workers are most productive on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The typical workweek is still 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. More employees utilise email and Customer Relationship Management software to communicate with coworkers.

According to a Stanford poll, just 65% of the workers have fast internet speeds to support video chats. With 42% of those working from home and 26% working at their employer’s physical site, the future seems bright.

An Airtasker report from March 2020 said that work-from-home workers spent 15% less time avoiding work, worked 1.4 more days per month, and took longer breaks.

Workers at a home office report being less distracted by coworkers, conversing about non-work issues for 30 minutes less and spending 7% less talking to management.

The New York Times asked Chegg’s senior executive, Nathan Schultz, about the company’s efficiency now that labour is protected at home.

His first reaction was to continually check in on staff. Still, after he took a step back, productivity increased, and people began to complete projects ahead of time.

Just because productivity is higher right now doesn’t indicate it will continue to be so.

According to the same NYT story, several businesses are experiencing employee dissatisfaction due to a lack of social engagement.

Employee mental health will impede productivity over time, lowering employee satisfaction.

Challenges of Working from Home

As the data stated above, WFH lets individuals work comfortably, save many hours of commute time, and avoid dealing with demanding employers or coworkers who are always looking over their shoulders.

In fact, 97% of remote workers say they’d prefer to work from home at least partly. The advantages of remote work seem to outweigh the disadvantages for workers.

However, there are disadvantages, which you and your squad will undoubtedly encounter at some point.

While some workers adapt to WFH like ducks to water, others find it difficult to adjust to the substantial and unsettling changes it implies in the workplace. 

When workers have difficulty, their productivity suffers, and the company’s procedures are harmed.

More individuals working remotely pinpoint a new set of issues that, if not handled, may have a detrimental influence on productivity.

Identifying the problems of working from home may help you establish techniques for staying resilient, motivated, and productive for yourself and your remote team.

The following are some of the most common issues raised by Forbes:

Work-Life Unbalance

Employees who work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. may usually unplug in the evening and relax at home. They may get out of the job mentality by commuting home. That routine is interrupted when you work from home.

The distinction between work and home is often blurred, causing workers to remain in a work mentality forever. Many workers wind up overworking, which may lead to a decline in productivity over time.

Furthermore, it may harm their non-work relationships and social lives, resulting in widespread dissatisfaction.

Mental Health Challenges

Working from home might mean working in solitude, far cry from the normal, busy office environment. It may throw workers off their game, particularly extroverts who feed off one another and rely on others to be more productive.

Furthermore, duties are often completed by one person, and there could be more work than normal. Finally, the never-ending virtual meetings that lack the traditional personal connection might add to the pile. All of this may put remote workers’ mental health at risk.

Distractions 

Isn’t it true that working from home should eliminate all distractions? As you’re probably aware, the contrary seems to be true. Many workers who work from home say they’re more distracted than they’ve ever been.

They spend their free time playing video games, listening to music, and buying online. Furthermore, those who live with relatives or friends have discovered that they often interrupt them at inconvenient times.

Communication, Collaboration Issues 

While there are various ways to reach out to remote workers and collaborate with them, many employees may feel miss out on the human aspect. Over the internet, for example, it might not be easy to obtain a sense of people’s emotions, overall mood, or vitality.

When meeting new individuals, it may be difficult to understand their personalities, making it harder to break the ice. Working on huge projects and organising several teams may be a difficult task.

Technical Issues 

When workers work from home, they don’t have to worry about technical requirements such as a computer, internet connection, software, and other related equipment. The firm is typically in charge of everything.

At home, though, the situation may be different. It may cause many glitches, disruptions, and, in the worst-case scenario, security breaches. Employees that aren’t as tech-savvy would most certainly struggle.

Finding Motivation

Better Up said working from home, whether as a remote job or self-employed individual, may make it easy to lose motivation.

You may lose sight of your long-term job ambitions due to a lack of external input and engagement with colleagues. Eventually, you’ll lose your motivation.

It’s no surprise that remote teams are losing motivation due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

You can keep issues from spiralling out of control by developing and implementing a thoughtful, balanced WFH approach. If you take proactive action, you can take care of your workers and keep them in good form, even if they work from home for long periods.

Takeaway

As you can see, working from home has its drawbacks, but it may also help you and your coworkers become more productive.

Although you’ll need to consider the best work atmosphere and how to manage responsibilities, you should discover that with your new flexible schedule, you get more done and have less stress once you get started.

Working from home might be a more productive work environment than a traditional office cubicle depending on your arrangement. This working arrangement allows you to achieve a better work-life balance.

The present pandemic has altered the way we work, with more businesses opting for at-home solutions.

To ensure that your workers’ productivity remains at corporate standards for months to come, make sure they are comfortable, organised, and healthy.

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Albert
Albert, as Editor-in-Chief of RealBusi.com, emphasizes practical and real-world business insights, covering growth strategies and marketing innovations. His expertise shines through in the site's content, which blends thorough analysis with actionable advice, establishing RealBusi.com as a go-to source for professionals and enthusiasts.

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