When the COVID-19 pandemic meant that suddenly everyone was working from home, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered. Employees wondered if they would ever have a home life again. The fear was that their home would be an extension of their work, so it would feel like they never left their job.
It worried employers that since there was no one looking over their employees’ shoulders, employees will slack off. They worried that employees would use time that they should have used for working to look after their families, clean their homes, and perform other tasks.
Just the opposite of what people feared would happen has happened. Employees are loving the flexibility and freedom they now have working at home. Employers who take advantage of cloud-based tools to track their working hours and monitor their productivity of their employees notice that far from being less productive, employees working from home are now more productive.
Work from Home Productivity by the Numbers
Reports have shown that there has been a 41 percent increase in overall productivity since people started working from home. Employees who are working from home are spending 19 percent more time in external meetings. There is a 20 percent increase in internal collaboration.
All this likely stems from the fact that people miss interacting with other people. Meetings that were once thought to be a frustrating interruption in daily activities are now seen as a welcome opportunity to interact with others.
These statistics have led many CEOs from around the world to see the work from home experience as being an overwhelming success. Employees are more engaged. Their well-being has increased.
Researchers are surprised at just how well most workers are coping with working from home. Of the employees recorded in the survey, 75 percent of them said that they have either been able to keep their same level of productivity or improve productivity when it comes to individual tasks. Individual tasks would include things like writing presentations or analyzing data.
Reasons Why Remote Working Productivity Is so Important
During the first few months of the pandemic, little emphasis was placed on remote working productivity. Employers and employees were simply concerned with surviving. They were trying to adapt to the change and hopefully provide customers a level of service that would be considered passable based on the circumstances at the time.
It was believed that the pandemic and the subsequent work from home model was going to be temporary and that people would quickly get back to normal. As things stretched on, people realized that the pandemic and work from home models were going to be around for a while. The idea of the new normal became popular. Now, it seems like the pandemic’s effects are going to be felt well into 2021 and beyond. People are now thinking about the next normal. Herein is where emphasis is being placed on remote working productivity.
Organizations are trying to make decisions about how they are going to structure themselves, including how big of a physical footprint they will need as they come to grips with the fact that, at least white-collar workers, are going to be working from home for a while.
When remote work first became the norm in late March and early April, many people were struggling with it. They lacked the tech savviness to operate technology and lacked the self-discipline to keep themselves on task. However, the past eight months has been more than long enough for remote workers and their employers to get up to speed. Now, productivity is up and people are more engaged.
Not All Things Remote Work-Related Are Wonderful
Of course, there have been some downsides to remote work. People are happy because they have less commute time. People are content because they are spending less money eating out. However, most do not feel that the work situation now is better than what it was when they were working in an office.
Part of this stems from the anxiety that people feel about losing their job if the economy does not recover. Many people felt that they spent too much of their day using messaging tools, using videoconferencing, and sending emails. Thanks to the work from home environment, this has just increased.
When it comes to white-collar work, judging improved productivity is murky. There are several popular, user-friendly productivity apps that could help in tracking employees’ productivity levels when working from home. But some situations are tricky when it comes to measuring productivity. If a person had a job making widgets at home all day, productivity could be measured by comparing the number of widgets they are making now to what they made when they were in the office. However, if a person works as a consultant, it’s a challenge to judge productivity.
In some organizations, productivity can be easily measured. For example, a sales team can be judged on the number of the sales they make. Programmers can be judged by the lines of code they complete. But this only works in examples where the work is entirely output based. Otherwise, organizations need to trust that the people they have working for them are getting the work done.
Something else that has been lost is the informal meetings that people would have just bumping into one another in an office place. Now, every meeting needs to be formal. It needs to be scheduled, a call needs to be made, or a videoconference needs to be set up. On paper, an hour-long meeting on Zoom looks like it is productive. However, when all the work was done on site, the same information was probably transmitted via a 10 or 15 minute chat over coffee in the lunchroom.
Work from Home Equals Stress
It’s going to take some time before the true effect on productivity caused by the remote work environment is truly understood. People are working from home while under an unusual amount of stress.
They feel nervous to leave their home because they don’t want to get the coronavirus. A simple trip to the grocery store requires time spent disinfecting food, possibly taking a shower, and washing clothing. Children are also studying from home, so parents have to deal with those interactions. Once the pandemic is passed and if companies keep the work from home arrangement, then we will get a clearer picture on just how much working from home impacts productivity.