Strategic HR

Can Allowing Remote Work Improve Productivity?

When employers consider allowing remote work or hiring freelance contractors, they often have the fear that productivity may drop as a result. They fear that allowing someone to work from home will result in more distractions. After all, the TV is there, the laundry needs to be done, the dog needs a walk, etc. They may even fear that less direct supervision will bring out the worst in people, and they’ll end up with employees who oversleep, hardly work, take extended lunch breaks, and more. But more and more organizations are finding that is simply not the case. In fact, they’re finding that allowing employees to work remotely (and/or hiring freelancers) can improve productivity—both for the individual and for the organization. Let’s look at a few of the reasons why.

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Remote Work Can Actually Increase Productivity

Here are some of the reasons why allowing remote work can improve productivity:

  • Work often starts earlier. Often, employees who don’t have to commute get started on their work earlier or are able to work more hours because they don’t have to rush to avoid traffic. Not having to battle a morning commute means less of a chance of starting the workday late. It also means that bad weather won’t affect that person’s ability to work that day (assuming the weather is fouling up driving conditions but leaving communication lines intact, of course).
  • More time for healthy options. The lack of commute may also mean that employees who work remotely may have more time for sleep and exercise, resulting in employees who are in better health and getting more rest—both of which improve productivity and mood.
  • Fewer distractions and better focus. Distractions may actually be decreased because interruptions from coworkers are minimized. Employees may be more able to concentrate at home, where the working environment can be controlled.
  • Fewer absences. Absences may decrease because employees who can work remotely can manage their day around miscellaneous tasks that would have otherwise forced them to leave early or take the day off, like being home for a contractor or going to an appointment. It can also reduce illnesses and related absences at the workplace because workers are not near one another, and thus, they won’t spread germs as quickly.
  • Shorter time to hire. Utilizing a remote workforce may make it easier to fill roles, which can speed time to productivity for a position that comes open.
  • Employee autonomy can help productivity. Remote work often allows employees to feel they have more autonomy over their workday, which can also increase their productivity. This is especially true if the employee also has flexibility over the time of day he or she completes work. Employees who can work remotely may feel happier in their jobs, which can lead to improved productivity, too.
  • Increased communication out of necessity. Employees who can work remotely are often keenly aware that they need to keep up their office presence and, therefore, are more likely to communicate more often than they would have done from the office.

Naturally, allowing remote work requires careful consideration and thoughtfulness. But fears of lost productivity may be unfounded.