That’s the big question that prevented a lot of employers from offering remote work options for their workers for a long time. Now we are in the largest remote-work experiment ever conducted, and the results are in. Workers feel just as productive or more while working from home than they did when they were in the office.
A recent survey from JDP of over 2000 U.S. workers sought to understand employee productivity from home, including details about how they are working. The results paint a largely positive picture of the at-home situation and provide hope that our workforces will continue to be able to work from home and stay safe.
When asked how productive they were at home, 26% of respondents indicated they were as productive as they were at work. However, 41% said they were more productive, and 33% said they were less productive. Put another way, 67% indicate they are at least as productive when at home, if not more than when they were at their physical jobs.
One of the remote-work realities many have had to deal with is new types of distractions. That largely includes children, pets, and other family members at home while working. The research found that 54% of people felt they were more distracted at home, with 29% saying they had more distractions at their worksite. Only 17% said the distractions were about the same.
Taking Advantage of Freedom
The survey asked if employees were taking advantage of their freedom while working remotely. In this question, “taking advantage of” was not characterized as inherently good or bad. Whichever way it was meant, 14% said they had not taken advantage of their freedom while working remotely at all. Another 54% said they had a little bit, and 32% said they had quite a bit.
Another 85% of respondents indicated that they believed their coworkers have been taking advantage of being remote. There were no questions to find out how this 85% had arrived at that conclusion.
Time Spent Working
Researchers wanted to get an understanding of whether at-home workers were working more or less than when they were at their work sites. One quarter showed it was the same number of work hours. Another 42% said they were working less than usual and 33% said they were working more than usual.
Why working more? Among those that indicated they were working more than usual, the number one reason (49%) was because it is hard to keep boundaries between work and home life. Another 42% said that there was more work to be done than usual. A small percentage (9%) showed that they were trying to be extra valuable so they wouldn’t lose their jobs.
Why working less? Among those that work less than usual, 45% said it was because there was simply less work to be done. Another 40% said it was because it was hard to focus at home. Finally, 15% said it was hard to focus on work with everything going on in the world.
One area of change created by the pandemic is the hours of normal work. Many have had to take unusual or broken schedules to account for child care and other real-life responsibilities that happen concurrently with work.
This research reflected that change with 30% saying they start, and finish, work earlier than usual. Another 28% said they start, and finish, work later. Finally, 19% said they have to start earlier and finish later than before. Just under a quarter (23%) said things are the same as ever.
Trust is what this whole experiment comes down to. Do employers trust their employees to do their work and stay focused while at home? Do employees trust their employers to give them the respect they need to work comfortably from home?
Employees were asked if their boss trusts them to work from home. The majority (49%) said that their bosses totally trust them. Another 43% said that they do mostly trust them. Only 7% said not really, and a scant 1% said not at all.