The Million Dollar Question: Are People More Productive from Home?
< 30 July 2020 >
Let’s face it – work from home (WFH) is no longer an option. Even companies that shied away from it in the past due to concerns around productivity must now switch to WFH. This move is essential to your long-term business continuity plan as well as for employee safety – but how do you ensure that you hit your productivity targets in the short term?
Are our fears around productivity loss when working from home well-founded? And if so, how can companies counter it?
Let’s first rewind a little and consider how home-working could influence our productivity. As per Glassdoor’s survey, 50% of employees believe that they would be equally or more productive working from home. This makes sense, as employees can choose to log in at their most productive hours. There are no distractions from colleagues – overlong meetings, a noisy workplace, etc. And, you aren’t wasting any time on the commute.
Yet, going by the numbers, half of the workforce also feels that their productivity could take a hit due to WFH. that’s because home-working comes with its own distractions like someone watching TV, childcare, and necessary interactions with family members. Nearly a third of respondents on the Glassdoor survey said that they would be distracted by someone watching TV when WFH.
And let’s not forget that these are unusual times. The rules of WFH right now, vs. in a pre-pandemic context are very different. Employees can’t walk to the neighbourhood pub or attend a weekend concert to refresh themselves after long hours of working at home. The resulting senes of fatigue could also bring down productivity.
Interestingly, those who are already used to WFH from before the outbreak will find it easier to stay productive. Nearly one-third of new remote workers have seen a negative dent on their productivity, compared to only 13% of experienced remote workers, reports Slack. That’s because the latter set is accustomed to WFH’s own patterns of productivity, breaks, and refreshments.
At the end of the day, your WFH productivity levels during COVID-19 would depend on the following factors:
- Have you worked from home extensively in the past?
- Has your company put in place concrete measures to fight the sense of isolation and cut-off-ness that would inevitably arise from remote work?
- Do you live with several family members and dependents who require your time?
- Are their associated factors that could prove distracting like financial worries or health scares?
Apart from these variables, it is recommended to have a solid routine in place to channel your efforts, attention, and capability in this period of crisis. An established time of starting work, a scheduled check-in with your colleagues, a fixed lunch break, and disconnecting after your shift are some of the simple but effective measures you can take to maintain productivity. Any change will derail us for some time, but proactive steps taken early on can help to keep business going as usual, as much as possible.
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