Relationship status (with the office): it’s complicated.
Some people are absolutely married to the idea of working from the office (who are you people?) while most look at it with complete disdain, never wanting to go near it again (just admit it, you’re part of this group too).
We can name a hundred different surveys showing that most of today’s global workforce prefers working remotely, and then a hundred more proving that these people are actually more efficient and productive.
Nicholas Bloom’s TEDx talk: Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home
Research has proven that people who work from home:
- Spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive
- Work one more day a week
- Take fewer sick leaves
- Are 47% more productive
- Are less likely to leave a company
- Prefer working remotely for the rest of their life
Wonder why this is the case? Ask yourself: if you had the chance to work from the comfort of your home with minimal distractions and maximum productivity, wouldn’t you take it too? That is exactly what’s happening here. And while most people were on the defensive about remote work at the beginning of the pandemic, perspectives have taken a turn for the better now, as suggested by the data below.
Here’s how remote work has turned the “office productivity” debates upside down and convinced the world that out of sight does not mean out of mind:
1. The Obliteration of Commute Fatigue
In a research paper titled, The Remote-Work Phenomenon, published by Steven J. Davis, the author presents findings of a 2021 survey conducted by WFH Research. The findings indicate that the biggest advantage to remote employees is the time, energy, and money they save on daily commute.
“Three-quarters or more of the productivity gains that we find are coming from a reduction in commuting time,” says the author. When there’s no commute involved, employees are better able to focus on work with fresh minds because they’ve been saved from the rush hour and the metro hassle.
Another study by The Productivity Commission emphasizes the same thing and goes on to explain that, “Saving on the commute enables workers to undertake other activities — such as extra work, spending time with family, and other domestic tasks”.
In a podcast with KNX News, Davis mentioned that one-third of the time saved on commute was spent on productive work, and the rest of it served as quality family time as well as for recreation.
How does this make your employees more productive? Well, in a nutshell:
- It gives them more time for work
- It reduces the tiredness associated with commute
- It gives employees time to focus on mental and physical well-being
- It allows them to spend quality time with family and relax their minds
2. Lesser Distractions: Focus Where It’s Really Needed
Some would argue that working remotely has a higher ratio of distractions, but Steven Davis disagrees. He has done major research on working from home from different angles over the past years. In his aforementioned podcast, he said that these distractions are a bit exaggerated and much lesser than those in the office.
There’s the infamous “water-cooler talk” in the office that no one can escape unless you want to be perceived as a socially awkward person. From that stems the unavoidable office politics that almost no sane person wants to be part of but gets hauled into anyway. And then we have the valid commotion of all the activity around us because hey, we’re not the only ones working there (or loitering).
Now if you’re working from home, none of this exists. Sure, there might be some household noise but that’s comfortable noise which most people can work around. A perfect sitcom example of this is basically the whole show, The Office. The amount of disruption caused by Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute is a realistic situation in most offices.
Remote workers have reported that they are:
- Less distracted by co-workers
- Spending 30 minutes less talking about non-work topics
- Spending 7% less time talking to management
The Productivity Commission supports this conclusion and found that working from home increased employees’ ability to concentrate on tasks due to less interruption by colleagues and an environment of their choosing.
3. Better Work-Life Balance Leading to Productive Mindset
“Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time. Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time. Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time. It’s time we gave this some thought.”
- R. Buckminster Fuller
Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer and Inventor
- New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, and some other countries known for flexible working arrangements have reported major productivity gains by providing a better work-life balance to their employees.
- Chris Chancey, career expert and CEO of Amplio Recruiting, says that, “Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce”.
- In a survey by Ergotron, 75% respondents reported a better work-life balance when working from home.
To what do we owe this increase in balance and how does it make employees more productive?
When we have the option to work flexibly, we can better schedule our home and work tasks in ways that best suit our ultradian rhythms – our personal productivity cycle. If employees have the flexibility to organize their tasks around this, they can take advantage of their productivity peaks and slumps, and hence be way more productive than they would be stuck in an office straight for 8 hours.
Working from home makes it more possible for employees to take equally productive breaks and make their saved time matter by engaging in activities which allows their minds to refresh and restart – something that’s not very possible in the office. And of course, productivity automatically follows when this happens.
Recommended Reading: Going Remote? These 4 Tips Will Help Manage Your Team
4. Nothing Gets Missed: On-Record Communication
We’re not saying that everyone is super happy and productive and no one struggles with working remotely. Instead, most of us have struggled, learned hard lessons, and have gotten so much better at it that we don’t want to return to the office anymore because work-from-home life is that much more productive.
One of the things we all had to learn was to communicate differently. Over the past years, most employees have learned not just to communicate differently, but more efficiently too. We can’t just show up to someone’s desk and disturb them in their window of productivity only to later forget what was discussed and have to disturb them again.
In remote-work life, we’ve learned to keep a record of all correspondence so we can get back to it when later needed. Most communication is done via emails and platforms such as Teams, Slack, Google Chat, etc. so everything stays on-record anyway.
To put it simply:
- Video and audio calls can be recorded (no one needs to take down meeting minutes right then and there)
- Memos can just be emailed out (we save paper too!)
- Most discussions do not require physical presence (in fact, who wants the uncomfortable eye-contact and small talk?).
5. Collaboration Perks: More Productive Tech Tools!
When working remotely, we can just exchange our whiteboards and erasers for virtual tools. No one’s used to handwriting anymore anyway.
As the remote work scenario evolved, so did the technology facilitating it. In fact, Erik Brynjolfsson from Stanford and Georgios Petropoulos from MIT found that the pandemic has “compressed a decade’s worth of digital innovation in areas like remote work into less than a year.”
With all the collaboration tools that Microsoft and Google have been rolling out and other platforms such as Slack, communication and collaboration are only becoming easier! If we can fully embrace these solutions, we’ll see a much more productive collaboration culture. Most businesses already support these tools and now prefer using these over traditional pen and paper or whiteboard even while working from the office.
Insights by McKinsey & Company have found that, “Digital collaboration tools are primed to play a critical role in enabling workers to tap into the collective knowledge of the enterprise, solve problems with experts remotely” and that they lead to a boost of at least 20% to 30% productivity-wise.
And that’s the end of this debate. We can no longer argue that remote work is unproductive; in fact, there’s plenty of proof above that it serves to boost productivity by a drastic margin.
Still Concerned? Try timegram!
As with everything, it is important to keep in mind that any practice can only be productive as long as we facilitate the productivity. And to facilitate remote productivity, our answer is timegram!
timegram gives you all the tools you need to ensure your team is working at its productive best. How do we know this?
As a wise man once said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." (Peter Drucker, business consultant and professor)
Juan Salas from Celerative writes about the specific metrics to measure and improve your team’s productivity. He mentions:
- Tailored and efficient use of KPIs, organization and monitoring of projects + tasks;
- Timely feedback from HR and team leads;
- And proactive spaces for feedback, performance analysis, and training”.
Fortunately, these are all the features that timegram offers in one holistic dashboard.
- Need to plan + allocate projects and organize subtasks? Use timegram!
- Need to set and evaluate KPIs? Try timegram!
- Need to monitor time and activity to ensure productivity? Did we mention timegram?
- Need to analyze performance and give feedback? timegram to the rescue!
- Need to make your life easier? timegram your way to productivity!
In short, timegram is the way to go if you want to make the most of your remote teams and reap the undeniable productivity perks of flexible working!