Remote Teams

Remote Working Culture: Productivity Killer or Enhancer?

September 8, 2022

We live in a world where killing productivity is so much easier than enhancing it. All you need is that one YouTube video or those 5 minutes on social media, and you’re gone – it’s already lunchtime with about zero tasks struck off your to-do list for the day.

On the other hand, enhancing the productivity of your team can be a challenge. It requires constant focus and attention; traits not many of us can boast about. 

The world now claims that working from home is an excellent solution to this, and that it resolves all the productivity issues at work, but does it? In fact, workers are so confident about it that 58% of employees in the US will look for a new position if they don’t get the option to work remotely. 

The truth is, employees have found a great work-life balance in this new working routine. Now, most of them are not interested in going back to the office. 

Prodoscore also backs this stating that remote employees are 47% more productive than in-office workers.

So, if employees are more productive in remote work settings, and they don’t want to move back to physical workplaces, why are so many managers, team leads, and tech billionaires (we’re looking at you, Elon Musk) pushing it? 

Let’s look at both perspectives to reach a conclusion.

Perspective #1: Working From Home Throws Productivity Down the Drain

Managers believe that employees slack while working from home, and they’re not entirely wrong. This tweet says it all:

In a physical workplace, you don’t have to do the household chores, or make coffee. And you certainly don’t watch that one episode of Friends just to relax during your work shift. 

WFH routines require a lot of discipline. Without discipline, employees are quite likely to find themselves in one or more of the following situations, which will eventually impact their productivity. 

“Waking up in a bit”

Not having to go to work is a blessing, but one wrong move and employees will end up slacking the entire day. Consider those sweet, additional 5 minutes of sleep after snoozing the alarm (the best bit of sleep, in our opinion). If you have to commute to work, the thought of having to reach the office in time pushes you to get out of bed. While working from home, that 5-minute nap could turn into hours before you know it. And by the time you get out of bed and sit down to work, it is already too late to manage the piling workload. This leads to additional working hours to compensate for the missed time, which in turn causes mismanagement.

Abby McCain from Zippia, a career planning platform, writes that 86% of remote workers experience burnout, rising from 51% at the beginning of the pandemic. And guess what causes burnout? Bingo! Work overload. 

The vicious cycle begins with one simple thing – getting out of bed on time. This is why managers push remote teams to maintain a dedicated shift using modern time-tracking solutions and follow it. This routine keeps employees punctual and gives them ample time to tackle the day’s workload.

“We’re out of milk. Can you go get it?”

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about taking in that daily dose of calcium, but it is distractions like these that break the momentum and impede productivity. This is just one example. Employees living with their families are bound to get distracted by one thing or the other, from loud music playing in the next room to the grumbling sounds of the lawn mower outside.

Michael Page, one of the world’s leading recruitment companies, agrees that avoiding distractions is among the most significant challenges to productivity when it comes to working from home. 

“I must have missed that memo”

We know that completing tasks on time is important, but so is maintaining employee relationships within the organization. Remote workers often tend to miss out on crucial information which gets lost in online communication. In fact, research suggests that 60% of remote workers lose information while coordinating on Zoom or Skype, especially when working in hybrid models. 

The infamous “I must have missed that memo” can actually be true in these situations of miscommunication.

In a Nutshell

Managers are always concerned while working with remote teams due to a number of reasons. They have to:

  • Ensure that the employee productivity levels don’t suffer
  • Ensure seamless communication between the team members
  • Use tools like time tracking and resource planning platforms to manage workloads, deadlines, efficiencies, and productivity levels of their employees

Perspective #2: Remote Working Culture is Bliss

Let’s look at the other side of the story and why employees across the globe are adamant that WFH enhances their productivity.

You’re not under surveillance

No one wants to be treated like a prisoner, but sometimes, employees working at a physical office do feel imprisoned. Managers often keep a close eye on break times, which is off-putting for the workers. Not to mention those awkward moments when supervisors casually get up to see what their employees are up to.

So does working from home remove these causal glances over employees’ desks from the equation? Well, yes and no – it depends on the tools you’re working with. Some time trackers and task management software undermine the liberty of remote working by allowing managers to put you under constant surveillance.

On the other hand, there are tools like timegram that operate with a zero-surveillance policy and give employees the liberty of logging work hours and tasks with honesty. This promotes a level of trust between managers and employees, encouraging the latter to become more efficient and productive.

A discussion posted on LinkedIn about employers tracking keystrokes and spying on every single move an employee makes through the day blew up. The key factor highlighted was the trust between the management and the employees. You trust them with their work, and they will deliver great productivity. If you micromanage and spy on them, it will backfire.

A better work-life balance

Most managers believe that working more hours means more output. However, the reality is quite contradictory. Numerous studies have reported that burnout (due to overworking) causes an employee’s productivity to plummet by a significant margin. 

One reason why many employees are keen on working from home is that they get to save time on the road. With little to no traveling involved, employees get to cut down working hours by at least 60 to 90 minutes.

Moreover, it gets tiring to travel to and from work, which adds to the fatigue accumulated throughout a workday. In the parallel remote work universe, getting off from work essentially means getting up from your home-based workstation (or the designated spot on the couch/bed, we’re not judging).

This gives employees ample time to rest and enjoy other equally important aspects of their life to invigorate their minds before starting work again the next morning. 

Productivity is off the charts

A study from Stanford found that employees working from home are 13% more productive than those working from office premises. Some people attribute this increase to a peaceful environment, while for others, it has more to do with a sense of accountability (they feel trusted!). 

In fact, Chegg’s Senior Executive, Nathan Schultz, once admitted in an interview that he initially used to keep eyes on employees, making sure they were working, but once he stopped, his team’s productivity went up. Several studies have reiterated this and proven that remote teams often complete tasks in shorter time frames, provided that they are trusted with their work.

So, What’s the Verdict?

There is no right answer to whether a remote working culture enhances productivity or hinders it. It depends entirely upon the approach you take. Managers that create a bubble where employees are not acknowledged or are spied on are bound to see greater employee turnover and diminishing productivity in their teams, regardless of whether they’re remote or on-site. 

The key to productivity lies within healthy work environments. For example, managers who use time tracking solutions like timegram provide their teams with full autonomy in reporting. However, such culture (and tools) can only thrive where employees and managers share a mutual bond of trust. 

How Does timegram Help Increase Employee Productivity?

timegram is a time-tracking and resource planning solution that promotes a task-driven, productive work environment by enabling your team to:

  • Enjoy a zero surveillance policy, which means no screenshots, no keystroke tracking, no microphone monitoring, and definitely no webcam captures
  • Complete projects within deadlines as tasks are assigned to match each employee’s efficiency levels and working capacity
  • Have a distraction-free environment where employees get to stay laser-focused on their work, instead of starting and stopping timers for every single task
  • See their productivity trends and optimize their work schedule to deliver maximum performance

timegram also creates actionable insights for managers using which you can allocate the right projects to the right resource for on-time deliveries. Its user-friendly UI and seamless time-tracking make things even simpler for both managers and their teams. 

Want to give it a try? Sign up now and become one of the productive people to benefit from timegram.

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Umer Asad

About the author

Umer is a creative geek, a soccer enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed standup comedian. He brings over half a decade of writing experience to the table with a knack for the SaaS niche. In his free time, you’ll find him in queues at fast food chains, playing PUBG, or doing adventure traveling.

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