Work from home productivity is higher than in the office, especially on individual tasks. Since most employees prefer hybrid or remote work, a policy of flexibility helps companies maximize both retention and productivity. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes the truth about work from home productivity.
Video: “The Truth About Work From Home Productivity”
Podcast: “The Truth About Work From Home Productivity”
Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast
- Here is the article: The Truth About Work From Home Productivity
- The book Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage is available here.
- You are welcome to register for the free Wise Decision Maker Course
Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the wise decision maker show where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. My name is Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, and I’m the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, which produces the Wise Decision Maker Show. Today we’ll talk about the truth about work from home productivity. This is a major question causing a lot of debates in companies of various sorts of organizations about whether workers should work in the office, whether workers should work fully remotely or whether they should work in a hybrid schedule. This is very important, of course, whether they are productive and where they are productive, where they are most productive. So are people productive in the office? Are they productive remotely? What does that mean? This is critical for leaders to make good decisions and for employees when they’re trying to sway their leaders, which decision to make. Now the key is that having good productivity in our new post COVID world requires the appropriate work arrangements. That doesn’t mean simply snapping your fingers and saying now we’ll work fully remotely, or now we’ll work in the hybrid modality or now we’ll work fully in the office, it means getting the work arrangements right. It’s not simply where you work, but how you work that matters, the techniques that you use. And the traditional techniques that used to work in the office don’t work so well for hybrid modalities and fully remote modalities, which is why some people have trouble getting their workers to be as productive as they could be. So that’s kind of another tricky question, how productive are workers? And are you using the right techniques to actually get them to be productive? So let’s think about which model is most productive. The Office centric model where people have spent four to five days in the office, the hybrid model where people spend maybe one to three days in the office, or the fully remote model, where people spend no time in the office. Now what we know, overall, from extensive research from the shutdowns in March 2020, even the research from before the shutdowns and continuing research on the companies that continue to work remotely, is that remote work really fully, fully remote work boosts productivity a lot. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should adopt fully remote work. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m here talking about the data. And then we’ll talk about the implications of the data dog, but we need to figure out what the data now that we learned is that our productivity advantage, we can obtain an environment abandoning traditional office based culture, traditional office based culture is not nearly as productive as other alternatives as remote alternatives, hybrid alternatives. We know that, and especially you don’t want to adapt hybrid based, office based activities, methods of collaboration, you don’t want to shoehorn them into hybrid and remote work, that simply does not work. Well. These traditional collaboration methods are something to preside over. What we know is that remote and hybrid teams overall, even using these traditional methods, outperform office centric teams, and they do so much better when you help them adopt best practices for hybrid and remote work, and how to collaborate together effectively in hybrid and remote work. But even if you use Office centric methods, they outperform overall, office based teams. Let’s talk about the facts. We know that the preferences of most employees are a combination of fully remote work and hybrid work. Depending on the survey, something like a third of all employees 30 to 40% want fully remote work somewhat more, maybe 40 to 50% want hybrid work, meaning one to three days in office, mostly closer to one day in the office. And then something like maybe 10 to 20% want office centric work. And then we’re of course talking about knowledge workers, office based workers, people who can work remotely and follow all of their time. And even people who can’t work remotely all of their time. Let’s say they’re a researcher, the orangery person who works in the office because they need to access physical equipment, they really, maybe need to go to the office only once a week to access that equipment and the rest of the research they can do at home. Now the same has been found about even things that are very much person based, like let’s say nurses, nurses, if you think about nurses have been in the hospital, right? No, that’s not necessarily for sale. There’s plenty of work that they do that’s digital, such as inputting various reports and so on, that they can be doing from home. And so hospitals that have been flexible in allowing nurses to work some of their time from home, have shown both increased productivity and increased retention, which is great. So working from home, we know boosts productivity in a whole variety of areas. That’s because it removes a lot of problems associated with the office. One of these is a lot of distractions. So people are quite distracted in the office, people are talking around them, especially in those open office environments. And they can’t, they don’t, they don’t have a very comfortable environment, there’s fighting over the thermostat, the food isn’t the grade that they get in a sad, the sad office lunch is not a thing people enjoy. So that said office salad and just generally said office lunch, not something that people enjoy. And so that is a problem. And another, even bigger problem, people report that in office issues are kind of the second biggest issue, the biggest issue is the commute. The commute, people spend over an hour per day commuting, that’s over an hour. So the actual average driving time, that’s over 50 minutes. And there is a bunch of time spent on preparing yourself to go out, you know, putting on nice clothing, putting on makeup, if you do that, putting on whatever other stuff. And then transitioning, getting all of your stuff together, transitioning from home, going to the office, getting yourself set up, booting up your computer, and so on. And then doing everything in reverse when you go home, that ‘s up over an hour per day. And we have very clear research that people are willing to spend more than a third of that time on their work, or their primary job. And whatever job you hire them to do. People are willing to spend that time. So that’s a lot of time savings that people are investing into doing more work. Working from home offers people a flexible work schedule. Now why is that beneficial for productivity? Well, because people have different levels of energy throughout their day. So different levels of energy. And the work environment in the office, that nine to five environment with the various rhythms throughout the day, doesn’t really suit many people, some people are more night owls, for example. And some people do better in them early in the morning. And they would prefer to get their work done more intensely during those periods. And so that flexibility allows people to balance their work with their energy, and they’re more productive. Therefore, another is balance with life. So when people work from home, they can be more flexible. And they can do various house joyful chores, taking care of their children and spending time with their family members during the sum total of nine to five times. And then they can work earlier or later to make up some of that time. And we know that people are much more satisfied as a result of that and more engaged with their work. And therefore they work better with happy workers, productive workers, and an ability to focus when you’re at home. Now this is not for everyone, you know, there’s a reason 10 to 20% of the people prefer to work full time in the office, they don’t have very good home environment setups. But if you have a reasonable home environment setup, you are much more able to focus than when you are in the office, if you don’t have your own private office space, which the vast majority of people don’t. So they are more able to focus, partially because there’s no noise, no distractions, partially because they’re in a more comfortable, convenient environment that sets up the way they want. And that is surprisingly important when you look at what helps people be focused and concentrate. What about certainty, so what the surveys say, surveys of employees, so workers say that 75% report, they’re equally or even more productive at home. So very high numbers of people are equally or more productive at home 55% report they work more hours from home than the office. So that’s a bunch of people who have equal hours. So that is really, really important for us to understand that. We have very clear evidence from extensive surveys of employees from mutual organizations like the Harvard Business School, Gallup Society for Human Resource Management, that show that employees are quite a bit more productive at home. And that’s not only from surveys, we have that from employee management software, some measuring tracking software that shows that employees are quite a bit more productive at home. And we have various experimental, peer reviewed research that shows that takes individual case studies and shows that employees are quite a bit more productive at home. And we know that employers who are surveyed agree, so 94% of employers, HR leaders in this case, said that work from home leads to higher or equal productivity from him. lawyers and this was a survey of 800 employers from the Society of Human Resource Management. So the Society for Human Resource Management looked at employee, employee years, HR leaders in this case, who know how productive their workers are because they can actually measure the numbers, given the day they manage human resources. And so we know that 94% said work from home led to higher or equal productivity for employees. So that is a very good invert, it’s very important. What about academic research just mentioned briefly, some academic research, let’s talk about it more than there was a Stanford University study that measured work from home by employees, and then found that in May 2020. So after the shutdowns, for a couple of months, work from home employees, people who are spending the time working from home, were about 5% more efficient, so 5% more efficient in their jobs. What about later onward that that efficiency changed or went up or went down? Well, people became more efficient at working from home, not less over time. In 2022, in two years, by the summer of 2022, they weren’t 9% more efficient, 9% more efficient than workers in the office. Why is that? Well, because people become better at working from home, they know how to collaborate better. So the techniques that they were using improved, they knew how to do that, and the technology improved. So the ways that they collaborated, improved the soil, and of course, their company policies improved. So the company knew how to work with them better, the leaders knew how to lead them better, all of those things improved. Now we have another randomized assignment study. So that we have I mentioned one earlier. So here’s another one that showed that work from home reduced attrition rates by 35%. And led to programmers writing 8% more lines of code. So what happened here was that there was a group of workers who were randomly assigned, WHO some to work from home and some to work on a hybrid schedule. So some work from home answered some to work full time from the office, and some to work on a hybrid schedule. So some spent some time working from home, some spent no time working from home, and the people who spent some time working from home. So in the hybrid schedule, they show that their attrition rate was greatly reduced by 35% 35%, better retention, that’s a wonderful, wonderful number. And then it led to more productivity. So this was looking, comparing productivity of programmers, marketers, and financial staff. And so these were the people who were randomly assigned, we know for all of them, attrition dropped. And we can take very objective measures of productivity. For programmers, it’s a little bit harder to measure it for the financial staff or marketing staff. But we know that for programmers writing lines of code is a traditional measure of productivity. And that productivity improved by 8%. Because these programmers spent some of their time working from home. Very important and very valuable study. Now, another thing to think about is that there’s been increased investment and support for working from home. That’s one of the reasons why people became 9% more productive at working from home by May 2022. By the summer of 2022, compared to May 2020. There was a University of Chicago study that showed that work from home will stick around due to these investments, both individual and company investments, individuals, on average, spent over 14 hours and $600, to adapt to working from home. So that’s a pretty sizable investment, if you think about it, 14 hours, and $600. And there were large scale investments by firms and back end it collaborative at various VPNs and so on virtual desktops and work from home equipment and office space, revising their office space, making it more collaborative, various work from home equipment that they provided to employees, microphones, video cameras, and so on that your headphones and various other things. So AV technology to enable hybrid meetings, for example, a number of my clients are, have worked on that quite a bit invested quite a bit of money, you’ll be surprised how much it costs, you know, for a large conference room, it can be as much as $500,000 to vary to upgraded to the newest highest level of working from home of hybrid meeting technology. So that’s important. Now, governments also plan to improve teleworking infrastructure. So that’s something for you to be thinking about. Some governments have done some improvements for teleworking infrastructure, and they plan to do more of it over time, which will help work from home. Okay, how do we make people more productive? If you’re working from home, let’s say you’re convinced that working from home is more productive and you want to do more work from home. What does that mean? What’s the best model for working from home? The best model is a hybrid first model, hybrid first model really shows that that’s been the best model. Overall, for working from home time. The goal is to put people first, so make sure that your people are accommodated and their needs are complemented. So hybrid first approach combines, and for most people, one day in the office, maybe two days if you need to do extensive collaboration, and full time remote work for those who want it. And for those who couldn’t be successful at it. And you’ll find that most people want to be in a hybrid mode, want to come to the office one day a week, you’ll find that, as I mentioned before, something like 30% Might want to be full time remote work. But they might want to come in once a month or something like that, you should definitely get them there once a quarter for a team retreat to build trust and connections. But most people will come in one day in the office per week. And that’s a hybrid first approach. So that is a hybrid first modality, which works best forever for most people. Because they’ll do their individual work at home, everyone, whether they’re fully remote or hybrid. In the office, they’ll focus on collaborative work, collaborative work, we know that individual work is much much more productive for a time, there’s no question about it. For the vast majority of us. collaborative work is more mixed. On average, it’s maybe a little bit more productive from home. But it depends on the type of collaborative work. If you need to do more intense collaboration, for most people it can be better off doing that in the office. So save that for the office, and more casual collaboration, you might want to do that from home. What are the best practices for this hybrid first model? One thing to think about is addressing proximity bias. And that’s a preference for those people who are in our immediate vicinity. That’s a concern for career mobility and a concern for favoritism where managers have been known to favor those people who are coming in most often. And that’s a problem because you’re kind of ratcheting. That’s putting pressure on people to come in, in a way that’s undue and unhelpful. And that causes people to leave companies, if they feel that they are a career that they will not be able to advance if they’re working full time remotely. Or if they’re coming in, if everyone’s if their team is supposed to, on average come in one day a week. And there’s some people who come in three to four days a week, and the managers give them promotions, because they’re the manager seeing them more often. That’s great. Next, maximize social capital. So you want to really be thinking about how to be deliberate about social capital, those sense of connections for friendships and social interactions. And you can do that for a number of activities like virtual coworking, where everyone plugs into a video conference session once a day, and works on their individual tasks. But you can ask questions on anything that you want to get feedback from the team about, it’s especially helpful for junior team members to integrate into the team. So this is a very helpful technique to build social capital. So that is something to be thinking about. How do you build social capital in a hybrid first modality? And then remote innovation, remote innovation includes things like synchronous virtual brainstorming, where you asynchronously engage in idea generation, a very useful technique. And I talked about that in some of my other podcasts for the wiser decision maker show. Now, the benefits of this hybrid first model, it’s clear that it gives companies a competitive advantage, we know that it boosts productivity, so it’s going to give you better productivity for your employees. For your team members. It’s much better overall, especially on that individual productivity for people who work from home and, and collaboration when people come to the office. So that’s really a very good technique. It improves employee retention. You remember that randomized assignment study, where people were assigned to work at least some of the Sunday time from home, and then all of their time, and some people worked all their time from the office and we know that retention is much much better for some for people who work on a hybrid mode rather than office centric mode. And overall, having that flexibility and accommodating people’s needs is very helpful for retention. Now we know that you have better innovation and collaboration have done the right virtually synchronous brainstorming generates more ideas and more novel ideas and traditional brainstorming. Collaboration. If you have the right collaboration like virtual coworking, you can collaborate effectively in remote settings even with people who are fully remote. So have that modality And you can do that and you can be effective at it. And of course, for people who are coming in once a week, you can collaborate with them in the office. And it helps employees to be more productive. As mentioned before, but also happier, we know that employees overwhelmingly feel happier 80% of employees 75 to 80% of employees feel happier if they have substantial opportunities to work from home. So if they can work from home more than half the week, and they also report better work-life balance, the same thing, you know, that people, over 80% of the people 80% of the people 75 to 80% of the people who want either hybrid work or fully remote work. And so this is what you want to give your employees better work life balance, better productivity, and make them happier, and you’ll retain them, and you’ll have good innovation and collaboration. So this will be really really good for your company’s and your organization’s bottom line. And that’s the truth about work from home productivity. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the wise decision maker show. Again, my name is Dr. Gleb support ski, you can email me with any questions at gleb at disaster avoidance experts.com. And disaster avoidance experts is the company that sponsors the wise decision maker Show. Check out the show notes, when there’s gonna be much more information about work from home productivity and citations to all the references that I gave about peer reviewed research and so on in the notes, so check those out. And please subscribe to the show. If you’ve enjoyed it, leave a review. It’s so helpful for other people to find the show. I’d really appreciate it, love to hear what you think again, email me and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the wise decision maker show. In the meantime, the wisest and most profitable decisions to you, my friends
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps tech and finance industry executives drive collaboration, innovation, and retention in hybrid work. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which helps organizations adopt a hybrid-first culture, instead of incrementally improving on the traditional office-centric culture. A best-selling author of 7 books, he is especially well-known for his global best-sellers Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019) and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). His newest book is Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in prominent venues. They include Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, Boston Globe, New York Daily News, Fox News, USA Today, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for mid-size and large organizations ranging from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from his research background as a behavioral scientist. After spending 8 years getting a PhD and lecturing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served for 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University’s Decision Sciences Collaborative and History Department. A proud Ukrainian, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks!). In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.