Have you ever walked into the office and felt like not only time was slowing down, but your ability to work slowed down with it? You just stare at the clock and a blank computer screen, thinking “I could get so much more done if I was just doing this from home.” Well as it turns out, you’re probably right, as a study from Stanford has found that working from home actually does make one more productive.
In order to determine how working from home really does affect one’s productivity, the Chinese travel agency CTrip performed a nine-month long test, where they allowed several employees to work from home, where they had a private room and broadband Internet access. Those working from the office and from home had the same shifts, same manager, IT equipment, workload, and pay system. In other words, the only difference was where they worked.
As the tests discovered, performances actually improved in those telecommuting and working from their home offices. Performance improved by 13 percent, with around 9 percent more minutes logged in taking calls, and more calls made per minute, thanks to the quieter working conditions. Not only that, but those working from home could work longer, with half as much attrition in the telecommuting group, while still reporting improved work satisfaction. Those who remained at the office didn’t feel the fangs of the green-eyed monster that is jealousy, though, as their performances remained unchanged.
The firm also benefited financially from having employees work remotely, saving around $2,000 per employee. There was more food left in the break room, less power usage from the office, and so on, adding up to significant savings.
In spite of that, once the experiment ended, about half the employees who volunteered to work from home returned to the office. Many preferred the social aspect of interacting with co-workers, rather than the loneliness of working alone, while just as many liked being able to work from their own home office and avoid the distractions and office politics.
This test shows some worthwhile benefits of telecommuting, which should help to dispel the skepticism that still surrounds it. However, this is just one firm’s result, and the results could very well differ based on the kind of work, location, and attitudes towards work. For the most part, though, there are some clear perks to working from home.
As one who works from a home office, I can attest that there are some great benefits to it. I don’t have to deal with traffic on the way to work, I can take a lunch break to make a sandwich then get right back to writing, and I don’t have to deal with a cramped cubicle and making small talk around a water cooler just to buy some extra time. Still, there are some new distractions to replace the ones I’ve escaped, such as pets, other people in the house making noise, and the television’s blank screen staring at me as though it were saying “watch me… don’t you want to see the new episode of Adventure Time? It won’t take that much time…” (Don’t worry; I resist the temptation.)
In short, while whether or not working from home is desirable depends on the person in question, there are some clear benefits to it. Any companies opposed to telecommuting on the grounds that it would lower productivity should look at the test’s results, and reevaluate their position.
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Edited by Rich Steeves