How productive is remote work?
This is the million-dollar question businesses have been constantly asking themselves. How productive is remote work? The idea of remote work has just recently become something people are embracing with open arms. A few years ago, the idea of remote work was just absurd. This was for a few reasons. One, the technology back then didn't have the support to maintain productive remote work activity. Two, managers and higher-ups felt that people would be too distracted and/or off-task working from home. How productive can remote work be in the long run?
Studies taken by Chandni Kazi and Claire Hastwell show that pre-pandemic, only 5% of American employees worked from home. By May of 2020, that number increased to 60%. After this big of a jump, questions began to stir in regards to the future of how and where work is done. How productive can working from home be? A two-year study by Great Place to Work® of more than 800,000 employees at Fortune 500 companies found that most people reported stable or even increased productivity levels after employees started working from home. One factor that increased productivity was the elimination of commute time and lengthy in-person meetings. This allowed employees more time to get situated and prepare for the upcoming workday, all from the comfort of their homes. They simply had more time to get things done.
Behind the analytics and numbers, there is another factor that has been shown to boost employee productivity. This would happen to be company culture. A strong company culture built around remote work yields positive results. From the months September-December of 2020, the term “positive atmosphere” was used to describe the company environment and how they accommodated remote work. While perks may have bolstered employee productivity through the early months of working from home, it was the camaraderie and positive culture that influenced longer-term productivity. Julian Lute, the strategic advisor for “Great Place to Work”, explains how important camaraderie is. He states,” “Camaraderie is like a secret weapon. When employees experience the nexus of great work, a powerful mission, and shared values, productivity soars.”
Lastly, the final piece as to how productive is remote work comes from strong leadership. Leadership is key to having order, organization, and successful work habits. This was shown on full display during the pandemic. Julian states, “When times are tough, leaders have the greatest opportunity to build trust. Their ability to navigate the complexities of the business, communicate effectively, and bring people along is more visible.” There must be a balance between stern and vulnerable when it comes to managing. Leaders must acknowledge their employee's needs and tend to them. This in turn allows them to work harder subconsciously. We all want to feel cared about, especially being stuck at home working all day. It is important as a leader to have strong communication, clear objectives, and superb organizational skills.
Productivity increases with remote work. It is that plain and simple. There are tons of studies that show how and why in different areas. Over the past year and a half, remote work has multiplied exponentially. This is the future of remote work. How can we continue to maintain productivity as well as simultaneously grow it?