6 Reasons Remote Work Can Increase Employee Productivity
One of the major obstacles to long-term remote work was the employer’s fear that if people were allowed to work from home, productivity would suffer. There have been indications that this is not the case, but on a small scale.
The shift in work conditions that the pandemic has caused can, at least, help assuage these fears. Both major and minor companies have transferred a substantial number of their staff to remote positions, without seeing a drop in efficiency; quite the opposite, they report an increase in worker productivity.
There are many metrics used to measure productivity, but the most common are the quantity and the quality of the work being done. If the quality of the work is lacking, other employees must spend their time supervising or fixing problems, leading to less output.
If the quality is good, but the output is low, productivity will also suffer. The combination of good quality and quantity is what leads to increased productivity, and remote work has shown to improve both. Here are 6 reasons why that is.
Employees Are More Motivated
Studies have shown that employees consider remote work a benefit, so much so that they are willing to take pay-cuts to retain their positions. Companies report higher job satisfaction for remote workers, which leads to increased motivation.
Employees that are motivated produce better results. Remote workers spend around an hour and a half more at their workstations than their office counterparts each month. They are also more focused, making the work they do of higher quality. More hours spent working and the higher quality of the work being done, for the same amount of resources invested by the employer, is a clear net positive.
Additionally, higher satisfaction leads to less worker attrition and turnover. Hiring and training new staff is a huge investment of time and resources for any employer, and remote positions significantly decrease the need for this.
Remote work helps retain experienced workers, which is a productivity boost in and of itself. Better retention, combined with longer working hours on average and the increase in output quality, leads to substantially better productivity levels overall.
Productive Work Environment
The immediate physical surrounding affects a person’s mental state – the environment can be either conductive or detrimental in terms of productivity. Employers invest substantial finances into making their office a space where people can easily concentrate.
Yet, people are different, and so are their preferences. What makes one person relaxed may make another anxious, and with a large staff, it is difficult to find the optimal solution. In a communal space, someone will have to accept a less than ideal work environment.
Remote work allows employees to customize their personal space however they wish. Certain things which cannot be done in an office – painting the walls a pleasant color, keeping overly personal items that help you stay motivated on your desk, and similar, are all viable options when working remotely.
A workspace that helps the employee relax will also allow them to focus better, leading to higher productivity. It may take time for people to find the solutions that work for them, but that is a good investment if it helps the worker focus.
What’s more, the burden of optimizing the office is no longer on the employer, but on the employee. The funds and time invested in making the office a suitable work environment can now be diverted into acquiring better tools to make employees more efficient.
Flexible Schedule and Optimizing Peak Hours
For remote work to function, employees must be given certain liberties when organizing their schedules. The set work-hours that working in an office entails are hard to achieve from home, and employers must show trust in their employees and allow them to adjust their schedules, when necessary.
If given the proper tools and right guidance, employees can greatly increase their productivity when allowed a flexible schedule. They will not have to soldier on when they catch themselves slowing down, but can take prolonged breaks, and get back to work when they feel fresh and capable.
Every person has peak hours – the time when they are the most focused; it is usually 2, or 3 hours per day when all the tasks get done much quicker than normal and complex tasks seem simple.
For some, their peak hours are early in the morning, while others work better at night, or at some time in-between. Allowing employees to work remotely and giving them the freedom to adjust their schedules will allow them to do the hardest tasks when they are at their most productive.
Utilizing the peak hours of employees properly will lead to a significant boost in productivity. While the regular office workday may align with the hours when they work best for some, it is likely not the case for most. Remote work permits workers to adjust their schedules so that they are always at their best, increasing the quality of their work.
Remote Work Provides Fewer Distractions
An office is usually packed with people, working in close proximity to one another. Such a large group of people is bound to cause many unnecessary distractions. Whether it is someone coming over for a chat, or a co-worker’s habit that can be annoying – slurping coffee, banging their keyboard, or just talking loudly – all of these things can make a worker lose focus.
When a person gets distracted at work, not only does it take away time from the workday, it also forces them to refocus. Regaining lost focus takes mental effort, and can only be done a certain number of times per day before frustration adds up.
When working remotely employees will not have the option to go socialize in the cafeteria, or at the water cooler. This may be undesirable for people who do like to socialize at work, but it will leave more time to spend on their duties.
Working remotely comes with its own set of challenges – work and personal life become intermingled, and it will take effort to organize a workday in such a way that it maximizes productivity.
Unlike in an office, these are all distractions that can be managed. While an employee cannot go around the office demanding that everyone acquiesce to their needs, at home they can set boundaries and communicate with the household, allowing them to optimize their workday.
Working remotely will lessen the number of things that distract workers, if they are organized properly, and will allow them to be more productive than if they were working from a standard office setting.
Less Sick Days and Time Off
Office spaces are usually not very expansive, and the limited space forces employees to be in close proximity to each other. If one person gets sick, which must happen at some point, and still decides to go to work thinking that it is not that big of a deal, the disease easily spreads.
When many employees take sick days, even if just 2 or 3 per month, it can severely affect productivity. Regardless of how much care you take to remain healthy, it is inevitable that you will get sick at some point if working in an office setting.
Conversely, working remotely lessens physical contact between people, lowering the chance of a disease spreading to larger groups. You will still be in direct contact with members of your household, but that number is much lower than the number of co-workers on an office floor.
Even if a person does not take time off when sick, they are likely more tired and lethargic than usual, reducing their output. Remote work lowers the chance of employees needing to take days off due to illness, increasing the overall productivity of the company.
Additionally, remote workers report higher job satisfaction, which directly translates into less time off being taken, even when healthy. Job attrition is lessened, lowering the desire for holidays and other relaxing activities.
When we combine these two factors, it shows that when working from home employees will spend more days working, increasing the quality and quantity of their output.
Commuting takes up a lot of time, with multiple reports stating that in urban areas travel to and from work can take up more than an hour daily, on average. Remote work eliminates travel time, and expenses, allowing workers to focus on their jobs.
Employees can use the time usually spent on commuting to get a head-start on their daily tasks. More hours spent at the workstation will, naturally, lead to higher productivity. When the time used on actually preparing to get to work is taken into account, it shows that no commuting can save employees more than 2 hours, and that time can be used for work.
Simply getting to work on time – starting early, choosing the routes, traffic – is a significant source of stress for workers. When they are not forced to manage such things they are more relaxed, allowing them to be better focused at work.
Commuting may seem like a small contributor to lower productivity, but when considering all of the factors combined, it is not insignificant. When working remotely, employees can spend more time at their workstations and stay focused for longer periods, leading to higher output.
These are the 6 reasons remote work can increase employee productivity and benefit both employers and their staff. The shift to remote positions may take time and financial investment, but it is worthwhile if it leads to higher profits. Hence, employers should strive to enable their employees to work remotely, where possible.
As remote work becomes more and more prevalent, the number of these positions will continue to increase, and employers would be wise to maximize the positive effects that remote work can have on the productivity of their employees, and not fight the change.
How To Build an Efficient Remote Team
5 Ultimate Tips for Working from Home
A single place for all your apps. Be more productive.
Coming to terms with working from home? Try FOCOS, prepare for the future of work.