written by
Zack Calloway

The Work from Home Productivity Debate: Is It Good or Bad for Your Business?

Remote Work Productivity 3 min read
Some bosses think their people do less when working from home

We’re all getting more familiar with remote and hybrid work — whether we want to or not.

The pandemic was the initial catalyst for many businesses going remote, and those immediate health crisis concerns are more or less behind us now. But a good percentage of employees who got the taste of working from home really, really don’t want to come back to the office full-time.

So the question many business owners are asking now is this: is work from home helping or hurting productivity and the bottom line?

Big corporations are divided: Apple and Google want people back in the office, even though many employees are vocally pushing back (or even resigning). Other firms (like Twitter) have announced they never plan to return to an in-office requirement for most roles.

To help shed some light, another big tech firm — Microsoft — commissioned a serious, wide-ranging survey on the topic. What they found may or may not surprise you, but it’s certainly worth talking about.

Microsoft’s Findings

Microsoft found in this 20,000-person survey that more than half of bosses believe that people are less productive when working from home. At the corporate level, the results were even more stark: roughly 80 percent of businesses think the same thing.

But Microsoft didn’t stop its survey at just bosses. They also surveyed the rank and file. And there, a whopping 87 percent self-reported being more productive at home than when in the office.

That’s a little bit confusing, to say the least.

So how do we explain this difference? Especially for creative, knowledge-economy businesses where output is trickier to measure?

We’ll try to answer this question from both the boss or employer’s perspective as well as that of the typical employee who enjoys working from home.

The Boss’s Perspective

Many people in leadership feel like these productivity claims don’t pass the smell test. If there’s no way to watch or check in on employees to make sure they’re doing what they should, then why wouldn’t employees try to get away with shenanigans?

You may love your employees and trust them pretty deeply, but if you’re accustomed to a fully in-office work culture, letting people work in (metaphorical) anonymity feels like a big, dangerous change.

Some bosses also haven’t received any real training in how to manage remote teams. The truth is that there are numerous day-to-day changes a manager must make when leading a remote team, and many managers feel unequipped to make those changes (or to even know what they are!).

The Employee’s Perspective

First, some perspective: Not every employee wants to work from home, and even those who love it may not want to do it exclusively. In many industries, some tasks are just better in person.

But still, 87 percent finding they’re more productive at home is significant. It’s worth looking at why they feel this way.

There’s the classic work-life balance: for many, taking a coffee break with the dog or the kids or the spouse is honestly a lot better than taking it with a random coworker. The same goes for having the flexibility to duck out early or step out for some time during the day without causing office drama.

Ditching the commute is significant for many, too. Even in a smallish market like Asheville and Hendersonville, reclaiming 30 to 60 minutes of every single workday is no small thing.

There’s also the sticky issue of the labor market. It’s pretty easy for skilled workers to find new jobs right now. If you’re leading teams that could work from home and you don’t allow that flexibility, those folks who really want to work from home will probably find an employer who will let them.

The Bottom Line

While we can’t tell you what’s right for your business, it’s pretty clear that, for many, hybrid or even fully remote is here to stay. If that’s true for you, it may be time to reassess your technology approach.

Do your team members have what they need to perform at their best?

What does your provisioning and onboarding process look like from a tech perspective?

Questions like these need answers. If you’re not sure how to navigate this new world for maximum effectiveness, we can help. Reach out today to learn more.

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