Remote Work Productivity Statistics
The jury is still out on whether working from home full-time can lead to more productive and engaged employees. A lot has changed in the past couple of years, and companies worldwide are still trying to figure out which types of jobs can be performed remotely on a long-term basis without negatively affecting productivity.
As exemplified below, some remote jobs show a steady and manageable increase in productivity levels compared to office work. On the other hand, there were remote positions that seemed promising in the beginning but failed to bring the expected results long-term. Here are the details:
Increased Productivity Among Remote Teleworkers
A Stanford study analyzed the performance of 16,000 people working as call-center operators or teleworkers. The study group consisted of both remote and in-office employees. After a period of 9 months, the collected data showed that remote employees were, as a whole, 13% more productive than those working from an office.
The study outlines one possible reason for this finding – remote workers tend to request fewer sick days compared to office workers. Instead of using up sick days, which can sometimes negatively affect their pay, remote workers chose to push through their sickness and continue working. The remote nature of their job allows them to work from the comfort of their homes, and the lack of commuting saves them the extra physical strain.
The fact that they took fewer sick days led to an overall increase in the number of minutes remote teleworkers spent on calls compared to office workers. The numbers, as revealed in the study, equal 9% more minutes per single shift or 4% more calls per minute in favor of remote workers. Adding those two numbers gave them the 13% increase in remote work productivity.
So, when it comes to call-center operators and teleworkers, the data somewhat clearly favors remote work settings. Remote employees are able to complete more calls, which according to their set KPIs, translates into them being more productive than regular office workers in this particular job area.
Completing Tedious Tasks Works Better at the Office
Before the term “remote work” came into play, there was another term associated with this type of work setting – telecommuting. These two terms are essentially interchangeable, meaning they are both used to describe the same thing. So, why are we mentioning telecommuting?
In 2012, a study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization analyzed 125 people on the effects of telecommuting on their productivity.
Purported findings were inconclusive, and the scope of the study wasn’t big enough to allow researchers to make broader claims regarding remote work productivity (in this case, telecommuting) and regular office work. But, the interesting thing that they did find, and that could still be applicable to today’s remote work settings, is that when it comes to completing boring tasks, the findings of this particular study favor regular office workers.
This means that any type of work that a specific employee finds boring or less engaging will, on average, take more time to complete in a remote setting as opposed to a regular office environment. The specific reasons for this are not detailed in the study, and the researchers behind it recommend further examinations.
What’s relatively safe to assume is that regular office workers might be more efficient at completing more boring tasks than remote workers due to increased and direct management oversight. Regular office settings allow managers to check up on their team members and their work in person, which may serve as an additional motivating factor that further encourages employees to complete tasks that they find boring or less engaging.
The same study shows a drop in productivity when all of the workers in a specific company choose to telecommute/work from home.
Having Remote Co-Workers Can Negatively Affect Employee Performance
A 2019 study examined the data from around 11,000 employees in Europe and found that teams with hybrid or remote co-workers exhibit poorer performance when compared to teams that operate in a regular office environment.
The main negative effects on performance that this study establishes and tries to contextualize are connected to the lack of shared norms and information, which increases the likelihood of conflict and antagonism between remote co-workers. These negative co-worker exchanges are some of the main reasons for decreased performance in remote work settings.
This study also stipulates that the more hours an individual employee spends working from home, the less productive they become. The findings greatly favor regular office workers, showing them as 70% more productive in comparison to remote employees, according to the data and methods used by the researchers for this particular study.
Now, it’s important to note that even though 2019 wasn’t that long ago, the world and the entire work landscape have changed a lot. A lot of the problems that this particular study talks about have been largely ameliorated by various types of remote work software.
Remote Work and Software Solutions
A more recent study, analyzing the data from around 800,000 employees over the period of two years, has concluded that a remote work setting does, in fact, increase or, at the very minimum, maintain the same level of productivity compared to a regular office environment.
This means that a remote work environment doesn’t lead to a decrease in employees’ performance and productivity levels. The performance and remote work productivity are either commensurable or increased in comparison to regular office levels.
Now, one thing that this study doesn’t talk about is the reasons behind its findings. Some researchers suggest that the cause of increased productivity might be connected to technological advances, especially when it comes to project management and time-tracking software.
Others believe that a larger talent pool, which remote work most definitely provides, is the main culprit of better productivity levels. Higher-quality employees produce better work and do so more quickly, leading to a general increase in performance and efficacy.
The Main Differences Between Remote and Office Work