Thanks to the explosion of mobile technology in the 21st century, working remotely is now easier than it’s ever been for almost any employee. With simple and accessible tools such as mobile email, cloud-based file sharing and video-conferencing via the web, people working from home can take advantage of many of the conveniences of their in-office colleagues. It sounds like a no-brainer; why shouldn’t we allow workers to sidestep the headaches and costs of the daily commute as long as they’re still quickly and easily reachable?
However, many managers are still wary of allowing employees to work from home, citing their biggest fear as a drop-off in productivity due to the lack of a traditional office structure.
Studies Have Shown Working from Home Can Make People More Productive
Several studies, such as a recent one by a Stanford University Professor of Economics, have shown that productivity from employees who were allowed to work at home increased in certain situations. The Stanford experiment tracked thousands of call-center workers at a Chinese travel agency called Ctrip, and found that working from home led to a 13 percent rise in productivity, encompassing increases in both minutes per shift and calls answered per minute. According to the research, the performance increases were attributed to the at-home employees taking fewer breaks and sick days, as well as benefiting from a more convenient and quieter workspace.
Know Your Team’s Limitations
These findings definitively show that it’s possible for employee productivity to increase while working from home, but there are still several factors that need to be considered before making a decision to implement telecommuting as a standard company practice. Firstly, this research was performed with call-center employees, whose performance statistics are relatively consistent and easy to track. Trying to gauge productivity in a profession with more nebulous performance metrics may require additional research. Additionally, many employees may lack the self-discipline necessary in order to thrive in a less-structured environment such as the home office. It’s crucial to evaluate and understand your specific situation when considering whether working from home is right for your company.
Whatever your decision, consider hiring a professional facilitator whose skills and expertise can help you engage and motivate employees, hold more productive meetings and streamline your business processes.
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