According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29 percent of Americans can work from home, including one in 20 service workers and more than half of information workers. Although many companies were slowly heading in the direction of allowing remote work for many of their workers, COVID-19 has forced them to accelerate the trend. Wherever possible, employees have urged their companies to provide an opportunity for remote work, and employers had to quickly figure out the logistics, security
The move to remote work was inevitable, even though it was rushed. For those managers and organizations worried about a drop in productivity from allowing employees to work from home, there have been multiple studies and experiments showing that productivity actually increases when workers are given a choice to work remotely. The Harvard Business Review shows what happened in an experiment at Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency.
With every other factor kept as consistent as possible — the same shift period, the same workgroups, under the same managers, logged on to the same computer system, with the same work-order flow and compensation structure — the only difference between the control group and the experiment group was that the latter was working from home.
The results? The performance of the home-workers went up dramatically in nine months by 13%. There was a reduction in the number of breaks and sick days that they took. The home-workers were also more productive per minute due to the quieter working conditions at home.
Additionally, the rate of staff turnover fell sharply for the home-workers, dropping by almost 50% compared to the control group. The home-workers also reported substantially higher work satisfaction and less “work exhaustion” in a survey.
If you started working from home during the pandemic and were pleasantly surprised by the process and results, you may have a case for moving to a permanently remote role.
Collect your wins
Hopefully, you won’t have to work hard to convince your boss that you were being productive during this time. While managers should make an effort to provide extra support to employees right now and prevent burnout, they are probably under a lot of pressure themselves. It’s best to keep a record of your accomplishments and track how productive you are working from home. And if you do need help getting your productivity levels up, check out the following resources:
- Get Sh*t Done: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity, Procrastination, & Profitability by Jefferey Gitomer
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Additionally, check-in regularly with your manager and keep them up to date on your work.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in solo work while working remotely, simply because there aren’t as many opportunities to socialize as in the office. For example, it’s easy to have impromptu discussions and collaborate on ideas when everyone’s in the same location. Because working remotely does not present the same opportunities for teamwork, you have to make a dedicated effort to be present for your team and for leadership. It may feel weird to message someone and ask them how their day is going or take a few minutes to ask after everyone in a meeting before getting down to the agenda, but it is thoughtful actions like this that’ll show your team that you are present and engaged.