Does Working From Home Lead to Increased Productivity?

The evolution of the workplace has been accelerated by the recent shift towards remote work, prompting leaders to reassess traditional paradigms and explore the intricate relationship between productivity and working from home. As we chart the course for the future, the question looms large: Does working from home truly lead to heightened productivity?

Honestly, research results are inconclusive. A number of studies have shown that working from home leads to increased productivity, while other studies have shown it leads to decreases in productivity. According to a survey by WFH Research, about 40% of workers reported better productivity working from home than in the office, with an average productivity increase of 7%. A pre-pandemic 2010-2012 study found a 13% increase in productivity in work-from-home employees. However, some newer studies have shown decreases in productivity from remote workers, such as a study that found workers randomly assigned to remote work had an 18% decrease in productivity.

So what are we to make of this? I suspect that there’s not a cut-and-dry answer, and differences may have to do with the individualities of the organization and its workers. Highly motivated people can work productively from home or an office, and some individuals may find they have better productivity in one environment over another.

As someone with a fully remote business, I’m a big fan of work-from-home for several reasons. In my experience, hiring remotely dramatically increases the talent pool you’re able to hire from. It significantly reduces costs associated with providing office space. And it can even increase efficiency and, yes, productivity, if managed well.

Here are a few contributing factors that benefit employees and can contribute to increased productivity:

1. Providing a Better Environment for Focus

The days of office workers working from cramped, gloomy cubicles are waning. Working from home allows employees to set up their work environments for their own comfort and focus. That means they can sit by a window to get some sunshine, close their office door to minimize noise and interruptions, heat their office to their desired temperature, and create the right ergonomic conditions for their preferences.

These may seem like small things, but an office environment provides many small distractions through physical discomfort, noise, and interruptions that can be eliminated by working from home, making the employee happier, more comfortable, and better able to focus.

2. Improving Mental and Physical Health

The health of your employees makes a significant difference in their ability to do their best work, and working from home could make them healthier mentally and physically. They have better resources available to eat nutritious meals during the workday, as well as the ability to exercise more easily, whether that’s taking a walk around their neighborhood or working out during their breaks in the comfort and privacy of their home.

Mentally, the environment of home, with enrichments and comforts like pets, houseplants, or even just a personalized space, contributes to improved mental health. According to Owl Labs, remote and hybrid workers are 22% happier and reported lower levels of stress and better physical and mental health.

3. Creating Better Work Satisfaction

Perhaps the biggest contributor to increased productivity and the best benefit of remote work to both employee and employer is the increased job satisfaction remote work provides. Workers cite lack of commute and flexibility of scheduling as top reasons for desiring remote work. Research shows that it helps employee motivation and enhances work/life balance.

Employees enjoy their job more knowing that they are trusted by their employer to do the job they were hired to do. Having clear accountability and lines of communication in place further solidifies this trust and reinforces employees’ sense of responsibility and ownership over their work.

When employers demonstrate confidence in their team members’ abilities and provide them with the autonomy to execute their tasks, it fosters a positive work culture built on mutual respect and collaboration. This trust not only enhances job satisfaction but also strengthens employee loyalty and commitment to the organization’s goals.

Additionally, open lines of communication ensure that employees feel valued and heard, fostering a supportive work environment where feedback is welcomed and constructive dialogue flourishes. Ultimately, this sense of trust and communication lays the foundation for a motivated and engaged workforce, driving success and growth for the organization as a whole.

As we navigate this continually evolving landscape of remote work, it’s imperative for us as business leaders to embrace the complexity of this paradigm shift and leverage it as an opportunity to be mindful of our greatest asset: our workforce.

Rather than seeking a definitive answer to the productivity question, let us recognize the nuanced interplay between work environment, individual preferences, and organizational dynamics. Our goal is to empower our teams to thrive. So let’s embrace the possibilities, challenge the status quo, and lead our teams toward a brighter, more resilient future for our organizations.