At the start of the pandemic, as remote working became the norm, there was a huge increase in literature supporting the productivity of the remote worker. However, to what extent is that a myth?
Is Working from Home More Productive?
The simple answer is no. In a study by The Manifest, only 30% of employees claimed to be more productive when working from home. Conversely, nearly half of workers reported that they are more productive when working in an office. This was true across age groups and industries. Whilst there is also a small percentage of respondents reporting equal productivity between remote work and working from an office, the vast majority seemed to suggest a correlation between office work and better productivity.
There are many threats to productivity when working remotely, the main ones of which were distractions, designating a specific working area, having structure to their day, and communication issues with colleagues. When working from an office space in London, these challenges are controlled for meaning that staff only need to concentrate on their work. In fact, 22% of workers, when asked, claimed they found it difficult to obtain a healthy work-life balance when working from home.
Distinct Working Spaces
Many report the positives of a remote working lifestyle, saying that their environment is quieter and they can focus more away from a hectic workplace. However, this is only true for those lucky enough to have a distraction-free workplace. Successful remote workers usually credit a designated home-office, co-working space or even a coffee shop for their productivity. Yet, not everybody has that luxury. For those who are caregivers, the pandemic has posed its own set of challenges as schools, nurseries and colleges have been closed. For some, including the younger generation who are invariably in house-shares, many workers have been forced under one roof. This provides a challenging environment in which to focus not to mention burdens on things such as shared wifi connectivity.
The Exception to the Rule
That is not to say that remote workers cannot be productive. There have been many studies to show that many workers do find that they are more productive when working from home. However, this tends to come down to industry, type of work, job complexity, the proportion of their work which is remote, and personality. To argue that the workforce as a whole is more productive when working home would not be true.