Pre-Covid, many employers were suspicious of working from home (WFH) and feared it would harm productivity. But an increasing body of research shows that WFH actually boosts productivity levels.
In our Should We Ditch the Office? Survey, 28% of respondents named the improvement in focus/productivity as one of the top 3 things about working from home. And 76% reported feeling as productive, if not more so, at home (compared to in the office).
In this blog, we explore the data further, to see whether there are any correlations between certain job roles and productivity at home. We also share some top tips to help boost your team’s productivity when working remotely, whatever role they’re in.
The impact of WFH on productivity levels
A study of 16,000 participants found that remote employees were 13% more productive in their day-to-day roles than office-based staff.
A likely reason for this is that working from home can improve flexibility around schedules, so employees can work when they are most productive—consequently producing higher quality work, in less time.
Also, the lack of commute means employees that work from home save, on average, 8.5 hours a week when not travelling. That’s 408 hours a year! For many employees, this gives them more time to spend with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or taking care of personal matters, which can help to lessen the mental load. Respondents in our survey also cited more time to exercise, cook and do ‘life admin’ among the perks of working from home.
Furthermore, working in a comfortable home environment can help to lower stress. And stress has long been acknowledged to harm employee productivity by reducing an individual’s ability to concentrate and multi-task.
Although, it’s important to recognise that not everyone has a comfortable, productive home environment. In fact, in our survey, 24% of respondents found home rife with distractions. And 34% stated that poor work-life balance was one of the worst things about permanent home working.
Do employees in certain job roles find it easier to be productive when WFH than others?
We decided to dig deeper into the data to see whether there were any correlations between specific job roles and where people felt most productive.
As you can see from the graph below, on average, every job role reported feeling more productive at home compared to in the office—but the proportion was particularly high among certain job types, such as marketing/PR (56%), tech (58%) and general management (55%). A possible explanation for this is that these job roles may require more deep-focused work, for example, coding or writing. Therefore, working in a home environment where they are less likely to be distracted by their colleagues might help with their productivity.
Similarly, 52% of those in sales or business development roles stated they were more productive at home, compared to 26% who felt as productive in both, and only 22% who felt more productive in the office. This data may actually counter common assumptions that loud and busy sales environments are critical to productivity.
On the flip side, a larger proportion of people in operations (31%), general management (29%) and HR (25%) roles stated that they felt more productive in the office compared to their colleagues. A likely reason for this is the nature of these job roles requiring more in-person meetings and collaboration.
We can also see a more even split among respondents in finance roles, with 39% saying they felt more productive at home, 36% the same in both, and 25% more productive in the office.
It can be helpful to bear these trends in mind if you’re a company with a high proportion of a certain type of employee. Having said that, many other factors might impact a person’s productivity, so it’s crucial to consider individual circumstances and create a flexible workplace strategy that helps everyone do their best work.
How to boost employee productivity when working from home
No matter the composition of your company, there are many ways you can tweak processes to help your employees reach their full potential, wherever they are. After all, before March 2020, working from home was a relatively unknown concept for many—meaning that we’ve all had a lot of changes to get used to.
Here are some top tips to help your employees do their best work wherever they are:
Equip your team with the best tools
Companies need to ensure that employees have the tools they need to do their job effectively from wherever they’re working. This will usually include:
- A fast Internet connection
- File sharing software
- Video conferencing for team meetings
- Collaboration software
- An ergonomic chair
Furthermore, UK Health and Safety laws require employers to conduct a DSE assessment (Display Screen Equipment) workstation risk assessment for their employees who are working from home on a long-term basis. It’s important to carry out this assessment to help diagnose and minimise the risk to the wellbeing of employees.
Share your schedules
Urge your employees to block out hours on their calendar, including personal time; whether it’s for sorting through emails or looking after kids.
And share your schedules with your team. As a manager, building transparency around your own schedule can help to increase trust, and it encourages your team to be more intentional about communicating their availability.
Have better meetings, less often
If everyone on your team is working slightly different hours, scheduling meetings will be much harder to do. But, you can use this as an opportunity to make your meetings more efficient and effective:
- Get rid of low value meetings—if attendance is low, people are distracted, or leaving meetings with questions, then cut or reconsider whether those meetings are worth having.
- Plan for important meetings, and share a schedule a day or two in advance, so people come to the meeting prepared.
- Appoint a meeting coordinator to keep an eye on the time and ensure that all attendees have an opportunity to contribute.
- Try cutting all meetings down to half an hour. This will force you to only focus on the important stuff.
- End on time! If time runs out, schedule more time that works for the team.
When employees work from home, trust is more important than ever. Workers can’t rely on impromptu water-cooler chats, body language and in-person meetings to untangle mixed messages or soften feedback.
It’s time to move away from the traditional notions of presenteeism, and trust that employees are working even when you can’t see them. And try to avoid micromanaging!
Find out how your employees want to work in the future
While working from home can improve one employee’s productivity and focus, it can be do the opposite for another’s.
So, if you’re looking to identify the best workplace strategy for your company in the future, it’s crucial to listen to your employees. Then take into account their pain points and suggested practical actions.
To help you find the insights you need quickly and easily, we’ve created a free-to-use Workplace Strategy Tool—designed to help you find out how your employees want to work.
With the tool, businesses can easily survey their team members using a 5-minute curated questionnaire, access the data immediately via their own results dashboard, and get a free, recommended strategy from the Hubble advisory team based on the results—whether that’s permanent remote working, a full-time office or a hybrid of the two.
It’s already been used by the likes of Koru Kids, Lexoo and Settled to find out the best workplace strategy for their employees. Try it for yourself now: