Working From Home Makes Employees More Productive


If you’re like me and hate wearing pants, good news: Working at home makes employees more productive and saves companies a ton of money. We already had a hunch about that, but now a Harvard study proves it.

Chinese travel website Ctrip’s call center employees were given the option to work from home for nine months for the study. At the end of the study, it was revealed that Ctrip saved $1,900 per month per employee on resources (from furniture to power to supplies), and remote employees completed 13.5 percent more calls than in-office employees did. Additionally (no surprise here), those who work at home report higher job satisfaction than those stuck under fluorescent lights smelling Bob in accounting’s bad breath.

Study author Nicholas Bloom notes, “One-third of the productivity increase, we think, was due to having a quieter environment, which makes it easier to process calls. At home people don’t experience what we call the “cake in the break room” effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places. The other two-thirds can be attributed to the fact that the people at home worked more hours. They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted. Search “working remotely” on the web, and everything that comes up will be supernegative and say that telecommuters don’t work as hard as people in the office. But actually, it’s quite the opposite.”

Want to convince your boss to let you start working from home? Bloom recommends the following. “One of the reasons Ctrip did its experiment was to persuade some skeptical managers that flexible work arrangements wouldn’t hinder business performance—to have data that proved the case. I tell executives all the time to exploit natural opportunities—for example, severe weather that prevents people from getting to the office—to measure how productive employees can be at home. Any disruption that offers a chance to have people work remotely is an opportunity to see how effective they are off-site.”

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