Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Research: Working from home boosts productivity

There was an interesting study about the effectiveness of working from home out of Stanford. You can read a brief summary in this article.

The study examines a large Chinese firm and followed 500 workers, half of who worked from home and half in the office. The upshot was that home workers:
  1. Worked longer (almost a full day longer each week—a work-time gain of 13%!).
  2. Concentrated better (so were more productive while they were at work).
  3. Were cheaper (no office space costs)
  4. Had 50% lower attrition, less sick time, and took fewer breaks.
  5. Had a smaller carbon footprint (less commuting, more intensive use of home space).
I’ve been working from home since 2007 and this is pretty consistent with my experience. The key drawback was half of the home workers felt lonely. And there were a few people humping the dog (which was more than offset by gains among other workers).

Letting workers chose whether to work from home (self-selection) resulted in an overall increase in productivity of 24%. If you can stand it, you can watch the author do a 14-minute talk about the study below. He’s reasonably funny and pretty smart but zzzzzzz….

The usual caveats apply to this research: single study, foreign country, YMMV. But it certainly has a lot of face validity for me.

-- Bob Barnetson

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