If you do a Google search for “the future of work,” you will get (approximately) 9,910,000,000 hits. If you search under “in office versus from home,” you will come up with 7,730,000,000 hits (more or less). Obviously, a LOT of people have a LOT to say on the subject.
Many employees want to work from home now. Many employers want them in the office. In addition to some self-serving motives, both groups have legitimate reasons for their positions.
Work From Home Productivity
A recent report from Owl Labs concludes: “Several studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.”
Other studies, such as one by Stanford of 16,000 workers over 9 months found that “working from home increases productivity by 13%. This increase in performance was due to more calls per minute attributed to a quieter more convenient working environment and working more minutes per shift because of fewer breaks and sick days.
In this same study workers also reported improved work satisfaction, and attrition rates were cut by 50%.”
Finally, according to a survey by ConnectSolutions, “77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month shows increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time.”
However, it is important to note that these studies do not account for intangibles. How do you teach professionalism to a younger workforce who haven’t been exposed to a formal office environment? Office politics notwithstanding, how can Gen Z employees develop office social etiquette without an office?
Employers and employees both appreciate mentor and mentee relationships, but these work best when developed organically rather than via assignment. Without the office interaction of new employees and more experienced staff, it can be difficult to establish this sort of rapport.
Accountability between remote workers and their managers can be graded via assignments versus work completed, but it leaves a lot out of the equation. Has the remote worker demonstrated effective communicative and collaborative development?
Additionally, some workers simply need the “pat on the back” validation that comes with in-person interaction. Their performance is enhanced by the in-office validation provided by management and peers.
Empathy, a sense of belonging, and feelings of support are difficult to manifest when working from home but can be cultivated when working together in the office.
Attempting to combine all of the tangible and intangible puzzle pieces so the best of both worlds comes together is not only difficult but varies from one organization to the next.
As much as it can, a consensus is starting to emerge regarding work from home versus the office. Although no one would argue that the traditional office was perfect, the evolving answer seems to be a hybrid model, some combination of work-from-home and in-office compromise.
Companies with established office space are already in the position to implement this type of strategy. An all-remote organization would be smart to establish corporate coworking days, utilizing many of the existing coworking spaces available. The frequency of in-house versus remote days would depend on a variety of factors and differ from one organization to the next. The common trend would be the recognition that the benefits of occasional in-person days, whether it be a few days a week, once a week, or even once a month, are critical for any organization looking to develop their workforce skills in tangible as well as intangible ways.
If you would like to further discuss any of these issues, our professionals at ASN would be glad to help you develop a plan that best fits the needs of your organization. Just give us a call. We would love to talk.