However, any department leader or executive who pays attention, the work in office is often far less productive than at home. Why? One word: people. When in large groups, people tend to be more social in the office than when at home.
While you might believe that working from home allows people to slack off more, providing ample time to call friends and family, run errands, and do chores, those small, occasional time sucks are far less draining on the corporate wallet than the utility costs (heating/cooling, lighting, cleaning, and security) associated with keeping a building operative in addition to the cost of the water cooler, the virtual epicenter of gossip, rumor-mongering, and FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).
Remote workers, the mature professional ones, are more organized, focused, and productive, and they are often more willing to put in more time than their in office/hybrid counterparts. Why? There are many variables; here are a few more notably controllable reasons from a remote-work perspective:
Private workspace: In today’s collaborative, open environment onsite employees, especially managers who have been returned to the “floor” with their teams, have limited opportunity for private space to work on confidential tasks and projects. Working from home almost guarantees you never need look over your shoulder to see who is peeking at your screen. (Caveat—you need to have good home office boundaries so your family or roommates understand the need for confidentiality and privacy while you’re working.)
Noise level: This one chaps my booty. I am not terribly good at regulating my volume while I have my headset on. Whether it roots in my past band-chick days (so yesterday—fun, but thankfully in my rearview mirror) or old age setting in (what was that?), it is difficult to tell if I’m too loud. It makes me paranoid in an open environment. Secondly, and this is my favorite onsite obstacle, eight to ten people in the same room, on the same call. It becomes a fighting mute-topia where no one is a winner, and everyone is pointing at someone (usually me) to mute the speaker. It’s frustrating for both the participants and those around them who are desperately trying to focus on getting work done. This problem is (usually) solved when working from home. Remote employees can put on their headsets and walk around the room, getting in steps or refilling their coffee mugs instead of being tied to a workstation during calls.
Time: This is the big one. With the Return to Office (RTO) movement, employees have not lost sight of what it is they gained during the pandemic: time and freedom. Many, including me, have reevaluated the over-giving of overtime. Corporate Americans are feeling a bit less corporate. Regardless of the work that remains at the end of the day, unless there is an enforceable deadline, office dwellers are cutting out at quitting time, forgoing the extra hours at the end of the day. On average, this is costing employers roughly two hours a day, the typical time commitment for commuting. Home-based workers are more likely to sit down at their home office desk early and put in an extra 30 minutes or so at the end of the day; the commute home is a quick jaunt down the hall.
If you as a manager or executive are on the fence regarding remote work, or if you’re employed by an organization, consider calculating the time and money lost by forcing employees back into an office.
Eventually, those employees most passionate about returning to their home base will find a way to do so. If you’re already enjoying your work-from-home status, be thankful and productive so your employer can see the benefits of you being there and thriving both personally and professionally.