Among the myriads of opinions about employees and how businesses should manage issues, there isn’t always hard evidence to back up the opinion. Bob (Scribner) pointed out an interesting University of Chicago study “Work from Home & Productivity: Evidence from Personnel & Analytics Data on IT Professionals” by Gibbs, Mengel & Siemroth, regarding work from home and productivity among IT personnel; we thought in worthwhile to share with you.
The study was well constructed in that it anticipated a number of the readers’ questions by ensuring the company in question had a consistent system for tracking productivity, and the study also took in consideration a number of demographics, including gender, age, presence of children at home, among others. (By the way, presence of school age children at home had less effect on productivity than might be expected.)
The study compared 10,000 IT personnel over a period of 17 months, some of whom worked from the office and some from home. It was a large company in a “rapidly growing Asian country”, but some of the conclusions are applicable to a number of Executive Advantage clients. Here are some take aways:
- Productivity declined by 8 – 19% for employees working from home
- Employees working from home worked more hours in order to maintain productivity
- Employees working from home appeared to spend more time in meetings in general, but “less time in personal meetings with their manager or receiving coaching”.
- The costs to the company in communication, coordination and collaboration increase with work from home.
- Employees with the greatest company tenure were much less likely to have declined productivity during work from home; this appears to be connected with the level of adaptation to company culture and processes.
The last three conclusions bear careful consideration in setting at home workers up for success. We know from the Buckingham studies (Gallup Poll) that the employee’s relationship with their direct manager has an enormous impact on job satisfaction. We know that connection counts. When it comes to the cost of at home workers, there are a number of wage and hour pieces to consider (with which we can help) as well as security issues (some of which you may need to outsource to IT). Because of the last bullet point regarding tenure, most organizations cannot function with a fully remote workforce. However, employers still need to consider carefully how to manage a partially remote workforce.
If you need trusted HR expertise from Bob or Doris of Executive Advantage, please reach out. (Also, let us know if you’d like a PDF of the study!)