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Is WFH More Productive than In-Office?

Is WFH More Productive than In-Office?

In this article, you’ll find out interesting statistics on work from home productivity, read about the survey of our clients we conducted in order to assess the productivity of those of their employees who work from home, learn more about the benefits of different work models, and understand how you can measure the productivity of your WFH employees with the help of our Kickidler monitoring software.

In recent years, the world has been undergoing many lasting changes, and the transition to remote work is one of the most notable shifts in the work environment. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many executives to get over the fear of their employees being less productive at home and make a shift toward the WFH work model. And what what was originally a temporary fix has become the norm, since most workers across nearly all industries prefer to work from the comfort of their homes.

In today’s article we’ll try to gain a better understanding on the topic of remote employee productivity through the survey we’ve conducted among our clients.

WFH Productivity Statistics 

There’s no point in denying that working from home has gotten easier over the last couple of years. Here are just a few examples from recent surveys and reports regarding working from home, productivity, and remote team management.

In 2020, in the beginning of the pandemic, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago surveyed 10,000 employees who believed themselves to be just as productive working from home compared to working in the office. In fact, 30% of those respondents told researchers they were more productive and engaged when working from home.

A 2020 Airtasker survey showed that WFH employees spent less time avoiding work (15% difference) and spent 1.4 more days working each month.

A 2022 Microsoft report on hybrid work showed that 85% of leaders who were surveyed believed hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence in employees’ productivity, with only 12% of managers having full confidence their hybrid team was productive. At the same time, 87% of hybrid employees felt they were productive at work.

That data aligns with a 2022 Citrix report based on a global survey of 900 business leaders and 1,800 employees who can do their job remotely. Half of all business leaders believed that when employees were working “out of sight,” they didn’t work as hard. 48% of the business leaders even went as far as installing monitoring software on the computers of their employees to check on their work. 

According to a 2023 Owl Labs study on the state of hybrid work, 91% of workers reported being as productive, or even more productive in their own working style, with 79% of surveyed managers feeling their teams are more productive when working remotely or in a hybrid format.

However, with all this data in mind, one should be aware of the fact that just because WFH productivity is reported to be increasing for now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay this way. 

Employees who work from home are noticed to struggle with the lack of social interaction. There’s also a risk of their mental health starting to hinder productivity over time, decreasing employee satisfaction. 

After all, the loneliness of working at a home office does tend to affect productivity and job satisfaction. And this is why companies are now embracing a hybrid work model that we’ll discuss in more detail later in the article.

Kickidler Survey on WFH Employee Productivity

We’ve already conducted a survey of our users in 2021 on several important aspects of our employee monitoring software and overall user satisfaction. Back then it showed 54.4% of Kickidler users having made the transition to hybrid work. Survey results

Recently, we decided to run another independent opinion research study to gain a better idea of the current trends in remote employee productivity (we also covered main trends in remote work for 2023 here).

10 of our clients – mostly small and medium enterprises – shared their thoughts and data with us, on the basis of which we were able to deduce the following.

There are data backing up our theory that employees who work from home might experience a loss in productivity – that is, if competent monitoring is not implemented.

On the other hand, with properly thought-out remote employee monitoring practices in place, remote work tends to be more beneficial for both employees and employers in the long run, seeing how the former get the opportunity to achieve a more holistic approach toward work-life balance (as well as get almost 3 hours freed up to relax and take necessary breaks, thus eliminating the risk of potential burnout) and the latter benefit from increased employee productivity.

Are employees working from home more productive? Pie-chart.

Why Are Remote Employees More Productive?

Remote workers are more productive because they have no commute, less office small talk, fewer distractions, more time for family, a higher quality of life, and better overall work-life balance.

In essence, job satisfaction is critical to keeping employee productivity high and lowering employee turnover. In a recent 2024 Tracking Happiness study remote work is also linked to happiness, with workers who work remotely reporting to be 20% happier on average than those who don’t have the ability to work from home. 

And happiness at work isn’t a simple nice thing to have with no relation to organizational performance. On the contrary, promoting employee wellbeing and happiness benefits both employers and employees, since happy employees tend to work more productively and generate more revenue for the company. 

In-office vs. Remote vs. Hybrid Work

Many companies are still undecided how they should work long-term. For companies deciding the future of their work model, it’s important to consider the multitude of factors. After all, the stakes are rather high, since a small change in employee productivity, turnover, or happiness could significantly affect business outcomes. 

Let’s first define the differences between remote, office, and hybrid work.

Office work means the physical colocation of employees, where they share a physical space, interact in-person, and commute from their homes to the workplace. 

Remote work means employees don’t work from a shared physical space. Instead, they collaborate online using digital tools from workplaces outside the office. 

Hybrid work offers companies a combination of both remote and office workplaces. Employees can work from the office, home, or elsewhere. 

Here are the pros and cons of each working model to consider when deciding the future of your team.

Pros Cons
In-office
Returning to the office can prove to be a productive option for those who are burned out from working from home. An office helps promote optimum productivity, even if it can feel monotonous in time. Leaving the house to go to the office sets a firm boundary that employers and employees are less likely to overstep. If an employee notices themselves feeling lazy working from home, they might get a productivity boost in the office.
Being surrounded by colleagues and friends can also bring back that much-needed socialization that was missing during the pandemic lockdown. Work questions can quickly be answered by coming to someone’s desk, and there are fewer pesky work messages and emails if everyone is in the same place. An office also makes it easier for managers to monitor everyone’s progress, and employees might feel energized to meet deadlines and keep up with coworkers when everyone is sitting right next to each other.
However, the mandate to return to the office might be considered outdated by the employees. They might view it as a waste of their time commuting, when they can get things done in the time otherwise spent travelling.
There’s also the issue of remote work attachment. A flexible working arrangement indicates that employers are considerate to an employee’s situation, such as juggling home life. Forcing employees to return to the office sends the wrong image to the team.
Remote
Employees can save time and money without commuting and eating outside for lunch. They can minimize the time it takes to prepare to go into the office and spend it relaxing or doing chores around the house. More time can be spent with family, thus strengthening bonds at home. Employees can work in a comfortable environment where they don’t have to be conscious about their work attire. And after logging off from work, they can head straight into their fitness routines or hobbies without any pause.
These are all factors that can lead to happier and healthier teams.
At the same time, the line between work and home is blurred when working from home. One moment, an employee can be finishing an important meeting, and next, they’re washing the dishes or changing a diaper. Slowly, the line might get so blurred that colleagues and managers will message each other after they’ve timed out or even before they’ve timed in. Then it could feel like work is truly 24/7 and it occupies your home.
The lack of direct communication with the rest of the team can also make employees feel disengaged from the company, lowering loyalty and commitment.
If proper boundaries are not set or genuine work connections are not made, remote work can be exhausting, leading to resignations and a higher employee turnover rate.
Hybrid
This work arrangement enables employees to have the best of both worlds. When they need a break from the office and the commute, they can work from home. When they need a break from responsibilities at home, they can work in the office.
A hybrid work arrangement can also address the cons of remote work and office work. It can reinstall the work life/home life boundaries, reinforce work relationships and connections, strengthen company loyalty and culture, and improve employees’ mental health.
While it seems ideal in theory, in reality, it might not reach expectations. Changing work environments every day or every other day can be a hassle for some people, and if forced, the alternating structure might not suit those who prefer to work either remotely or in-office full time.
While hybrid setups might leverage all of the advantages of both remote work and office work, they could also lead to the disadvantages of both schemes. Workers might still feel overworked on the days they work from home, and they might still feel tired on the days they go to the office. Employers might still find it harder to know who to promote if some still work from home.
Hybrid setups can be rather tricky if managers and HR teams are unskilled or unenthusiastic at managing them.

Overall, it’s a rather complicated dilemma with no one-shoe-fits-all approach. It’s up to each employer to figure out for themselves which environment will best suit the needs of their employees and bring out their optimum work performance. While a full-time WFH setup might suit one company culture, a hybrid setup might be best for another company. 

At the same time, no matter the work model you choose, the biggest issues facing productivity of those employees who work remotely or in a hybrid format are the difficulty in actually measuring workforce productivity and the need for tailored monitoring solutions. Here’s where Kickidler enters the stage.

How to Monitor & Maximize Productivity of WFH Employees?

Monitoring remote employees’ productivity helps teams set attainable goals, plan their next steps, and determine how much profit each worker actually brings to the company.

To measure productivity of remote teams, managers should initially take into account the core tasks of each position. For example, the productivity of a customer support specialist can be measured based on the number of phone calls or tickets they complete. Meanwhile, software engineers could have their productivity rated by the number of code lines they finish. We recommend creating evaluation criteria for each position and making the criteria clear for employees in order to set clear expectations.

When measuring the performance of WFH employees, it is better to focus on their output instead of the number of hours they work. Establishing trust and flexibility in terms of work hours should be followed by measuring the results of someone’s work and its quality.

The best way to monitor WFH employee productivity would be to use dedicated employee monitoring software

Kickidler provides both managers and employees themselves with insights into activity levels, quality of performance and overall productivity of each team member. 

Below are some tips to help those who work from home be more successful:

  • Creating a comfortable workspace. Working in an office helps employees to stay focused and on track. Such a working space can be recreated in the comfort of one’s home, whether it’s turning an extra room into an office or putting a desk behind the couch. The space should be comfortable, away from TV screens or other sources of entertainment, and have everything employees might need to carry out their tasks.
  • Staying organized. Employees might need to adopt a new organizing system or start using a day planner to make sure they stay on schedule. It could be beneficial to create a weekly work schedule and list the tasks that need to be completed. Staying committed to such a schedule will help with creating consistency and a routine.
  • Committing to smaller, yet intense work intervals. Employees can be more productive when they focus intently for smaller periods of time. For example, an employee could spend a few hours timing how long they can work before getting distracted. Let’s say, if they can work for 30 minutes before getting distracted, then this pace should be continued throughout the whole day. After each break, they can set an online timer and work diligently and uninterrupted for the next 30 minutes.
  • Taking breaks. Taking regular breaks allows our brain to refocus and relax, thus helping in staying productive. Such breaks could be used to get a snack, drink water, get fresh air, or check on the family members. 22 minutes spread out across the day are considered to be the average break time for a remote worker.
  • Scheduling virtual check-ins with colleagues. The loneliness and lack of social interaction could rightfully be considered the hardest part of working from home. Setting aside regular time intervals to check in with co-workers can help support social interaction and focus employee’s brain on the day’s work tasks.

In Lieu of a Conclusion

Whether employers are ready or not, working from home is here to stay for at least the next few years. Employers need to find the right balance of in-office and remote work arrangements that will make their company as effective as possible. 

What’s more, the WFH conversation needs to shift from employers’ unsubstantiated fears to actual research. The data show well-managed work from home can raise and maintain both employee happiness and productivity, while cutting company costs and raising profits. 

Perhaps the issue is less about employees wearing pajamas during working hours and more about managers struggling to apply an outdated framework to monitoring their teams.

Give Kickidler a try today and see how it can help you improve the productivity of your team, no matter the work model!

Kickidler Employee Monitoring Software

Alicia Rubens

Content Marketer

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