Is WFH Really More Productive?

WFH Research conducts monthly surveys to gauge the WFH status in the US, providing comprehensive and detailed data. In addition to their standard survey questions, which cover aspects like location and the number of days per week worked from home, each month they introduce new inquiries aimed at capturing emerging trends in the WFH landscape. In their most recent survey, they sought to ascertain whether people’s claims about WFH productivity align with the actual reality of remote work. This ongoing research enables a better understanding of the dynamic WFH environment and the impact it has on productivity and overall work patterns.

WFH Status

Before delving into the specific topic, I would like to present the latest data from July 2023 regarding the number of days employees work from home (WFH). Remarkably, for nearly a year now, the percentage of time employees have been working from home has consistently hovered around 30%.

percentage paid full day wfh

With lockdowns, mask requirements, and other restrictions long behind us, it appears that a consensus has been reached between employees and employers to maintain the 30% work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for the present and the foreseeable future. 

Although I cannot foresee what lies ahead, it is likely that we will continue to witness WFH percentages hovering around this mark. Major companies continue to assess their policies, taking productivity and employee satisfaction into account, which may lead to substantial shifts in direction within the next year or two. As the landscape evolves, the flexibility and adaptability of workplaces will likely play a significant role in shaping the future of work.

WFH Productivity

There has been a lots of discussion as well as disagreement between management and employees about working from home is really more productive or not. The tendency is for employees to claim that WFH makes them more productive, and consequently asking for more allowed days to work remotely. 

Self assessment productivity might be subjective to someone’s preferences, i.e., if you prefer to work from home then you might report that you are more productive when working from home. One way to answer this question objectively is to compare the actual employer policy with the employees’s claims.

The idea was that after a year or so without lockdowns and work-location restrictions, if productivity had been better at home employers would indeed let them employees work from home. That would be a win-win since employers get to work from their preferred location and employers get higher productivity. 

The survey asked the following questions:

  • How does your efficiency working from home compare to your efficiency working on business premises?
  • How much more [less] efficient are you working from home than on business premises?
  • For each day last week, did you work a full day (6 or more hours), and if so where?

And they compiled the following graph:

self assessed relative efficiency of wfh

This graph clearly illustrates a positive correlation between the percentage of employees claiming higher productivity while working from home and the number of days they are allowed to work remotely. In essence, there exists a mutual agreement and understanding between employers and employees that remote work yields greater productivity. Otherwise, employers would not grant their employees the option to work from home; instead, they would insist on them returning to the office. The data strongly supports the notion that the benefits of working from home are widely recognized and acknowledged by both parties involved.

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