More Americans than ever before have been working from home since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. It has been the same in most of the rest of the world as well. Some employees love it and they love the time they save not having to drive or commute to work on transit. Some loved it to start with and now maybe they’re getting tired of missing the social side of work.
But as an employer, another thing that’s important for you to know is how it’s affecting productivity.
So are staff working from home as productive as they are when they are in the office?
What the studies say
There have been really conflicting findings in studies. Some suggest that early in the pandemic there was high productivity at work from but that is it dropping off over time. Some show that productivity is still higher from home. But many others suggest productivity drops off when workers work at home in place of at an office or workplace.
There’s not just one right answer
Productivity of course depends on the people, on the task they are doing and can vary depending on what their work from home setup is like. Someone who lives in a quiet place, has a lovely home office and a task that can easily be done without communicating much with their coworkers might, you could assume, be just as likely to get the work done wherever they are.
Let’s look at common distractions.
Children and Schooling
Parents have had it rough. In some parts of the world, schools have closed leaving Moms and Dads trying to work at home and school the kids too. It’s an impossibly hard task and organizations can’t expect their workers to keep productivity as high when they’re dealing with so much at once.
Some leniency really is needed when there’s so much going on.
Image is used under CC 4.0 Attribution. Copyright Spirit Dog Training.
Ever been on a Zoom call when your coworker’s dog turns up barking? Or climbing on them? Or they’re in the background making a racket? We have. And it’s adorable for dog lovers but a little bit annoying for anyone who is a bit more indifferent to doggos.
For people who normally leave their dogs at home while they work or leave them with a dogsitter, having pets to care for all day while they’re trying to work can be a real distraction.
Bad working setup
Not everyone had a desk or a good chair. If someone is tight on space and has a poor setup, physical discomfort can cause a lack of productivity.
Mental health issues
It has been a tough time for everyone through the pandemic. All the external worries about lockdown, or not seeing family or health worries is enough to make anyone anxious. Poor mental health or outside stresses and worries can easily cause a drop in productivity.
How to improve productivity
Our top tip would be to try and support your workers. Understand lots of things are outside of their control right now. And there’s some great advice on improving productivity when working from home here.