Work from home policies boost productivity
According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 43% of employed Americans have spent at least some time working remotely. U.S. census data released in 2018 revealed that 5.2% of American workers are based entirely at home. Many employers, however, are reluctant to get on board with remote work. They worry that distractions at home and a lack of oversight could decrease productivity. But are those worries unfounded? One Stanford professor decided to find out.
In 2015, Nicholas Bloom conducted research as a Chinese travel agency tested a new work-from-home policy with half of its call center employees. Bloom found that productivity actually increased by an average of 13% thanks to fewer interruptions, shorter breaks and fewer sick days. With just a six-second commute to their laptop, employees were also less likely to start work late or leave early.
Little bits of time saved here and there added up to a big difference. Each employee completed roughly one extra shift’s worth of work. And they were happier, too. Employee attrition, formerly a big problem at the company, decreased by an astounding 50%. The company in Bloom’s study cut back on its office space in an expensive city and saved $2,000 per employee.
Working from home is great for employers and employees alike, but there are challenges to keep in mind. At the end of the study, over half of the work-from-home employees decided they wouldn’t want to work from home 100% of the time, citing isolation as a challenge. Fortunately, there are several ways remote companies can help employees overcome isolation and reap the benefits of working from home:
- Use technology to stay connected. Video meetings allow for face-to-face time and are more engaging than audio-only conference calls. Platforms like Slack encourage steady communication, even between meetings.
- Consider flexible policies. Working from home doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Some companies opt for a mix of in-office and at-home days or start new employees in the office for smoother onboarding. The key is to consider the unique needs of the team and experiment with creative options as needed.
- Encourage team bonding. A sense of community can combat feelings of isolation and encourage team cohesion. Non-work related, group bonding activities — whether virtual or in person — can help teams feel connected and united even as they work from home.
Working from home can save companies time and money, improve employee satisfaction and improve retention rates — as long as they find ways to keep employees connected and engaged from wherever they call home.
Stay focused with the Pomodoro Technique
Named after the creator’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro Technique is a simple time-management strategy widely used by work-from-home employees who need help staying focused. Here’s how it works:
- Select a task to focus on.
- Set your timer for 25 minutes and work until you hear the “ding.”
- Take a short five-minute break to stretch or grab a coffee.
- Repeat three more times, then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Even large tasks feel manageable when you only have to focus for 25 minutes at a time. Set a kitchen timer, use your phone’s timer or download a Pomodoro app to try this “time-tested” technique for yourself.