Though many industries have started allowing the employees to work from home, the recent coronavirus outbreak has led many business owners to reevaluate their attitude toward remote work. Is it true that the employees are more likely to slack off when working from home? Let’s find out!
The changing world
A 2019 study found out that the employees were actually more productive when working from home. They took longer breaks, but they also spent significantly less time doing things that were unrelated to their work. It turns out that taking longer breaks could have a positive impact on productivity.
That’s not all – the study has shown that remote work has many more advantages over working in the office. The average commute time in the United States is estimated to be around 26 minutes. Even though it might not seem that long, if you multiply it by 10 times a week, then if you don’t have to commute to work, during one month, you will save almost one day. Apart from time, people who worked from home spent less time on fuel, but also the maintenance of their cars. And let’s not forget about the environmental impact. In the United States, transportation accounts for about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Sure, not every job can be done from home, but it applies to more and more jobs. Until the coronavirus outbreak, numerous businesses did not expect that the same tasks could be accomplished by people working from their homes. The technology allows us to work remotely even if it could be problematic a decade ago. The companies that are worried about private data leaking out can instruct their employees to use VPNs, whereas lack of office equipment, such as fax machines, can be replaced with apps, e.g. Faxburner. Of course, it isn’t possible in the case of every job, but if the implemented changes are not rolled back even after the coronavirus no longer makes it necessary to avoid offices, the impact on the environment could be significant.
Remote workers have also spent more time each week on physical exercises, which not only has a positive impact on their well-being but also on their productivity. Physical activity makes the brain sharper and capable of making decisions more quickly. At the same time, exercising regularly decreases the chances of employees contracting various diseases, which in turn could decrease the time the employees spend on medical leave.
Still, it doesn’t mean that remote work doesn’t also have its disadvantages. The study has shown that people experienced more stress when having to complete the same tasks from their homes, as opposed to the office. Despite working from a place that theoretically should be much more comfortable, more people who have worked remotely reported high anxiety levels. The larger portion of employees reported that working from home leads to issues with stress. Perhaps it might be due to the inability to chat with people around them about the problems they are experiencing. It is not a problem limited to one group, but especially young people are prone to not being able to focus when faced with solitude.
People must realize that maintaining good mental health is key if they don’t want to burn out. Even though remote work can be a blessing, a sense of freedom can actually increase the levels of stress. That’s because people who don’t work in the office are more likely to complete tasks just before the deadline. They might spend a long time in front of the computer screen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will finish the same tasks earlier. As a consequence, without being able to vent out their thoughts to their colleagues, they can experience stress and anxiety. The truth is, waiting in the traffic jam after you have finished work can be stressful as well. It seems that both remote work and office work have both disadvantages and advantages.
Yet another study, this time from 2012, has found out that remote work boosts the performance of people who have to accomplish creative tasks, whereas it decreases the productivity of people who are faced with dull activities. It seems logical that our brains aren’t as tempted by distractions when they are focused on the task that isn’t boring. In the workplace, it might be easier to focus at least for just a bit, though conversely, even if you are doing something interesting, you will likely spend some time chatting with your friends.
It doesn’t mean that it is possible to tell whether remote work or work done from the office is a better idea. All jobs differ, and the performance could depend on many different factors, which means that even when it comes to the same tasks, various people will be differently affected by working from home. It doesn’t mean that companies should pay attention only to the productivity of their employees. It isn’t anything new that keeping the worker happy can bring positive results to the company. We will see how many of the current changes will stay with us for a longer time, even when we are no longer worried about our health
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