The opportunity to work from home seems like a dream gig. But is it difficult to stay focused when you’re surrounded by the comforts (and distractions) of home? It’s easier than you might think.
Today, more than five percent of the U.S. workforce work from home. Even those who don’t have full-time remote jobs work from home one or two days a week. Many also work on freelance projects at home after their regular workday ends.
However, no matter when or how they work, remote workers almost always face one question: is it hard to stay productive? If you’re interested in working from home, you might wonder the same thing.
With your fridge, pets, bed, Netflix account, and other distractions at your fingertips, it can sound impossible to get anything done. But the research might surprise you: working from home actually makes people more productive.
That’s good news, but it raises other questions. Why does working from home make people more productive? Does it boost productivity in everyone equally? If you’re thinking of making the switch to working remotely, here’s what you should know.
Productivity and Remote Work: What the Research Shows
Many employers balk at the idea of letting their employees work from home. It’s not hard to see why.
When most people envision working from home, they see a constant invitation to slack off. Workers could ignore assignments in favor of television and snacks, or errands and cleaning. Without the accountability of nearby bosses and coworkers, can people really stick to a task?
As work-from-home jobs became more common, researchers applied themselves to answering this question. In one notable study, a Stanford professor followed 16,000 employees for two years. A control group stayed in the office, while the study subjects worked from home.
In terms of productivity, the remote workers blew the in-office workers out of the water. Not only did they get more done on an average workday, but they also took less time off, shorter breaks, and were less likely to quit. The company also saved thousands of dollars on office space rentals.
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