Need a productivity boost? Stay at home

Modern technology makes the idea of employees working from home a very real possibility that many companies seeking productivity solutions have (at least partially) embraced. With recent research showing telecommuting can not only save on office costs but actually produce a substantial output boost.

Some of the latest data comes from a 9-month long Stanford University study, which focused on Chinese travel centre Ctrip. The company had expected to see a drop in productivity, study co-author Nicholas Bloom told Harvard Business Review, but was hoping to offset it through savings on office-space.

But when the results came in they were surprised to find that teleworker productivity had jumped by 13.5 per cent. What's more, job satisfaction rose in the process and employee turnover dropped 50 per cent, all the while Ctrip saved $1,900 per employee on furniture and office space costs. 

Bloom said a third of the productivity gains were down to reduced distractions, while the other two-thirds were because people working from home actually put in more hours.

"They started earlier, took shorter breaks, and worked until the end of the day. They had no commute. They didn't run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted," Mr Bloom explained. "A good rule of thumb is to let employees have one to two days a week at home. It's hugely beneficial to their well-being, helps you attract talent, and lowers attrition."

Keys to making teleworking work for your organisation

"Performance, not presence," says FastCompany.com. It's easy to worry about employees slacking off when they're out of the office because it becomes harder to measure the time actually spent on task. But hours worked and productivity are not the same thing, and it is production that drives company success.

FastCompany.com recommends setting goals that are "specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely" and to ensure lines of communication are kept open with regular feedback and an online blackboard system to keep track of what everyone's working on.

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