Working, not shirking: Are employees truly productive from home?

The opportunity to work from home has many benefits. Whether it's saving on the time and effort it takes to get a work space up and running, or merely taking a break from the morning commute, both employee and employer can benefit.

However, the question remains as to whether employees are as efficient and productive as they would be in the office. Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom and his team have attempted to provide an answer in a recent research paper.

Tracking productivity at home

The focus is on Ctrip, a 16,000 strong Chinese travel agency. Those from the company who volunteered were randomly assigned to work at home or in the office for a period of nine months.

Applicable jobs were all call centre-based, so the measure used to track productivity was the amount of time spent on the phone talking to customers each day.

Those who worked from a home were found to be 13 per cent more efficient. Moreover, a total of 9 per cent were found to have taken fewer breaks and sick days and subsequently actually ended up working more.

Interestingly, 4 per cent saw improvements in output thanks to the better ergonomics of where they worked – namely the fact it was quieter and more convenient.

Business boosted by 22 per cent

After the study, Ctrip rolled out a work from home policy across the entire company. More than half of the total workforce actively engaged in it and the company saw an overall productivity boost of nearly a quarter (22 per cent).

Implementing a work from home strategy should be a key consideration for any company looking to work within modern management practices.

Keeping staff productive can be aided by the implementation of recruitment software such as FastTrack360. Not only can it help find the right people in the first place, but the way it can seamlessly handle payrolls means that staff will be kept happy in the long term too.

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