Does Working From Home Still Increase Productivity in 2023?
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Employees’ desire for remote work has remained strong, despite some companies implementing return-to-work initiatives. Two-thirds of workers say they would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility if their ability to work from home was taken away. But in 2023, will working from home increase productivity like it did before?
Business owners may think returning to traditional work arrangements will boost productivity, but it can do more harm than good.
“Scrapping the ability to work remotely swims against the overwhelming tide of opinion—and evidence—that remote workforces can and do succeed,” said Matt Monette, Deel’s UK&I country lead. “Across the world, we are seeing a fundamental shift in attitudes as workers and employers see that greater freedom over where we work can boost productivity and commercial performance.”
In this article, we explore the data behind remote worker productivity and how managers can help their WFH teams increase efficiency.
Work-from-home productivity statistics for 2023
Here’s what respondents from recent surveys and reports shared about working from home, productivity, and remote team management.
According to a 2022 Owl Labs study on remote work:
- 62% of workers feel more productive when working remotely
- Millennials feel the most productive working from home vs. an office
- Boomers feel the least productive working from home vs. an office
- 37% of workers say their homes are more productive for innovating and brainstorming
- Almost half of workers say they can meet deadlines better when working remotely
Research from Microsoft provides additional insights:
- 42% of remote workers multitask during meetings
- 85% of leaders say hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence in employees’ productivity
- 87% of hybrid employees say they’re productive at work
- 12% of leaders have full confidence their hybrid team is productive
Here’s what Insightful’s recent study found regarding how remote teams measure productivity:
- Only a quarter of remote teams believe they have sufficient tools to manage their employees’ productivity
- Almost a quarter of teams measure workforce productivity by tasks completed
- Close to 19% measure productivity by the time spent on a task
- 23% measure productivity by guessing
How to measure remote workers’ productivity
Measuring and tracking remote workers’ productivity helps teams set attainable goals, plan their growth, and determine how profitable a worker is—after all, the cost of an employee is high.
To measure productivity on remote teams, managers should first take into account each position and its core tasks. For example, the productivity of customer support specialists can be measured against the number of phone calls or tickets they complete.
Simultaneously, software engineers could have their productivity rated by the number of code lines they finish. We recommend creating evaluation criteria for each position and making the criteria easily accessible to employees to set clear expectations.
Measuring the performance of remote employees should focus exclusively on their output, not the number of hours they work. Establishing trust and flexibility in terms of work hours should and must be followed by measuring the results of someone’s work and its quality.
Natalia Jimenez, Deel’s head of expansion for LATAM, says managers often fear their direct reports aren’t being productive, but that fear is due to their reduced visibility.
“There are statistics about the growth companies experienced in the pandemic and the increase in productivity,” Jimenez explains. “However, managers are scared. The reality may actually be tied to a loss of control and not knowing where people are [in their work].”
Ways to increase productivity working from home
There are several techniques remote team managers and employees can use to increase productivity while working from home.
Set clear expectations
Managers should set clear expectations for their team members, primarily with communication. Start by creating a remote work policy that outlines processes and procedures. Educating, training, and preparing employees for remote work will help ease them into the environment.
Organize and schedule regular team check-ins to discuss tasks with coworkers and keep up to date on how their work impacts their colleagues. Hosting regular meetings can also help remote teams combat loneliness and isolation.
Remote work functions best when deadlines, tasks, and progress are documented and shared openly, and nothing is left to interpretation.
77% of remote workers that feel less productive working from home say it’s because of distractions. Set boundaries with roommates, partners, and family members by communicating work hours, identifying deep work periods, and sharing when you’re available to run errands or take a break. Communicate to your team when you’re in focus mode by setting your Slack status and blocking off time in your shared calendar.
Make to-do lists
At the end of every workday, make to-do lists and plans for the next day. Office workers often succumb to the allure of juggling multiple things at once, but telecommuters have the luxury of organizing their time to focus on each task separately.
Optimize your home office
Not everyone has an extra room to convert into a spacious home office. There are, however, thousands of ideas and hacks on how to convert your desk corner into a productive workspace. Give some thought to your home and see what works best with the space you’ve got. Small steps like adding some plants, getting an ergonomic chair, or decluttering your work area can improve your work experience and increase your focus.
Find a schedule that works for you
Schedules and routines help us focus. Think about routines that would make you feel more stable, secure, and focused. For some people, dressing up for work or starting every day at the same time can bring much-needed structure to the day. For others, it’s a midday exercise session that lifts their spirits.
Take frequent breaks
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is the flexibility. No one has an eight-hour streak of focus, so make sure to incorporate small and frequent breaks into your day. If you’re particularly proactive, plan your workday with these breaks in mind.
Whether you’re grabbing coffee, walking your dog, making lunch and sitting down to eat, or checking up on a friend, leave the desk multiple times a day. You’ll come back with a fresh mind and renewed energy.
Embrace asynchronous communication
Asynchronous (async) communication refers to non-simultaneous communication such as email, instant messaging, and pre-recorded videos. Teams that embrace remote-first or remote-friendly work environments are often dispersed across several time zones, making synchronous communication difficult. Async communication allows workers to share information effectively while minimizing disruptions to their peers.
Maintain a work-life balance
Psychological safety is vital to nurturing a sense of belonging in the workplace. The most important issue to keep track of is work-life balance and mental health. Working from home can sometimes result in work hours bleeding into family time and free time, which leads to burnout. Employees may also avoid taking sick days since they think they can battle their illness through work.
Companies with remote team members often have mechanisms to prevent burnout, but there are also individual actions you can take. Set an alarm for when your workday is nearing its end, unplug from work devices, and turn off notifications during off-hours. Setting clear boundaries for work and personal time will benefit both aspects of your life.
Want to know how Deel team members stay productive, organized, and connected on a globally distributed team? Read their collection of tips.
Empower a fully remote team
Essential WFH productivity tools and apps
Collaborative platforms, tools, and global equipment provisioning providers have made work-from-home (WFH) possible. Depending on your industry, workflow, and team culture, you can choose from dozens of remote work tools and software in the following categories:
Communication and video-conferencing
Platforms like Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and Slack are essential in the playbook of working from home. They not only facilitate meetings and check-ins, but can also help build and maintain a close and inclusive company culture via virtual hangouts, activities, and “face-to-face” conversations.
Keeping remote teams organized and enabling them to collaborate effectively is no easy task. Map out your workflow to find out which software fits your needs the best. Some of the most widely-used collaboration tools are Notion, Slite, and Basecamp.
This is a diverse and well-established category of apps and services, catering to many different industries and needs. Examples include GitHub, which caters to software developers worldwide, the simple and functional Asana, and Trello, which is made for color-coding enthusiasts.
Start building a more productive global team with Deel
Remote work is the future of work—and one of the top benefits and perks you can offer today’s workforce. Enabling your team to work from home increases their productivity, improves well-being, and can boost employee retention.
With Deel, you can engage workers worldwide without the hassle of opening an entity in a foreign country or having to handle legal and tax compliance. See how you can hire remote employees or independent contractors around the world.