Following on from our recent article regarding the potential divide between those working from home and those returning to the office, another hot topic on this issue is the potential impact on employee productivity.
Productivity can be a difficult thing to measure, and the indicators of productivity will vary drastically across industries, organizations, and individuals. After reviewing the current research and discussion around the topic, it appears that yet again there is not a concrete answer as to which approach is best.
Over the past 20 months or so, you will most likely have seen or heard numerous reports surrounding the topic of remote working productivity, and in the majority of cases how it had improved.
Many commentators have since suggested there is more to this boost in productivity than we initially thought, and some are referring to it as “panic productivity” during the early stages of the pandemic.
Job losses were extensive, and research suggests that these initially high level of productivity could be attributed to employees wanting to display their value, as well as the importance of their position, to their employers.
More recent studies suggest that the novelty of remote working may be wearing off as the stressors of being at home all the time are starting to mount.
One key argument in the debate centres around how these level of productivity are actually calculated. The main point of contention is that many of the reports don’t account for the increased hours people are working.
The reality of remote working means that people are working at hours that they wouldn’t normally have worked pre-pandemic, which leads us onto our next point…
Survey outcomes and commentators on the subject suggest that physical proximity between work and home has been a contributing factor to the increased hours worked during the course of the pandemic.
The traditional separation of the workplace and home made it easier to “switch off” and maintain a healthy boundary between the two, however for many people this boundary has started to breakdown. This blurring of home and workplace and can have a significant impact of employee morale and mental health, and makes “burnout” a much more probable outcome for professionals working from home.
One of the most significant variables in the productivity equation are the employees. Employers out there will be acutely aware how much work ethic fluctuates from person to person. For some workers, employers will feel safe in the fact they can work under their own initiative and get their work done, but for others, slightly more manger-led motivation is required.
For some employees, a certain degree of hand-holding and micromanagement is needed to make sure they meet the requirements of the business, something which become inherently more difficult when superior and subordinate aren’t working in the same location.
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