Since the pandemic, remote work has grown more popular with employees, and the new work arrangement is turning out to be remarkably productive.
- With fewer workers coming into the office, some managers worried that employees weren’t working as hard, but a new study from University of Texas professor Andrew Brodsky tells a different story.
- Findings from Brodsky’s study show that workers are becoming more engaged and more productive with the freedom to work remotely.
- Other studies show that remote work may even prompt employees to work for longer periods of time due to lack of commute.
Why it’s important
Once lockdowns were lifted and the world began to reopen, many assumed that the average worker would begin to return to the office. However, that isn’t necessarily true.
Several major businesses like Google, Tesla, and Apple have ordered employees back to the office. These decisions have often been met with pushback and sometimes resulted in executives changing their minds or delaying a return.
Concerns about worker productivity have led to a rise in employee monitoring and worries about quiet quitting—the act of not working outside of a given job description.
Still, more jobs are able to be done remotely. A Gallup poll from last year found that nearly 50% of all full time jobs can be completed from home.
For many employees, work from home has become a must when looking for a job. More job seekers are looking for remote jobs, and many currently employed workers say they would consider looking for another job if forced back to the office, Fortune’s Chantel Rowe reports.
Employees have found that remote work is better able to promote their work/life balance—and that’s something they don’t want to give up.
Remote work has kept managers on edge as they suspect productivity is down. However, Brodsky’s study looked at the frequency of meetings from April to May of 2020 in 10 different organizations and compared it to the same time periods in 2021 and 2022.
What researchers found is that the frequency of meetings is actually on the rise from two years ago. In 2022, there were 60% more meetings per worker than in 2020. Employees were engaging in more one-on-one meetings, and those meetings were shorter—perhaps showing increased efficiency.
One of the main concerns about remote working was the lack of employees’ ability to interact and collaborate. When in an office, it’s easy enough to lean around a cubicle wall or walk down the hallway to interact with a coworker. Remote work makes that a bit harder, but more frequent meetings could indicate that workers have adapted to this new format.
While more meetings doesn’t magically mean that employees are working harder, researchers propose that increased engagement means employees are working more.
A Stanford report from researcher Nick Bloom found that remote work increases productivity by employees having more time to work. Bloom’s study has been ongoing since 2004.
Managers may have a more difficult time gauging worker productivity without being able to look over their shoulder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean productivity is down.