During the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, more and more employees are being forced to work from home. But what do work from home productivity statistics say about whether it’s a good idea?
There are some obvious benefits to working from home. You won’t have to put up with daily traffic jams, and you might get to spend more time with your family. If you want, you can wear pajama pants, or no pants at all, and nobody can stop you.
But the real question, and the one burning in the minds of employers considering it for their employees, is simple: does working from home increase productivity? Proponents of remote work claim that employees can do more in an unrestricted environment, enjoying heightened flexibility and higher satisfaction. Opponents claim that employees without supervision will be more likely to waste time due to lack of discipline.
There are credible angles to both arguments, but as with all other matters, subjective opinions are nowhere near as valuable as objective metrics. So where does the truth lie? What do the working from home productivity statistics say?
And here are a few quick links to further resources to help you monitor employees working from home during the COVID-19 crisis:
- 10 Employee Productivity Tracking Software Tools
- 51 Working From Home Tips Scientifically Proven to Boost Productivity (send this to your employees!)
- 17 Employee Productivity Stats Every Manager Needs to Measure
Below is an infographic with our 10 favorite statistics from below. Feel free to share this on our blog/website or with your team (or your boss)!
Working From Home Productivity Statistics
Working from home is still a somewhat new concept for many employers, so data on remote work is still quite limited. However, these 15 working from home productivity statistics all seem to suggest there’s significant value in allowing employees to work from home, or in working from home yourself:
1. Working from home leads to a 13 percent performance increase.
One of the most famous studies about working from home and productivity is this one from Stanford, which monitored 16,000 employees over the course of several months. One of the most significant takeaways is that employees who work from home see a 13 percent performance increase, including more minutes worked and more work done per minute.
This is probably the most important statistic on this list, because it’s the biggest study done (to date) on working from home and productivity, and it generated such eye-opening results. There are some points of criticism to consider with this study, including the fact that it covered only employees of one company in China, and most of these employees were call center workers.
People have also pointed out that this work from home productivity increase might be natural—that is to say, home-based work environments produce higher productivity on their own—but it’s more likely to be a byproduct of people working extra hard to prove their capabilities. In other words, people might be expending extra effort so they can keep enjoying the perks of working from home. However, it shouldn’t really matter to you which of these is true; the bottom line is that the study found that there’s a substantial increase in productivity when people work from home.
2. Remote work leads to 50 percent lower attrition.
The same study found that working remotely leads to sharply reduced employee attrition, due to higher work satisfaction. When people quit a job, it’s usually due to some level of dissatisfaction. However, working from home is seen as a massive benefit, and may make up for any other unsatisfactory elements of the job. Workers staying on the job gain more experience and reduce the need to train new staff, ultimately increasing your team’s overall productivity.
3. 77 percent of people working from home report higher productivity.
In one self-reported survey, 77 percent of remote workers reported higher productivity and efficiency. This metric isn’t as precise as the one from the Stanford study, since it doesn’t imply how significant the productivity increase is. It’s also muddied by the fact that people are reporting their own productivity; as you can imagine, people are inclined to overestimate their own productivity increase when working from home. Still, a more-than-three-quarters majority of people say they feel more productive, which corroborates the other evidence we see.
4. Home workers are 52 percent less likely to take time off work.
The same survey showed that remote workers are 52 percent less likely to take time off work. This is likely due to the fact that working never seems as bad when you can roll out of bed and get to the job, rather than facing the doldrums of traffic and sterile office environments. Taking vacation days is still a good thing for mental health and overall productivity, but fewer unnecessary sick days should have a positive bottom line effect on productivity.
5. Telecommuters make more money.
According to a study by the Penny Hoarder, telecommuters who make less than $100,000 a year tend to make $4,000 per year more than their non-telecommuting counterparts. There are a few different ways to interpret this, with the most obvious being that people who work from home tend to get more done during the day, which correlates with higher rates of income. It could also be that the people most likely to push for remote work benefits may also be likely to push for raises and bonuses, resulting in higher pay. Either way, working from home has some clear monetary benefits for those who do it.
6. Working from home jobs grew 115 percent in the past decade.
This same report found that jobs that allow working from home grew 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce. Again, there are a few ways to interpret this metric. It could be that employers are starting to realize how much more productive employees are when they work from home, and as a result, they’re adding more remote working positions to their workforce. It could also be that more people are eager to create positions of their own to work from home.
7. 86 percent of people prefer to work alone.
To achieve maximum productivity, 86 percent of employees prefer to work by themselves, according to a study by Ask.com. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working by yourself; people can cluster together and work in small groups. However, most people who work from home do work alone, meaning they’re capitalizing on this productivity increase. Working alone means you don’t have to deal with impromptu interruptions or distractions from other people, so it makes sense that they see a boost in production.
8. 61 percent of people claim loud colleagues are their biggest distraction.
The same report indicated that most people find loud colleagues to be their biggest distraction at work. Everyone likes to claim they’re busy with productive work all the time, but if you’ve ever worked in an office, you know this isn’t the case. People make a lot of noise, and interject on a regular basis with both on-topic and off-topic conversations. If you work from home, you can control your own environment, completely free from distractions if you so desire.
9. 72 percent of people prefer email as a communication medium.
Rather than speaking in person, talking over the phone, or texting, 72 percent of people prefer to email when communicating. Email has a ton of advantages, giving you the ability to take your time and write exactly what you want, and giving you a digital paper trail so you can always go back and revisit past conversations. It’s also immediate, but doesn’t require the other party to be immediately available, and it’s used by people all over the world. If you use the right email productivity tools, you can easily become an email master. What does this have to do with working from home? When you work from home, email is often going to be your primary communication channel, taking priority over in-person conversations and meetings. Accordingly, most people function better in this environment.
10. 82 percent of telecommuters report lower stress.
Stress is a major factor to your bottom-line productivity, and 82 percent of remote workers report lower levels of stress when working from home. Maybe it’s the comfort of your home environment, maybe it’s not dealing with traffic, or maybe it’s not having to wear pants. Whatever the root of the effect is, it’s a powerful one, and one that’s hard to refute. Work from home and deal with less stress. Be less stressed and get more done.
11. People who work from home periodically are happier.
OWL Labs found that employees working from home at least once per month are 24 percent more likely to feel happy at work. Happy and satisfied employees are, as you might suspect, more productive (not to mention less likely to leave). Again, there are many reasons why someone might feel happier when working from home, but the point is that happiness increase is consistent across the board.
12. Turnover is 25 percent lower in companies with remote positions.
The same report found 25 percent lower turnover for positions that allow for working at home. This is likely tied into the happiness and stress components of the job; if people are grateful for the opportunity to work from home, they’ll be far less likely to quit.
13. Companies with fully remote workforces hire 33 percent faster.
If your team is fully remote, your business can likely fill roles 33 percent faster than your competitors. This affects the overall productivity of your team because it means you’ll be stuck with unfilled positions for much shorter periods of time, and you’ll spend far more time at peak teamwork and productivity. If you work in an HR department, this obviously has a massive effect on your bottom-line results, but any department can enjoy the benefits.
14. Employers lose $1.8 trillion a year due to lack of employee engagement.
It’s estimated that employers lose $1.8 trillion every year due to low employee engagement. This is due to a combination of factors; disengaged employees are less productive, they take more unnecessary days off, they’re more likely to quit, and they’re more likely to take malicious action against the company. Employees who work from home tend to be much more engaged with their work, helping you avoid most of these potential losses. Be sure to check out our post on employee engagement ideas and activities if you feel like your employees aren’t engaged, or our list of employee engagement quotes!
15. 23 percent of employees now do at least some work from home.
The BLS reports that 23 percent of United States workers now do at least some work from home on a regular basis. The number of people working from home is constantly increasing, which is a sign that businesses have more faith that their employees will be productive under these conditions. Granted, this is an indirect indication that employees are more effective when working from home, but if working from home was a bad thing for employee productivity, these numbers would likely be in decline.
Other Benefits of Working From Home
Increased productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction are the clear benefits of working from home according to these working from home productivity statistics, but they aren’t the only benefits an organization can enjoy by adopting a work from home policy. Here are just some of the other advantages:
- Lower office costs. If you own your business and currently lease an office, you should tally up the expenses you’d save by going fully remote. It’s a bold move to let all your employees work from home at once, but if it’s possible with your business, you could feasibly save thousands of dollars a month.
- Better employment options. If you’re hiring remote workers, you won’t be limited to people who live in your local area; you can feasibly choose candidates from all over the country, or even all over the world. This greatly increases your range of available options, and allows you to find better fits for available positions.
- Environmental benefits. When working from home, people won’t be driving or even taking public transportation to work. As a result, greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by your team will be significantly lower, which has a positive effect on the environment.
Be sure to check out our other posts on remote work statistics and productivity statistics if you liked these and want more! And don’t miss our 51 working from home tips that are scientifically proven to boost productivity.
Are you interested in learning more about your productivity, or the productivity of your employees? If so, you’ll need objective statistics like these to help you analyze your efforts. One of the best all-around tools for modern businesses is EmailAnalytics, which integrates with your Gmail accounts to provide you with statistics like number of emails sent and received, email frequency throughout the day, and duration of email threads. Sign up for a free trial today, and learn what EmailAnalytics can do for your business!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.