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The Productivity Boost of Working from Home

by Doug Boebinger, MS, PMP®, PMTA-CTP

A Man Working from Home

The opening paragraph from Scott Mautz’s November 2020, Inc.com article, “A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working From Home,” sums it up well.

“There has been much debate about working from home and whether or not it’s a productivity boost or major productivity drain. Paranoid managers envision employees lying on their couches at home in Metallica concert T-shirts eating Doritos off their belly and watching Ellen.”

The nearly two-year Stanford study showed that work-from-home employees do the same, if not more, work than those working in a physical office. Work-at-home employees found themselves to be less distracted and better able to concentrate.

If you are familiar with the Eisenhower Urgent vs. Important time management priority model, there are many fewer Q3 Interruptions in a work-at-home situation.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) did a study in 2013 and repeated it in 2020 of “knowledge workers” who worked at home vs. those who worked at a traditional office. Here are their key findings:

  • Lockdown helps us focus on the work that really matters. We are spending 12% less time drawn into large meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers and external partners.
  • Lockdown helps us take responsibility for our own schedules. We do 50% more activities through personal choice — because we see them as important — and half as many because someone else asked us to.
  • During lockdown, we view our work as more worthwhile. We rate the things we do as valuable to our employer and to ourselves. The number of tasks rated as tiresome drops from 27% to 12%, and the number we could readily offload to others drops from 41% to 27%.

Forbes recent article, “New Survey Shows 47% Increase In Productivity: 3 Things You Must Do When Working From Home,” suggests:

  1. Get Comfortable
  2. Build Boundaries
  3. Reconfigure the Water Cooler

As a person who has worked from home for 14 years (except when I travelled for work – ahh, the good ol’ days), I needed to figure out how to do all three of these items.

The article rightly states that there is one downside of working from home, it can be lonely and it can impact team cohesion. So, my suggestion would be to make it a priority to schedule regular virtual “15 minute stand-up meetings” with your team once a day.

On a personal note, I was thrilled to see that HBR showed that “Training and Development” went from 1.5% of a person’s time to 8.7% of a person’s time. During these difficult times, we need to take time to improve ourselves and our skills.

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