Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

If you want and like working from home, your answer is “Yes!”

If you hate working at home and can’t wait to return to work, your answer is “No!”

The truth?

Some people can be productive anywhere. You could put them on the moon and they would find a way to get done what needs to get done. Many of us, need a great deal of structure and guidance, and proper motivation.

We have this giant Work from Home experiment going on right now and a lot of HR folks are pointing to this and going, “See! I told you it would work!” But, is it really working?

The problem is what most of us are doing right now isn’t truly working at home. If you are trying to do childcare to co-habitat with multiple people in a house all trying to do work, it’s not really what a normal work at home situation would be.

Pre-Covid most studies on Work at Home were done by folks who had a mission to get more people to work at home, so quite frankly, I think most of those studies are crap. They didn’t really set out to see what situation would be better, only that working from home is better.

One of the main issues we see with working from home is that your real workers, those ten percenters who put in the most work, put in even more when working from home which could lead to burnout of your best talent. So, you might see productivity gains, but it’s not equal across the board. Like most work, the vast amount of gains is coming from folks who already probably gave you the most!

I’m not a work from home hater by any means. I think it’s a great way to add some flexibility for those employees who need it and can actually make it work. To be very clear, that is not all of your employees. The vast majority will not be more productive at home. And those who love working at home the most might actually be your least productive.

So, should you allow your employees who can continue to work from home? I think during a pandemic the answer is yes! I think once this is all behind us, we have to look at productivity in a normal work from home environment and make those determinations on our own.

In the small sample size, I have with my own company I know there are folks who would kill it no matter where they were working, and I have some folks who better get ready to return to the office!

The key to working from home isn’t your ability to actually be able to work at home. It’s your ability to be as good or better working at home as you were working from the office, in a normal business environment. We are not in a normal business environment. So, you working at 40% compacity at home doesn’t mean you’ve proven anything.

So, during this great Work from Home experiment, do you think you are more productive, less productive, or about the same? Hit me in the comments and let me know what you think!

8 thoughts on “Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

  1. We are struggling with this issue at this very moment in my company. As a leader and owner, I know exactly who are my star’s and who just floats along doing just enough. It is interesting that those who are just floating along are the loudest about wanting to work from home. HMMM.

  2. I hope to never return to the confines of a physical workspace ever again. The commute alone sucks 5 plus hours away from productive recruiting/work time. Depending on the function, positional level, and need for daily collaboration, physical proximity is overrated and a waste of time. And really, time is the precious commodity that no one wants to waste. I can find other channels to build important relationships outside of the break room/water cooler.

    • Steve,

      Not to go off on a la la land male-tangent but, I have to disagree with you completely. Physical proximity is under-rated and not a waste of time. This great work from home experiment has uncovered why organizations do have people work in close proximity to each other for higher collaboration and effectiveness.


      • The key to all things in life are balance and moderation. We all need human interaction. Some more than others. The flexibility to work from home is a plus for both the employee and the employer.
        I’ve worked from home 95% of the time for past 17 years. However I have the option to go to a local office if I want or need to for both business and a personal interaction and connection.
        This crisis has shown us all, that in the corporate world very few jobs need to be performed in the office. The question for companies today is to what degree do they return to “normal” or do they forge a totally new normal.

  3. I have done all levels of remote work in my past lives; emergencies/sick only, couple days a week and 100% all day every day. I worked 100% remote for about 7 weeks in my current role and I have not be nearly as productive as I was in my other situations. And on a personal level, the pandemic is not a great excuse for me. I don’t have kids bugging me, and I actually have a pretty good set up because of my previous 100% time. But my role and office, were not set up to be remote. We don’t have any of the proper structure, tools, etc. We have been making it work, but ooof. I am back in the office now and it is much better. We are small and non-customer facing so I have no more safety concerns here than when I am moving through the world. Could we do some sort of remote work eventually? I actually think my company could down the road at least some of the time and quite effectively. Right now the question I ask is, did being thrown into WFH actually hurt or help this cause? TBD.

  4. I would say less, not from lack of motivation or distraction, but more practically it’s a logistics problem. While I can bring laptops & monitors etc. home, my issue was not having a dedicated work space. “At the kitchen table” does not bill itself as the most comfortable and therefore productive work area. I’ll be interested to see what HR Tech (mobile backyard work stations anybody?) does to accommodate for this new need. I’m back in the office now.. Commute sucks, but I have an office here, so there’s that.

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