Remote Workers Are More Productive, Return to Office Meets Resistance

This article is in partnership with Day Translations.

Return To Office Mandates Are Backfiring

Many headlines in 2023 and 2024 warned about the negative repercussions of forcing employees who had been working from home to return to their office.

To name a few, Startups, Chief and TechCentral reported that there is no such thing as a smooth return to the office as it is encountering plenty of opposition and resistance.

On the one hand, we have people like WebMD’s Chief Executive, Bob Brisco, who issued a patronising video “lecture” where he told his employees he was going to get “more serious” about the whole issue of working from home and practically threatening people that they should be working in the office instead.

Then, there is the the phenomenon of people simply quitting when told to return to the office, giving a strong and clear message that they will not compromise on the flexibility they had been enjoying, but also that have their own standards and boundaries.

On top of everything else, there is also evidence through studies that even bosses who are in favour of a return to the office have “buyer’s remorse” because they wish they had more data to base their decisions on and be more strategic about the move.

Basically, this all boils down to the fact that some bosses in a number of organisations simply followed their own opinion about working in the office rather than crunch the numbers and hear what their employees have to say about it.

Do you know what the most glaringly obvious result of working from home is? It’s productivity.

Remote Workers Are More Productive and This Is Why

An article by PRNewswire looked at data about remote working and did all the number-crunching so we don’t have to.

It is worth noting that remote working and working from home is a key factor to safeguard diversity and inclusion within an organisation, as it caters for families, single parents, those with caring responsibilities and those with disabilities. We should also remember that individuals have different working styles and thrive better when working independently without constant supervision. As long as there are no technological barriers, remote working is one of the most democratic ways to do a job.

The article quotes from a study that showed that remote employees are more productive in absolute terms compared to in-office staff, working at least 30 more minutes being entirely focused per week compared to their in-office colleagues. This translates into almost 60% of focused work for remote teams compared to almost 50% of focused work for in-office teams and an annual gain of 62 work hours for companies.

This net productivity from remote teams is due mainly to the reduced or almost zero interruptions they get on a daily basis. Talking of daily basis, figures of increased productivity for remote workers are interesting: remote teams work solidly for 4.5 hours a day compared to 3.7 hours a day from colleagues in the office.

It has been calculated that it takes 23 minutes to regain full concentration after being interrupted. For an office worker, this amounts to almost an entire workday at 6.5 hours on average.

Of course there are jobs that can’t be done remotely, but in such cases companies still need to get insights and feedback from their employees if they want to retain them in the long term.

If remote workers prefer to have a pay cut to remain working from home or would rather resign than stay in a job that forces them back in the office, it is in a company’s interest to listen actively to what staff members need to do their job well and stay in the company.