Distractions such as the need to rise early, the hassle of commuting, and endless chitchat with colleagues make remote work look like the solution. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics found that businesses lose $600 billion a year in workplace distractions. With workers preferring a remote or hybrid work setup, you’d think that’s the way we’ll continue to do business. However, this may soon change as a new study showed a 10% lower productivity with fully remote work.
Calling for a return to the office
People have reaped the benefits of working remotely even beyond the pandemic such as the diminished stress of traveling over long periods of time, but a study from Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy and Research points out some of the negatives. Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis include “communicating remotely, barriers to mentoring, building culture and issues with self-motivation” as factors to the decreased productivity in a fully remote work setup. The paper also found that hybrid work appears to have no impact on productivity, and is still being adapted by companies. Due to this development, companies are finding justification for their call on employees to return to the office. Some are mandating workers to report onsite as soon as possible.
New Stanford paper on working from home https://t.co/iiXGD7GWdb
Some key points:
1) WFH is up 500% since 2019
2) Fully-remote is much cheaper, but can lower productivity
3) Hybrid improves retention, with no productivity loss
4) WFH will keep growing as technology improves pic.twitter.com/dGSq8TcpCJ
— Nick Bloom (@I_Am_NickBloom) July 2, 2023
Among Business Insider’s list of companies calling for a return to the office, mostly on a hybrid working system, are the likes of Google, Apple, and Disney, to name a few. Even Zoom, the company almost synonymous with remote work amid the pandemic, has asked employees to return to the office. A Zoom spokesperson shared that “we believe that a structured hybrid approach — meaning employees that live near an office need to be on-site two days a week to interact with their teams — is most effective for Zoom.”
While other companies have been offering a hybrid schedule system, others may be intent on the eradication of the full remote working setup. LinkedIn reported that similar to the pandemic fads we’ve seen that have come and gone, there was also a decline in job postings offering remote jobs. From 10% in January 2021, an increase to 20% in March 2022 was seen. However, it declined to 14% by November of the same year.
Although the new study found a lower productivity rate with fully remote work, some companies are still opting to continue this practice to save further costs. Fully remote work means less consumption of company utilities and other office resources. Will cost-saving outweigh the negative effects of a fully remote working environment?
Hybrid the way to go?
It seems like a hybrid setup is the common ground for both employees and employers for now. Businesses will be able to reap the benefit of lesser cost, and workers will maintain the work-life balance they have grown accustomed to since the work-from-home arrangement was offered.
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Dmytro Zinkevych. The infographic in the body of the article is owned by Statista.
Source: Global Workplace Analytics / Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy and Research / Shana Lebowitz, Marguerite Ward, Emily Canal, Rebecca Knight, and Alexandra York (Business Insider) / Megan Cerullo (CBS News) / George Anders (LinkedIn)