Survey: Remote Working Creates Productivity Challenges

More than half of remote workers say they get less done at home
man working from his living room floor

If you’re thinking about asking your boss to let you work from home in 2020, make sure you consider the pros and the cons. While being able to work in your pajamas may sound appealing, a new survey suggests that working remotely could make you less productive.

Olivet Nazarene University sought to gain insight into the modern workplace by surveying 2,009 office workers, including those who sometimes worked from remote locations. Of the survey sample, 55% of respondents were women, and 45% were men, with an overall average age of 37.

A majority of workers — 77% — said they were happy with the way their workplace is set up, but some also took advantage of opportunities to work remotely. Of those surveyed, 2 out of 5 said they have the option of working offsite up to “a few times per month,” with most (79%) choosing to work from home in such cases, instead of at a coffee shop or a dedicated coworking space.

When working from home, many respondents take advantage of the privacy it affords:

  • 59% said they dress more casually than they would at work
  • 25% said they dress in a way they “wouldn’t want anyone to see”
  • 18% said they dress the same way they would at work

One in three have even admitted to tackling their duties “naked or in their underwear” when at home.

However, the survey also found that the convenience of working from home sometimes comes at a cost. Slightly more than half of remote workers (58%) said they were less productive when they work remotely.

On top of that, 80% said they multitask more when working from home, doing personal chores such as laundry, interacting with family or even watching television. Also, 56% said they communicate less with co-workers when working from home, leading some to experience feelings of isolation.

When asked what was hardest about working remotely:

  • 46% said distractions
  • 18% said ending the workday
  • 18% said collaborating with co-workers
  • 9% said being accountable
  • 5% said miscommunication
  • 4% said finding reliable Wi-Fi

Having a partially remote workforce can also impact those who work in the office. Among respondents, 42% said they find it difficult to work with remote co-workers. Among the reasons:

  • Co-workers’ unavailability (42%)
  • Difficulty collaborating (25%)
  • Different time zones (20%)
  • Miscommunications (13%)

While many companies are giving employees the option of working remotely, it’s up to workers to make such arrangements successful for them.

Working remotely requires discipline. It may make sense to draw boundaries between your business and personal life, and save the personal chores for after you sign off from work. Otherwise, you may ultimately end up working more hours in order to fulfill your work obligations.

Also, take steps to open the lines of communication between yourself and co-workers — whether they are in your physical space or not — through email, messaging apps and even the phone.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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