Report: Working From Home Is More Efficient Than Ever

The survey found that 22.9% of workers said working remotely was "hugely better" than they'd expected.
Adam Rowe

According to an April 2022 survey, remote US employees reported being around 9% more efficient at home than at a physical office. In the summer of 2020, that increase was just 5%.

As employees adapt over time, they've become increasingly comfortable with working remotely from their home, with survey results indicating they prefer it.

Many companies are still pushing for in-office work — the amount of full and paid working from home days has declined across early 2022 despite holding stable for most of 2021. And since businesses are tightening their bootstraps, helping employees stay remote seems like a simple fix to retain talent.

Survey Says: Remote Work Is Effective

A team of academics from multiple universities, headed by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom, has been running a monthly survey throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with an initial sample size of 5,000 responders (a number that was bumped up in April 2021 from 2,500).

In a January report based off this survey, 22.9% of workers said working remotely was “hugely better” than they'd expected, while another 22% said it was “substantially better.” 26.1% found it to be about the same, and just 5.7% said it was worse.

The most recent results of the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, for May 2022, found more benefits: Most employees found remote work easier when it comes to job searching, and they prefer the flexibility to pick which days of the week they come in to the office rather than stick to a strict Tuesday and Thursday schedule.

One data point shows that respondents are more likely to wear a mask indoors at work than for leisure – a potential sign that they would rather stay home than don a mask, but must do so to stay employed.

This survey might be the most recent evidence that workers like the flexibility of remote work as well as the lack of a commute, but it's far from the only one: Last month, for instance, we covered a study out from the ADP Research Institute, which found that remote employees are slightly more optimistic than non-remote workers — 90% of remote workers report job satisfaction, while 82% of commuters do the same.

Plus, a full 64% of employees say they'd consider starting up a job search if their current boss asked them to return to the office full time.

Companies Aren't Convinced

The same ongoing survey shows that corporations haven't gotten the message, however.

The amount of days during which workers report operating entirely from home has slowly dropped across the first four months of this year, the survey found. Employers are hoping it continues to drop. Here's the chart:

Work from home trend? Down

In-office work can be easier to monitor and justifies office building leases, but won't increase productivity for the large majority of employees.

In recent weeks, plenty of large tech companies have revealed plans to reduce hiring due to pandemic downturns and increasing prices, from social platform giant Meta and chip maker Nvidia to Microsoft. As a result, retaining current top performers is more important than ever.

What's in the Future?

Granted, some workers simply don't work positions that allow them to work entirely remotely, so we'll never see overwhelming numbers of remote workers. And both fully remote and hybrid survey respondants cite the same two perks of in-office work as the ones they consider to be the biggest benefits: Face-to-face collaboration and better socializing.

Plus, a remote business comes with security risks. Businesses small and large should keep an IT team well-equipped with the latest privacy and security softwares, from password managers to remote access software.

Currently, when fully remote, hybrid, and in-office employees are averaged out, some estimations put the number of remote employee days worked at 40% across the country. Many workers want to keep it that way — and companies who want to retain talent will find a healthy “three fully remote days or more per week” work policy will go a long way.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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