A recent study prepared by two Harvard University doctoral students, Natalia Emmanuel and Emma Harinton, concluded that the productivity of companies improved thanks to remote work, and that it is better in the coming period to increase employee salaries.
Before the outbreak of the epidemic, only about 5% of Americans were working from home, before the percentage jumped to 62% by May of last year 2020, and then decreased to 40% in the month of October. The question that many people ask after the spread of the remote work model is, is this approach beneficial to companies in terms of productivity? This is why the British magazine The Economist sheds light on the study.
My PhD students study at Harvard
The researchers analyzed employee performance at the call center of an online retail company, between January 2018 and August 2020.
The study found that office workers were answering about 26 calls a day, an average of about every 20 minutes. Their colleagues working remotely, they spent an additional 40 seconds on each call, meaning they were 12% less productive, and this tentatively indicates a decline in the efficiency of employees when working outside the office.
But with further research, and after the company gave a group of its employees the opportunity to work remotely in 2018 and 2019, it was found that productivity improved by 7%, and employees are spending less time away from their phones. When the lockdown measures were imposed last April, the productivity of home workers increased by 7.6%.
Salary increase for home workers
The researchers concluded that despite all the distraction factors at home, remote work boosted the productivity of employees of call centers and other sectors. According to the study, the initial conclusions that revealed that productivity decreased when working away from the office were mainly related to the type of employees who chose this approach at the beginning, and not to the nature of remote work per se.
The researchers believe that the companies’ non-reliance on the remote work model before the pandemic was a wrong choice, and that it is better during the coming period to increase the salaries of employees who work from home to enhance productivity.