Friday, January 30, 2015

Does Working From Home Improve Productivity?

Stanford researchers Nicholas Bloom, James Liang, John Roberts, and Zhichun Jenny Ying have conducted an interesting new study regarding the benefits and costs of working from home.  The scholars conducted an experiment at Ctrip, a Chinese travel agency.  They randomly assigned call center employees to either work from home or work in the office for a nine month period.  What did they find?  Those employees who worked from home experienced a 13% performance increase.  A portion of that increase came from working more minutes per shift (i.e. they took fewer breaks and fewer sick days).  The other portion derived from taking more calls per minute.   The attrition rate for home workers dropped significantly in this study.  These workers also appeared more satisfied with their jobs.   Did quality suffer though?  It did not.  The home workers appeared to be more productive, while not sacrificing the quality of their work. 

Does this mean that home workers always will be more productive?  Not necessarily.   We have to be careful about generalizing these findings.   This study pertained to call center workers.  We may find that other types of work do not experience the same increases in productivity.  For instance, perhaps some forms of work require much more intense coordination among members of a team.  In those instances, home working may bring more challenges and may not lead to productivity increases.  It would be terrific to see a new study examining a different type of work. 

1 comment:

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