So, what’s the story here? What does the data show? Is working from home (or WFH, a.k.a. telecommuting/teleworking) a benefit or a boon for the modern day office? You might be surprised.
There are three primary concerns that companies express when considering WFH as a viable workforce option:
- Will WFH help to increase productivity?
- Will WFH help to increase profitability?
- Will WFH positively impact our workforce?
These three concerns are at the top of the heap of questions that companies want answered before they deploy WFH options across their organizations. After all, if a company cannot answer these questions with a resounding “YES!” then it would be foolish for management to consider WFH at all.
Well, according to a recent Sanford University study, the answer to both of these important questions is, indeed, yes.
Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom conducted a 9-month experiment at Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, with 16,000 employees, that measured the performance impact of call center workers allowed to work from home versus the performance of the control group, workers that worked in the office. The results were quite astonishing:
“First, the performance of the home workers went up dramatically, increasing by 13% over the nine months of the experiment. This improvement came mainly from a 9% increase in the number of minutes they worked during their shifts (i.e., the time they were logged in to take calls). This was due to reductions in breaks, time off, and sick days taken by the home workers. The remaining 4% improvement
came from home workers increasing the number of calls per minute worked. In interviews, the workers attributed the increase in time worked to the greater convenience of being at home (e.g., the ease of getting tea, coffee, or lunch or using the toilet) and the increased output per minute to the relative quiet at home. Second, there appear to be no spillovers to the rest of the group. Comparing the control group to similar workers in Ctrip’s other call center…we see no performance drop despite the control group’s having lost the treatment lottery. Third, attrition fell sharply among the home workers, dropping by 50% versus the control group. Home workers also reported substantially higher work satisfaction and had more positive attitudinal survey outcomes…The overall impact of WFH was striking. The firm improved total factor productivity by between 20% to 30% and saved about $2,000 a year per employee WFH. About two-thirds of this improvement came from the reduction in office space and the rest from improved employee performance and reduced turnover.”
Wow! Incredible gains all around.
A common element of WFH initiatives that inevitably comes up is how to maintain proper access, security, and chain of custody control for a broadly distributed workforce. That’s where Morgan Records’ WebConnect comes in.
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Andrew Locke enjoys hiking, playing music, theology, soccer and spending down time with his five fabulous children and beautiful wife.
Quote to live by: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”