Can Remote Workers Match the Productivity of Their Office-based Counterparts?

Working in your pyjamas was fun while it lasted, but the time has come for employers to assess the contributions of remote workers objectively and decide whether the work-from-home business model has a viable future. 

Is remote work here to stay?

After the pandemic-triggered lockdowns forced companies around the world to allow workers to stay at home and participate virtually, we all happily traded conference rooms for Zoom meetings. The initial returns were surprisingly positive, which prompted some employers to start rethinking the strategies for workforce deployment.

Fast forward two years ahead and the opinions are split regarding the outcome of this experiment. Most companies have long since returned to pre-pandemic norms, but there are also a lot more believers in the power of digital decentralisation than in 2020. Both sides have some strong arguments that deserve to be heard, and we tried to briefly summarise both positions.

can Remote Workers Match the Productivity of Their Office-based Counterparts?

The case for remote work: a happy workforce is a productive workforce

There is little doubt that workers who are freed from the obligation to appear in the office daily are exposed to far less stress. Instead of wasting energy on commuting and attending endless staff meetings, they can focus on doing what’s important. It’s no wonder that remote workers are better motivated and better organised, which often translates to more work completed in the same timeframe.

The case for a return to the office: distributed teams are more difficult to manage

While managers enjoy having motivated workers in their teams, they also like to retain some control over the output. That’s far more difficult to do when everyone is operating on a different schedule and performs his tasks out of the direct line of sight. Those issues are amplified when the size of the team is very large or the complexity of the project requires close cooperation between multiple specialists.

The verdict

The numbers seem to back up the idea that remote workers can match or exceed the productivity levels of traditional nine-to-five card punchers. However, this may not be the case in every industry and office-based teams may still have an advantage on high-level projects

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