While there has long been a perception that employees who work from home don't work as hard as those in an office, perceptions are shifting, according to a study from Dell and Intel. More than half of employees globally now believe that their peers who work from home are just as productive, or more productive, than those in the office.
Remote employees also feel like they get more done from the comfort of their own home. Of those who spend any time working from home, half believe they are more productive there than in the office, while 36 percent think they are equally as productive in both locations. Just 14 percent of those surveyed believe they get less done when working from home.
Bob O'Donnell, founder and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, told the study's authors that many employees today have better equipment and faster Internet connections in their homes than they do in their place of work.
"So, we're seeing experiments where more people are working at home more often than they had before," O’Donnell said in the research.
At-home employees cite a number of benefits to working outside the office. The study revealed that 30 percent sleep more, 40 percent drive less and 46 percent feel less stressed.
However, working from home does have some downsides. More than 80 percent of at-home employees say others who are in the house at the same time — such as spouses, children, parents and pets — can distract them. Additionally, 20 percent of employees exercise less when working from home, while 38 percent snack more.
Other negatives to working from home extend beyond how much work employees can get done. Nearly 20 percent of at-home workers think not being in the office every day has hindered their career growth, and 23 percent believe there are fewer opportunities for advancement for people who work from home.
The research shows that the average employee spends at least some time each week working from home. While employees spend an average of 32 hours each week working from their office, they also spend an average of 5 hours working from home each week.
Distractions are just as much of a problem for office workers as they are for at-home employees. While more than three-quarters of office-based employees said they feel they work best in an office at their desk, 48 percent indicated that they are frequently interrupted by colleagues.
The study also showed that the office doesn't seem to aid in increasing interpersonal communications either, with 51 percent of employees still frequently instant messaging or emailing colleagues who are located physically near them, rather than talking with them directly.
Besides those who work from home during the day, the majority of employees are also spending some time after-hours working from home. Nearly 65 percent of employees globally conduct at least some business at home after business hours.
Genevieve Bell, U.S. director of user experience for Intel Corp., said there is far more blurring of the lines between working in an office and at home than ever before.
"If you're in the knowledge work business, you work in the tech field or in the creative and arts field, I think it's safe to say that there's been a great more blurring of work," Bell said. "It no longer just happens in the office — it follows you home; it follows you to other places."
The study was based on surveys of 4,764 full-time employees of small, medium and large organizations in 12 countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, China, India, Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
by Chad Brooks