What is the real productivity impact of remote work? To better understand the impact of remote work, research and advisory services firm Valoir conducted a broad survey of people working from home and published their findings in a May 2020 report. The report's findings also included 20 in-depth interviews with respondents. Valoir provides research and advisory services with a focus on people apps (CRM and HCM), user adoption, and productivity.
Here are the key findings:
- Remote work has had only a small negative impact on productivity - an average reduction of 1 percent. Those working from home with children reported a slightly larger decrease in productivity of 2 percent. The largest decrease in productivity was reported by those working alone (without other adults or children in the home), who saw an average decrease in productivity of 3 percent.
- The average work day is 9.75 hours, with an average start time of 8:15 am and an average end time of 6 pm. Most people are working during normal work hours, with fewer than 10 percent starting before 7 am or extending their workday beyond 7 pm.
- The biggest distraction from working at home is social media. Nearly one third of respondents - even many of those with children - reported social media was their biggest distraction, devoting nearly two hours to it.
- Most people believe their company is doing a good job supporting remote work. Four out of five workers gave their company a grade of A or B, and fewer than 5 percent gave their company a failing grade.
- Job security is the number one worry. More than one-third of workers say concerns about their company's viability or their job security is their primary concern -- far ahead of illness of themselves, a family member, or loved one.
Valoir CEO Rebecca Wettemann, with more than 20 years of tech industry experience, has led the market in its understanding of the value and human impact of cloud computing, CRM, HCM, AI, and emerging technologies. Wettemann is a thought leader with expertise in product development, go-to-market, M&A, marketing and PR, and digital transformation strategies. She has deep knowledge of cloud, customer relationship relationship (CRM), human capital management (HCM), analytics, AI technology and strategy. You can follow her on Twitter at @rebeccawetteman.
According to Wettemann and Valoir, a shift to remote work had had a minimal negative impact - 1% loss - on productivity. A 1 % decrease in productivity represents less than half of 1 percent of total US GDP. One in 5 workers said their productivity was about the same before the pandemic-forced shutdown. According to the survey, the length of an average workday is nearly 10 hours. For those that did not work from home, the transition to work at home did take some time, but most were positive about their company's support for the transition. More than 40 percent of workers would prefer to work remotely full time in the future.
Workers spend 3% of their workday dealing with technology-related remote work issues. This is an important reminder for companies to invest in their digital transformation plans in order to ensure worker mobility, work continuity and secure access. At Salesforce, all employees can manage their business on their smartphones - sales, marketing, customer service and digital commerce work activities are all powered by AI applications on mobile devices. I have been working from home for nearly five years and my tools are a smartphone, tablet and laptop only.
According to the report, in addition to Web and videoconferencing tools, 12 percent of workers are using online collaboration and document sharing tools such as Slack, Salesforce Quip, or Google Docs.
According to Wettemann and Valoir, social media led the list of top distractions, with children ranking second. 32% of people said they were distracted by social media. Children were a significant distraction, accounting for an average of 2.3 hours of their time per day. People are managing these distractions by nearly working 10 hours a day. Here are the top distractions for remote workers:
- Social media - 32%
- Children - 24%
- Other adults - 18%
- Other - 16% (for me, 'other' represents our two big dogs and refrigerator full of snacks)
- Traditional media - 10%
Job-related worries were the top concern for one-third of workers, higher than concerns about illness.
"Obviously economic uncertainty is weighing on many individuals and families, and those with jobs that enable them to work at home have gainful employment and a paycheck. However, their financial future is also their top concern," said Wettemann.
The top 5 concerns for remote workers are: 1. Job/income security (27%), 2. Getting sick (23%),2. Illness of family or loved one (22%), 4. A recession (18%) and 5. Company viability (55).
According to the report: "Regardless of how long the current situation lasts, it will have a significant impact of what we consider a normal work day for the foreseeable future." The report recommends that workers do their best to manage a work-life balance, become more technologically self-sufficient and learn to be more collaborative. I have written a series of articles that speak to how to effectively work remotely. I find the Valoir's findings to be very encouraging - given the incredible difficulties of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, a 1% loss of productivity is an amazingly positive outcome.