Is Long-Term Working From Home Fueling Productivity?

In this guest post, David Tattersall, Head of Client Relations at Handpicked Accountants, talks about the productivity boost related to long-term working from home and how managers can employ ideas to boost productivity even more.

The COVID pandemic that confined workers to the safety of their homes was a precursor of working from home to be embraced by individuals and workplaces on a national scale. To allow for the smooth running of business operations and to protect the health of workers, revising internal infrastructures for secure remote working was a necessity.

Taking an inevitable turn, workplaces across the country set their sights on integrating permanent flexibility by introducing long-term working from home and remote working. The pandemic pushed businesses to switch from taking a hypothetical to actionable approach concerning remote working. One year later, businesses across the country are now in a position where they can gauge the impact of productivity while working from home.

Working From Home Is Not a New Initiative

A minority of workplaces across the country had already been exercising long-term working from home before the pandemic. This allowed employees to work freely in a personalized setting in the comfort of their own homes. By allowing staff to dictate their work setups, the task of physical office upkeep was eliminated. As a result, overhead was lowered significantly.

The advancement of technology has enabled workers to effectively carry out duties from different environments across the world. Since the introduction of reliable video and virtual conferencing software, working from home has proved possible for many businesses. Alternatively, a hybrid model of working from home can often be used to split time between the home and office.

The Spike in Long-Term Working From Home

A WISERD report titled “Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown,” found that although “homeworking was on a gradual, but slow, upward trajectory,” pre-lockdown, popularity tripled to 4.7% in comparison to 1.5% in 1981.

Following the lockdown announcement, long-term working from home spiked as workers took to their homes to reduce transmission of the virus. The proportion of individuals reporting they worked exclusively at home rose eight-fold, from 5.7% in January/February 2020 to 43.1% in April 2020. Even though it had fallen by June 2020, the report shows that it remained high at 36.5%.

Only time will tell if remote work is here to stay for a larger majority of businesses. However, statistics released by the Office for National Statistics, found that 67% of British businesses that participated in the survey do not intend to continue with homeworking in the future.

Working with the intention that this is only a short-term arrangement may influence the way individuals operate in response to the temporary solution. However, long-term working from home a sense of permanency can drive focus as you are not expecting to strive away from routine or expect disruption.

Productivity Patterns When Working From Home 

Productivity in a long-term working from home scenario varies among employees. The common fear among employers is that productivity may plummet without direct supervision from a line manager. Nearly 40% of surveyed virtual workers shared the view that working from home did not significantly impact productivity. Furthermore, work production continued at the same rate as that of the pre-pandemic era. Over a quarter said that productivity increased and around 30 percent claimed productivity had dropped. 

Increased productivity while working from home may likely be for several reasons, such as:

  • Flexible time management: The omission of the daily commute spares more time in the working day and accessing work software in the comfort of your own home could increase work speed and bolster productivity. 
  • Comfortable setting: Working in a familiar setting designed to boost your mood and encourage creativity can help you perform better at work while remaining focused.
  • Financial savings: Reducing the amount of time spent commuting to the office can alleviate stress and financial worries that would otherwise cloud your mind during the working day.

The way different colleagues operate is likely to vary as those accustomed to the workplace may experience a sense of detachment from the office. Although working from home may be convenient, colleagues might prefer to work in a professional setting. Moreover, personal interaction is paramount for these individuals. Not only can this trigger spontaneous thoughts but also help bounce around ideas that would otherwise not have surfaced in a long-term work from home setting.

Tips to Boost Productivity in a Remote Setting 

The first step to encourage productivity is to eliminate distractions in your home. Here’s how you can achieve this with ease: 

  • Create a routine that separates caretaking of the home and professional commitments to ensure both duties can be fulfilled.
  • Strike an ideal balance between work and home life to ensure both aren’t entirely blended or neglected. Planning in advance can help ensure that your priorities are met. 
  • Keep your mind engaged by visually planning your office set-up, surrounding it with thought-provoking visuals to help perform better.
  • Exercising both physically and mentally during the working day can help stimulate your mind and make way for creative thinking. Restricted movement can lead to a build-up of stress and anxiety, whereas, exercise can release unhealthy toxins and unwanted thoughts. 
  • Take regular breaks to decompress. Overworking and exhausting yourself can result in burnout that could reflect on the quality of your work and result in reduced interaction with colleagues. Spacing out concentration heavy tasks during the day can help lighten the load on your brain and keep you focused.

Successful Long-Term Working From Home Is All About Understanding Personality Types

As with any workplace, each colleague may represent a different character type, accustomed to different working styles and comfortable in varied environments. As some may experience increased productivity in an office setting, the remaining may perform better in a remote work setting. 

Understanding each employee and offering a work structure that takes into consideration individual choices, can help bridge this gap and maintain high productivity levels. By engineering flexibility into working lives, you can establish new performance targets and make way for a new style of working.

David Tattersall

Author Bio

David Tattersall is Head of Client Relations at Handpicked Accountants, a reputable online network that connects outperforming accountants with SMEs and self-employed professionals across the country. Each accountant is tried and tested to match ambitious benchmarks set out by the renowned Handpicked Accountants team. David is instrumental in assisting SMEs to locate an accountant with ease, removing the lottery from the selection process. 

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