are a great way for many businesses to reduce overhead costs. A virtual office can cut expenses like utilities, furniture and rent, keeping money in a business owner's pocket. A common concern though, is worker productivity. Will telecommuters still stay productive, or become lazy and distracted if left to their own devices?
Telecommuters are Driven and Hard-Working
A new FlexJobs study
on the efficacy of telecommuting found that the majority of telecommuters are experienced, creative, and driven. Telecommuters are not slackers, nor is this desire to telecommute rooted in fanciful daydreaming or a desire to spend more time with family. 79 percent of telecommuters say their primary goal is to find a better work/life balance. An overwhelming 98 percent of respondents say they would be more productive working from home
, claiming the main factor for their productivity is that there are fewer co-workers interrupting them during a task.
Other major factors influencing productivity include reduced commute time (freeing up employees to accomplish more in a day), reduced stress (as being in a home environment can make employees feel more comfortable and confident when working), and freedom from office politics.
Brown University Study: More Productivity and Higher Job Satisfaction
Brown University and a NASDAQ-listed Chinese business randomly selected a group of 255 call center employees who voluntarily worked from home. The study tracked their job performance over the course of 9 months. The study found an 8.5 percent increase in number of minutes worked per shift, and a 3.5 percent productivity increase. Most impressive though, was that the “work-from-home” group experienced a major increase in job satisfaction, with employee retention rates jumping an impressive 50 percent.
Stanford University economist Nick Bloom attributes the elimination of office distractions as the cause of the increased productivity. Bloom says, "In the office it's very noisy, you can hear the guy next to you on the phone or the person across the desk crying because their boyfriend just split up with them. It's very distracting.”
Working From Home Also Has Health Benefits
Christine Hoehner, a professor of public health at Washington University, found that employees who commuted long distances to work were in poorer shape, weighed more, and had higher blood pressure than those with short commute distances. Working from home is thought to be less stressful than commuting, and therefore, less likely to contribute to weight gain, hypertension, heart disease, and an assortment of other health problems.
Healthier employees are known to be more productive employees, as an employee in good health will take fewer sick days, have greater stamina, and be more productive than an employee in poor health.
Psychologists have studied workplace motivation factors since the 1950s, when it was discovered that the act of merely watching someone work increased their productivity. Over the last sixty years, the data has accumulated. Working from home reduces stress, improves health and happiness, and boosts productivity. The savvy business owner can reduce overhead costs and increase output by replacing a physical office
with a virtual one