More than 24 million Americans work from home at least some of the time. The ability to set your own office hours and take calls from your comfy sofa make working from home? Yes please!
But as more professionals seek the arrangement and more employers agree to it — there has been a 103% increase since 2005 in employees who work from home more than half the time, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com — people have discovered an unexpected upside: They are far more productive at home.
Ask Melissa Llau what she likes about working from home, and she will tell you without hesitation: “I’m much more efficient.” Indeed, Llau, a case manager at United HomeCare in Miami, has been able to take on more patient cases since she relocated to a home office.
Five years ago, United HomeCare sent 60 case managers, including Llau, to work from home, a move that allowed those workers to handle bigger caseloads by eliminating commutes to the office. “We were able to reduce space and make them more efficient, and the employees have more flexibility and are more productive,” says Jacqueline Torre, human resources manager at United HomeCare in Miami.
Just how efficient at-home workers can be surprised one company that tried out the concept. Last year, Chinese travel website Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people in its call center worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit when employees left the discipline of the office environment, according to a study detailed earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review.
Instead, it found that its employees working from home completed 13.5% more calls than staff in the office — which meant that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. In addition, the work-from-home employees also quit at half the rate of people in the office and reported much higher job satisfaction, the study shows.
In a recent FlexJobs survey with more than 2,600 respondents, half reported that their home — and not the office — is their location of choice to be most productive on important work-related projects. They cited fewer interruptions from colleagues, fewer distractions, minimal office politics, reduced stress from commuting and a more comfortable office environment.
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