In December a Financial Post Workplace Law column on Absenteeism indicated that Working From Home, Smoke Breaks and Stress Leave were, in the opinion of the writer, the three leading causes of lost productivity in 2015.
Having Working From Home on that list surprised me so I did a bit of checking to see what others had to say about it. Harvard Business Review (January-February 2014) ran an article about a research study on working from home – it is entitled “To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work From Home”.
A study on the effectiveness of telecommuting reported on in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest (Vol 16, #2, 2015) found that it reduces stress, increases worker satisfaction and organizational commitment and improves overall performance.
Yahoo made headlines last year when their CEO decided to eliminate remote working in order to improve productivity and collaboration.
My quick check on remote work was a good reminder – in order to achieve good productivity in remote work situations a number of factors must be in place:
- The job needs to be suitable for remote work
- The person must be comfortable with and capable of the remote work relationship
- Managers have to have the managerial skills and confidence necessary to manage people they ‘can’t see’
- Good working conditions (space, equipment, etc.) and a positive work environment(healthy organizational culture with clear expectations and good communication channels) and appropriate and effective work processes all need to exist
- Remote workers should be involved in workplace activities and be physically present in the workplace on a regular basis.
I am inclined to believe that, whether the person is a remote worker or an on-site worker, productivity is affected most by whether or not the individual believes their work is meaningful and their effort and results are appreciated and matter. I am also inclined to believe that if that is true, absenteeism isn’t a problem.