Almost a year removed from the earliest waves of COVID -19 lockdowns, new data has emerged showing how remote work impacts worker’s productivity levels.
In terms of cost management, obviously, remote work benefits employers so long as employees remain productive while working from home. This is because they can reduce their overhead costs by not operating vast quantities of office space, but again, such a cost reduction is not viable if remote work decreases worker’s productivity.
This has, for a long time, been the popular reasoning against remote work—sure, the costs are lower, but workers simply cannot be trusted to work from home, where the lines between work and life blur, and personal responsibilities and even hobbies can get in the way.
The mass push into remote work brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns, however, has brought new insights into remote work as large swaths of the nation’s workforce necessarily built up their home offices and jumped into remote work. And these new insights have shown just how misguided previous fears about remote worker productivity were, and also suggest companies need to explore new systems to onboard a remote workforce.
Remote Work Before COVID-19
As it turns out, we’ve known for quite some time that remote work did not represent a danger to worker output; it’s just that people didn’t believe it. Indeed, way back in 2015, Stanford published a 16,000-employee study that found at-home work increased productivity by 13%. According to the study, the increase can be attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment, and working more minutes per shift with fewer breaks and sick days.
In giving people a work-life balance, they feel less trapped by the day-to-day and minute-to-minute tasks they perform, requiring less breaks to clear their head and reset. While employers formerly believed that access to the trappings of home life (kids, cats, the comfy couch) would distract workers from their jobs, it turns out that the opposite is true.
Of note, the same Stanford study showed that remote work increased worker satisfaction and decreased attrition rates by 50%.
This is backed by Owl Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work, which reported remote workers work more than 40 hours per week 43% more often than their on-site counterparts. Owl also claims that on-site workers who work more than 40 hours do so because management requires it, while remote workers do so because they genuinely like what they do. Increased productivity, increased satisfaction, what’s not to like?
Remote Work Since COVID-19
Pandemic data shows a more marked increase in remote worker productivity. Prodoscore reports that overall (remote and on-site) productivity increased in March and April of 2020 by a whopping 47% compared to the same months in 2019, and this increase was “led by remote workers.”
Keep in mind that this data came from the craziest, most paranoia-ridden days of the pandemic when people were distracted, distressed, and discomforted. They were also setting up home offices on the fly. Yet despite all of that, productivity increased.
Another report, this one from Airtasker, adds even more color to these numbers, showing that at-home workers spent significantly less time avoiding work (-15% compared to onsite workers) and spent more time working per month (+1.4 days).
Finally, according to the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics, 30% of at-home workers believe they are more productive working from home. The same study estimates that remote work removes 62.4 million commuting hours per day, and a total of 9 billion commuting hours were saved from March, 2020-September, 2020.
Again, it seems that when surrounded by their own familiar comforts, people are actually more inclined to be productive, not less.
Remote Employee Verification for Remote Employees
However, this increased productivity presents new challenges.
Remote workers, just like on-site workers, must demonstrate employment eligibility as outlined by the federal government by completing Form I-9. Whereas employers could quickly verify employment eligibility in office for on-site workers, remote workers present HR teams with new challenges.
This is where TrendSource’s Remote I-9 Verifications can help. Whether contracted through a company’s in-house or outsourced HR compliance management system, TrendSource’s Employment Eligibility Verifications allow for remote new hires to be onboarded without traveling to company headquarters.
Remote I-9 Verifications meet all legal requirements for onboarding new hires, are easy to schedule, and can be imported into companies’ HR management systems.
Times were already changing before COVID, and things are now moving faster than ever. As the workforce evolves, so too must the systems to manage compliance. TrendSource’s Remote I-9 Verification is a necessary tool for companies undergoing their own evolution.
If workers are increasing their efficiencies and productivity, their employers should do the same.