While multiple studies confirmed a 5-8% jump in productivity since the great shift to remote work, leaders are divided on whether this is a temporary anomaly or the dawn of a new era.
There are a few asterisks to consider with the pandemic productivity figures:
Either way, no one is doubting that productivity has risen. The only questions are by how much, and how long it will last.
Some reasons for remote worker productivity are obvious. Without a commute, remote workers are able to start earlier and stay on later. 55% of remote workers in an Owl Labs say they log more hours than they did in an office (the equivalent of 16.8 additional work days per year, on average).
That said, virtual workers often find personal and work time blurring together, whether it’s getting up to finish up a report at 3 a.m, or responding to a teammate’s question during their daughter’s violin recital.
Pre-pandemic research suggests that remote workers go through a “honeymoon” period where productivity spikes for a few months as workers revel in their newfound flexibility. But once the honeymoon is over, productivity tends to follow one of two trajectories:
So, how can organizations maintain their in-office productivity when transitioning to and/or maintaining a virtual environment long term?
In the end, while it’s fair to ask whether virtual work is sustainable, it’s just as fair to ask if 100% in-person models are sustainable. A McKinsey survey found a quarter of employees would consider switching employers if their organization asked them to work fully on-site.