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Telecommuters Are More Productive, No Matter the Task

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Telecommuters Are More Productive, No Matter the Task


· Agile Zone ·
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Telecommuters are more productive

Of course telecommuters are more productive. They get to work like this.

The virtues of working remotely have long been trumpeted, whether in terms of lower stress levels, higher productivity, or better work/life balance.

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A recent study from the Florida International University College of Business explores whether telecommuting retains the productivity benefits even when working on highly complex projects. And (not at all suprisingly) their findings suggest this is indeed the case, largely because working remotely ensures that the worker suffers from fewer interruptions.

"We find that for most job characteristics we examine in our study, telecommuting doesn't significantly hurt job performance," the authors say. "For some job features, performance is better with more extensive telecommuting and in others, the impact is neutral."

Remote work and complex projects

The researchers reasoned that there had already been plenty of research into telecommuting in terms of work-life balance, flexibility, employee engagement, and various aspects like that, but they wanted to look at its productivity impact, especially for complex projects that require high levels of interdependence and team work.

They gathered data from a pool of some 273 telecommuters along with their managers at a company that offered telecommuting on a voluntary basis. The pool consisted of employees from IT, engineering, accounts, sales, and marketing, with the average person working remotely two days per week.

The data revealed that working remotely clearly improved job performance when the level of social support from colleagues was low (ie, they're not helpful colleagues), suggesting that remote work provides a distance from such unsupportive relationships. Whilst the finding is interesting, the authors themselves concede that much more needs to be done to understand when remote work is helpful, and when it's not.

"We haven't done a good job of understanding how electronic communication can substitute face-to-face interaction; the thought is that when you're away from the office something suffers," they say. "Also, there may be a generation of people just as comfortable, if not more, working via electronic technology as face-to-face."

Further reading: 

Working From Home Boosts Performance by 13 Percent

Why You Should Work Remotely as a Developer in 2019

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