Can Pajamas Increase Productivity?
I swear I heard a collective sigh of relief this past Friday as people geared up for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone seemed to be anticipating the extra time away from work that would allow them to unwind and focus on fun, family, and giving thanks. At least, that seemed to be the ideal.
However, somewhere along the line, I realized that my long weekends weren’t as relaxing and fun as they used to be. When I stopped to reflect, it occurred to me that it was because, for the most part, I telecommute and work from a home office. As a result, it has become much more challenging to draw boundaries between my home and my work. To relax and truly leave work behind, my husband and I have found ourselves needing to book more weekend getaways that get us out of the house. But, if leaving town for more weekend escapes is the only negative aspect of working from home, then who am I to complain.
To be honest, I initially wasn’t a big fan of the concept and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to work from home. I fell into it as the result of moving in to a consulting role. Now, I’m not sure I’d want to work any other way and feel as if I’ve become part of a secret club that truly has the best of both worlds.
Of course, not everyone would agree. And, although it is becoming less common, there are still many employers who believe allowing their staff to work from home means less productive employees who are easily distracted by family and household obligations. Critics also suggest that employees working from home are less likely to be considered for promotion and less loyal and committed. But, the research suggests their fears are misplaced. While telecommuting works best for those who are self-motivated, disciplined, able to tune out distractions, and have an appropriate workspace, it is, in fact, a win-win for employees and employers. Telecommuting results in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover. These were among the conclusions of psychologists who examined 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements. Ravi Gajendran and David Harrison at Penn State University showed that working from home is good for business and for staff.
The most important aspect of telecommuting is that it provides an opportunity for workers to have maximum control over their work and work environment. For me, this means I decide when and if I take breaks, what I wear to work (no one has to know I’m still in my pajamas!), when and how I do my job, and how I schedule my time to get it done.
It also increases work and family balance by allowing autonomy about when the work is going to get done so it can be integrated with family obligations.
Telecommuting reduces time and money spent travelling to and from work and for me actually increases the number of hours I dedicate to work.
The researchers also found that telecommuting has a positive effect on supervisor-staff relationships. They speculated that the reason for this is that both parties make an extra effort to stay in touch when staff work from home. Telecommuting may mean supervisor and subordinates see each other less, but the quality of their contact may increase.
Not having to rush to work through commuter traffic, spend extra money on lunch and business attire, or worry about being late can reduce stress. This, in combination with better staff- supervisor communication, and more balance with family obligation can decrease tension as well as increase job satisfaction, and increase worker retention.
But perhaps of greatest benefit of telecommuting is that productivity increases by 15 to 40 percent.
The researchers also refuted the concern that not being seen in the office was considered career limiting. Participants in the studies reviewed did not consider their work arrangement a liability and when taken with improved supervisor-staff relations and increased productivity, the at-home work arrangement may have helped those who wish to advance in their careers.
In addition to providing benefits for employees and increased productivity, employers will also see reduced operating and overhead costs, a boost in image as an environmental steward, and less chance for business disruption during an emergency.
The number of teleworkers will continue to rise, and perhaps too the sale of pajamas, as more employers realize both its cost benefits and its potential to attract and retain employees.Posted on 10-11-10
You make a very good case. I also find that my productivity increases dramatically when I’m working at home. It’s such an extreme increase that I find myself resenting my obligatory hours of work—since I’m working faster, being paid per project would be much more lucrative!
I wonder why so many employers are resistant to the idea. Maybe it’s a trust thing?•Posted by Jen Janzen on 10/12/10 at 07:44 AM
Love this and totally agree… working from home has always been my dream and it is as good as expected. I am less stressed - especially when its snowing and I’m cozy at home - experience more of a natural work flow, and get to spend time with my basset hounds. Its the way of the future!•Posted by Janet Naclia on 10/12/10 at 08:39 AM
Thanks you for interesting post! i really love it!•Posted by Randy Otterson on 11/28/13 at 07:52 AM
I work from home as well, and I totally agree a good employee is a great employee when they are in control. In a sense you are your own supervisor at home. It works for the employer, as well as the employee when the employee has initiative and is a self starter.•Posted by Bruce A. Kashinsky on 12/18/13 at 08:45 PM
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