Are Remote Workers Productive?


As someone who has been in the workforce for a few decades, I have seen a lot of change. Back in the 1980’s when I began my career, working on a computer was a novel concept (IBM XP with dual floppy drives was impressive at the time). The Internet didn’t exist, mobile communicators were something I saw on Star Trek and the concept of working from home was a farce. If you were sick, you sat at home and watched reruns on the television.

Compare that work environment with today where we are connected 24/7, the concept of not being able to reach someone is absurd, and the ability to work from home is assumed to be a given. The millennials now assume this is standard operating procedure for knowledge workers – they can’t believe the concept of not allowing it.

Of course, some jobs do require being “on-premise” such as grammar school teachers. It would be pretty tough to teach 4th graders about reading, writing and arithmetic over Skype.

But how productive are remote workers? Is this a glorified reason to have a “golf” day, or to catch up on errands? Or, can work really get done while working out of the office?

It turns out that this question has been asked by many. According to the Remote Collaborative Worker Survey, released Feb. 9, 2015, of those who work remotely at least a few times per month, 77 percent reported greater productivity while working offsite; 30 percent said they accomplished more in less time and 24 percent said they accomplished more in the same amount of time.

Other research appears to validate these claims … according to U.S. News & World Report, “Telecommuters log five to seven more hours per week than non-telecommuters, often working even when they’re sick or on vacation.”

We Don’t Live in a 9-5 World Anymore

One of the challenges to measuring remote worker or sales productivity is defining when the working day begins and ends. A popular trend is the four-day work week, which can allow workers extra time to pursue leisure activities and family togetherness. Many people are now encouraging businesses to adopt this kind of work plan.

The challenging question is how do you measure productivity with these varying work schedules? How do you measure output? What is the divisor in the equation? Is it a full week, 4 days or per day?

Given the modified work schedules in force today, it is even harder to measure sales or worker output or productivity. The only viable approach is to measure at a more granular level, which can then be used to compare true productivity across various schedules and work weeks. With an answer to “What was my Prodoscore today?” future performance improvement can be better attained. Note it doesn’t really matter if you worked 1 or 5 days, or were at the beach on Friday – your Prodoscore can be used to compare performance no matter what. Once a consistent measure has been identified, then a baseline can be identified for future performance improvement.

The lines are blurred when one is “working” or not. Add to this the potential for remote working, and it soon becomes clear that measuring the modern worker’s performance is difficult at best, or virtually impossible at worst, when seeking to get an accurate figure. The best strategy is to automate the collection of a daily score, which can then see a productivity calculation, as well as how to see the best options for future performance improvement. These calculations can then reveal what has actually been accomplished – regardless of where or when it was done – be it in the office or on the golf course.

 

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