Working From Home Increases Productivity, Job Satisfaction

Is working from home good for business? A recent study has found that it is: productivity goes up, staff turn-over goes down, and job-satisfaction increases.

Is working from home good for business? It's a question many companies are asking as the need for a traditional workspace grows ever-more obsolete through technology. However, companies worry that employees will slack-off when they're out of sight of their manager. Nicholas Bloom and John Roberts from the Harvard Business Review oversaw an experiment that found evidence to the contrary--a work from home policy benefits business as well as employees, but for workers it can get lonely.


The research team tested the idea on a travel agency based in China called Ctrip. The company had considered rolling-out a work from home policy in order to reduce rent costs and staff turn-over (which stood at 50 percent). However, the company was worried that by doing so, productivity would be reduced. So, management decided to tested the policy before it was rolled out. The test group was comprised of 255 employees, who were split into two groups: Those with even-numbered birthdays were sent to work from home over the course of nine months while those with odd-numbered birthdays had to come into the office, acting as the experiment's control group.

Over the course of the trial period, Ctrips found that the home workers productivity increased by 13 percent. Those who worked from home took fewer breaks and sick days compared to their office-bound counterparts. The home workers also revealed in detailed surveys that they were able to get more done, because of their quieter working conditions--no co-workers dropping by for a quick chat about the weather. Also, the home workers displayed more satisfaction with their work and less exhaustion related to their day jobs compared to the office group. Staff turn-over fell amongst the home group by almost 50 percent, compared to those who were office-bound.

By the test's completion, Ctrips decided to roll-out a work from home option to its employees. However, this new policy brought nearly half of the home workers back to the office and three-quarters of the office workers decided to remain—declining the opportunity to work from home. It seems some of the employees missed the day-to-day interactions they would normally get from working in a collaborative space.

Bloom and Roberts advise that from this study a work from policy could benefit many companies that want to reduce turn-over rates, increase productivity, and reduce costs that come with maintaining a physical workspace.

“We think working from home can be a positive experience both for the company and its employees, as our research with Ctrip showed. More firms ought to try it. ...it is critical for retaining and motivating your key employees, and is an essential part of the 21st century office.”

Read more at the Harvard Business Review

Photo Credit: Johan Larsson/Flickr

Got a question for a real NASA astronomer? Ask it here!

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.

Surprising Science

Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!

And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"

All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!

Keep reading Show less

Cancer researcher says keto is not a fad diet

Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.

Photo: Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
  • The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
  • Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
Keep reading Show less

Take the Big Think survey for a chance to win :)

Calling all big thinkers!

  • Tell us a little bit about where you find Big Think's videos, articles, and podcasts.
  • Be entered for a chance to win 1 of 3 Amazon gift cards each worth $100.
  • All survey information is anonymous and will be used only for this survey.
Keep reading Show less