When considering the data on remote versus office work productivity, it is a real possibility that the office may indeed be dead.
When Covid-19 first hit, working from home was a necessary substitute for what was, at the time, expected to be a short-term problem. Fast-forward two years — a tectonic plate shift has transformed the geography of work.
What does working remotely mean?
Remote work has gifted professionals the flexibility to work from anywhere outside the office. All that is required is a laptop and a solid internet connection. A remote “office” can be a home, a coworking space, or even a coffee shop.
Remote workers use digital tools to do more than complete projects, but as the sole means for communicating with their teams. The rise of digital tools like email, smartphones, and Zoom over the last 30 years paired with the mass adoption of remote work following Covid-19 has made the remote model a logically sound means of working.
Does remote work improve productivity?
That said, remote work is a benefit that was earned, not seized, by workers through two years of increased productivity rates during Covid-19. Evidence has shown that remote workers, in fact, thrive at home in contrast to an office environment. A survey by FlexJobs of more than 2,100 people who worked remotely during the pandemic found that 51 percent report being more productive working from home.
This is a considerable number, and one that contributes to squashing the myth that employees will become lazy if they remain remote. Surprisingly, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study sponsored by virtual-first company Dropbox found that office environment distractions like face-to-face interruptions, ringing phones, and loud conversations were causing 28 percent of total working hours per person to be lost annually. Further research by Global Workplace Analytics, pointed out that:
- Remote American Express workers produced 43 percent more than their office-based counterparts.
- Businesses can lose anywhere up to USD 600 billion annually due to workplace distractions.
Can remote working replace the office?
So, what does this all mean for the future of office work? As companies can lose so much time and money from using an office-based model, remote work may be an opportunity to lower overhead costs.
Of course, the mammoth of these overhead costs is office space itself, including rent, electricity, heating, security, insurance, etc.
This begs the question: Are office spaces still worth these expenses if knowledge workers no longer want or need them? Airbnb is one of the many high-profile companies to switch to a remote-first policy. Their CEO Brian Chesky had an interesting take on the debate surrounding the future of office work, asking:
“If the office didn’t exist, I like to ask, would we invent it? And if we invented it, what would it be invented for? … I think that for somebody whose job is on a laptop, the question is, what is an office meant to do?”
Do employees want to go back to the office?
All in all, studies continuously show that the majority of workers prefer not to work from an office. For example, one recent Pew study showed that close to 60 percent of remote workers in the U.S. want to work from home.
Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work report further affirms the permanence of this growing preference, showing that 97 percent of workers say they would like to stay working remotely forever.
Corporate real estate companies are responding to this trend as well. For instance, 52 percent of corporate real estate companies reported that they’re decreasing their office property portfolios over the next three years. This shift comes alongside high office vacancy rates in major cities like San Francisco, which is currently seeing a vacancy rate of 21.7 percent. This number was just 5.7 percent pre-Covid-19.
How does one explain this rejection of office culture and preference for remote work?
Remote work allows for a better diet, more exercise, and a healthier lifestyle. Not commuting to the office means professionals can get extra sleep in the morning, save money, spend more time with their families, work out, eat healthy meals, and other key tasks that were once made difficult by the need to spend their time in the office. It’s as simple as that.
What makes a great remote team?
So, does your company want to switch from an office environment and build a happy and productive remote team? Or maybe you have adopted a remote work model and want to increase efficiency among your workforce. Our eBook, “The Complete Guide to Building a Remote Global Team,” is an excellent starting point for companies looking to make the switch to a remote-first model.
In our eBook, you will learn:
- The top five benefits of building a remote, global team.
- What to expect when handling the logistics of hiring and managing people around the world.
- Strategies for attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent.
Download “The Complete Guide to Building a Remote Global Team” today and bring flexibility and further productivity to your team.