Debunking Productivity Myths about Remote Work

In recent news, Elon Musk sparked a social media uproar after a company-wide memo went out to Tesla employees stating that remote work would no longer be acceptable. Their offices would now be reopening for workers to return to in-person jobs, and those who wanted to remain remote would require approval. He followed with “anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla,” or in a later tweet said, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.” 

If you’re reading this and can relate to solely working remotely or hybrid, I’m sure this ignorance leaves you unsettled. Many people think this is his way of getting people to quit on their own without having to fire them due to the new policies. I can confidently say that I have a full staff of remote employees, and I couldn’t imagine treating them in this way.

Productivity & Retention

While there certainly are organizations that cannot function without in-person employment, an abundance of workloads have proven to be handled just as effectively in a virtual environment as they were in a physical office. This retention and productivity rely heavily on how these organizational leaders exhibited their leadership styles when transitioning remotely and the continuous nurturing of the culture they created for their team. 

10,000 employees surveyed by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago said they thought they were just as productive working from home compared to working in the office. In fact, 30% of those respondents told researchers they were more productive and engaged working from home. This same survey team calculated that commuting time was reduced by 62.4 million hours per day, with aggregate time savings of over 9 billion hours starting from the middle of March 2020 to the middle of September 2020. Crazy right?

Forbes also released last year that 97% of remote employees didn’t want to return to working in the office full time, and 61% stated they preferred being fully remote. For employees looking for new jobs or changing careers, having the option to work remotely became a top priority. The majority of professionals surveyed emphasized that remote work options were incredibly important. It wasn’t indicated whether they were looking for fully remote or partial, but one thing was clear – without this option, they’ll certainly be looking elsewhere. Mentioning remote work options in job postings and during interviews is critical to attracting top talent.  To add more proven numbers to the mix, on average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive. 

What’s Next? 

So not only has it been statistically proven that there are employees out there that thrive in a hybrid or remote work environment, but they also continue to be increasingly important pieces of the puzzle. Needless to say, we should all be watching for Elon’s next move centered on remote work practices and remain curious about the impacts of such extreme practices in our workplaces. If we want to slow the impacts of the Great Resignation at work, we need to be sure to be more flexible with how we see where the work needs to be done.