THE 21ST CENTURY WORK FORCE
The modern work environment has added some new language in the last few decades. Most of the this lingo refers to the explosion of information technology in the modern era. However one new phrase that isn’t IT related is ‘working from home’.
Still not well accepted in a handful of very conservative fields, working from home (WFH) is growing in popularity with both employees and employers. Modern business is mobile and outcome focused. So much so that researchers are now starting to closely examine the impact of this 21st century work phenomenon.
In a 2014 study out of Stanford University in the United States, Nicholas Bloom and associates analysed data collected from a Working From Home (WFH) trial involving 249 call centre employees in a large travel agency.
The study found an overall 13% increase in performance in those who worked from home. Performance was measured in key performance indicator outcomes such as fewer sick days, larger volume of calls logged (40 more phone calls answered per person per week in the WFH study group), and more efficient call timing per call.
Interestingly, the WFH study group worked 9.2% more minutes per day despite having the same shift hours as the office based control group. This was directly attributed to the WFH study group taking shorter breaks than the office based control group.
Staff in the WFH study group were asked why they thought their performance had increased. They reported a quieter working environment to better concentrate and hear customers more clearly on the phone. They also reported convenient access to lunch, coffee and tea partly explaining the shorter breaks. Also, WFH study employees felt more positive about the company and hence more motivated. And they reported they can still work at home when they don’t feel well enough to work in the office, which explains lower sick days in the study group.
The study also identified a greater work satisfaction measured by psychological attitude scores. This positive attitude partly attributed to the lower attrition rates recorded in the WFH study group compared to their office based counterparts, recorded as a 50% decrease with an attrition rate of 17% in the WFH study group compared to 35% for the office based controls.
But working from home is not without its challenges.
Interestingly, 23% of people in the WFH study group reported that they