How Working From Home Can Actually Make You More Productive

As if I needed any more proof to support my love of working from home, Forbes contributor Larry Alton posted an article last week called “Are Remote Workers More Productive Than In-Office Workers?” exploring the productivity pros and cons of living a work-from-home life. Aside from the fact that Fifth Harmony released a bitchin’ song last year for WFH folks to sing (in private, probably, because I suspect the song is actually about sex and not working), working from home is a trend that has actually been on the rise for a while now, as noted in Alton’s article.

Although there’s a lot of speculation about whether or not it is as effective as working in-office, a lot of the conversation around it comes without evidence. However, Alton swept in on Forbes to tell us that, heck yes, it is effective, citing loads of studies where schedule flexibility and work-from-home opportunities sent employee productivity soaring. (You should check it out here.)

Of course, he did also mention the fact that yes, productivity will vary amongst remote workers for various reasons. Your location is obviously not the only important deciding factor in your productivity, and depending on your job, it might actually be way harder to work from home. Depending on the type of person you are, and whether or not you have the capacity to work surrounded by your home, family, and stuff, it might be near impossible for you to keep your productivity up while working from home. Your job also might simply be so collaborative in nature that you couldn’t possibly touch the productivity that you are capable of in-office. Alton lists six separate “problems” that might affect a person’s ability to be productive while working from home. So, yeah – it isn’t for everyone.

But it is definitely something to think about, and I can definitely speak to its effectiveness. Personally, I find remote working to be the best way for me to stay productive, and actively seek out opportunities that allow me to work from the comfort of wherever I damn well please.

In fact, as I write this, I am visiting my parents, sitting in the kitchen and listening to them talking to each other with music on in the background while simultaneously watching a video on YouTube. Tomorrow, I’ll likely find myself on the couch sipping coffee in my fluffy pink robe while I work on assignments with the TV on. There is sometimes a lot going on in my work-from-home life on a day-to-day basis, but I thrive in the comfort of my own home, in my own space, surrounded by my own things and free to make my own decisions about how I work.

I’m the type who is weirdly jolted by nothing but a change of scenery, and the act of simply being out of my house and in an office is sometimes enough to exhaust me to the point of genuinely lowering my productivity. As for the distractions that may surround me at home, I tend to find that I stir a lot more when working in dead silence, and find that one or two simple distractions – like the sound of voices in the next room, or a sitcom rerun on Netflix – helps me to stay focused and on-track. It also makes it all feel a lot less like work, which means I don’t burn out as quickly. I can easily write twice as long from the comfort of my couch as I’d be able to in an office, where I’d quickly find myself fidgeting in my chair and waiting to go home.

Although my work at the moment consists of writing and school assignments, I think my preference for remote working will hold true regardless of any job I may hold.

So, maybe it isn’t a total guarantee that your productivity will soar if you ask your boss to take a few days of work out of the office, but it might be worth a shot. You’ll never know how your productivity will be affected by working remotely, but if you’re lucky, Alton’s evidence will hold true, and you will find yourself happier and more productive in your work.

Worth a shot, right?

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

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  • LynnP2

    I work full time for an NGO that’s based in another city, and only physically go to the office about 4 times a year. I am one of only 2 employees (of 40) in the organization who works remotely, so it definitely comes with some challenges, but I think it has made me FAR more productive, especially given that I have a very writing-heavy job. My increased productivity has even translated into a promotion.

    I’ve found that it really helps that I have a routine that prepares me for the day, and a clear division between working hours and non-working hours. I’m a little baffled by the idea of watching TV while you work. That would be a productivity-killer for me, but I know everyone works differently!

  • Summer

    I’ve been working from home since October 2015 (after literal years of dreaming about doing so), and it is the best damn thing possible. I’ve never quite understood how anyone honestly believes that being in an assigned location for a specific number of hours each week guarantees those same number of hours in productivity. Humans are not machines. We cannot be 100% focused during 100% of our designated working hours, so even if we are chained to a desk with our bosses lurking somewhere within the same building, there’s still going to be fuckery. If we’re not aimlessly browsing the internet on our computers, we’ll scroll through our phones, or get up and go talk to our work buddies in another department, or slip out to grab a coffee and take a quick walk around the block—whatever the case may be, we’re not always working while we’re at work. Thus, the argument that some employers try to make about wanting to keep an eye on people is ridiculous. If someone is working from home, it’s going to become evident REAL QUICK if that person isn’t being adequately productive. Deadlines are either met or they aren’t. The quality of work is either there or it isn’t. And honestly, if someone is turning in quality work by the time it’s due, who gives a shit if they decide to clean their kitchen in the middle of the day or go grocery shopping after a conference call? Yes, everyone works differently and I imagine there are some folks who legit can’t hack it working remotely, but as it continues to be proven to excess that people are happier when they have less commute, more schedule flexibility, and feel trusted by their employers, I do hope that more companies consider letting people work from home.

    • LynnP2

      This, all of this. Meeting deadlines and doing quality work should be a lot more important than sitting at a desk for a prescribed number of hours every day.