Telecommuting Isn't as Great as You Think

Workers in study were more productive, but they missed their colleagues
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2015 2:40 PM CDT
Telecommuting Isn't as Great as You Think
This way of working doesn't work for all people.   (Shutterstock)

Cogs in the wheel toiling away in an office have probably dreamed of working from home in pajamas. But a new study out of Stanford University suggests telecommuting may not be all it's cracked up to be, leading Business Insider to assert that "traditional workspaces will never disappear." The study followed 249 call-center workers for a Chinese travel agency in a nine-month experiment, with half working full time in the office and the other half working remotely four days a week, and afifth day in the office. Home workers' productivity rose 13% during the study, and Ctrip decided to offer telecommuting as an option. Interestingly, half of those who worked remotely chose to go back to the office—some because they hadn't produced well at home, but others because they simply missed interacting with colleagues.

A 2012 Census Bureau report shows telecommuting numbers skyrocketed between 1980 and 2010; Global Workplace Analytics notes telework grew 80% from 2005 to 2012. But GWA also points out just 2.6% of the US workforce was made up of remote workers as of 2013. Half of Ctrip's remote workers said they wanted to go back to the office due to lack of social interaction, as well as distractions like TV. A similar scenario played out at NYC's Timehop last winter when the CEO closed the offices for two weeks and made all employees work remotely, as per Forbes. Although workers were better able to concentrate, they also felt lonely and had a hard time toeing the work-life line. "Since I'm already home, I can't justify getting up from my laptop and relaxing. ... I'm working from home, so when I'm home, I should be working," one worker said. (Here's another person who says no to telecommuting.)

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