Home or Office: Where Is the Most Productive Work Done?

When it comes to a company’s success or failure, productivity can be one of the most critical factors. The term is often used in conjunction with efficiency, but there are subtle differences that are important to note. While the two are intertwined, efficiency is doing more or doing the same with less. Basically, it’s the measure of each employee’s work output. If you take efficiency one step further, workplace productivity is all about getting more done with the same resources.

While each organization may define productivity in the workplace differently, experts contend that there are two factors that go into employee success. One is productivity, the amount of work getting done. And the other is effectiveness, the amount of effort getting put into that work.  Maximizing both of those factors gets work done in a timely fashion and provides the greatest workplace productivity benefits.

Workplace productivity boosts efficiency. What that looks like will differ from company to company. How you define it should align with your business’s objectives and who needs to benefit from high productivity and efficiency. For example, in a sales organization, you might measure productivity based on sales and profits. In a different type of business, it might be more about the number of tasks getting completed and the number of goals being met.

Who benefits from a business increasing its efficiency? Arguably, everyone including:

  • Consumers: Companies that are highly productive are better able to meet consumer demand.
  • The organization: High productivity supports increased competitiveness, profitability, and growth.
  • Employees: A profitable, growing company offers more stability to its employees. Additionally, companies that support productivity have optimal working environments.

Where Is Workplace Productivity at Its Best: Office or Home?

Since the onset of the pandemic, there’s been a lot of scuttlebutt about workplace productivity and where it’s at its best. Some studies suggest that the “Great Remote Work Experiment” saw a marked uptick in productivity among those who shifted to working from home. Other studies support the ongoing need for the physical office. So, which one is best?

Traditional Office: Why the Office?

The office isn’t going anywhere, but it is evolving. And when it comes to productivity, there are some types of work best done in a traditional office setting.

A large-scale, peer-reviewed study of the effects of the work from home order that Microsoft gave their 61,100+ U.S. workers reveals that workers spent 25% less time collaborating with other groups. Teams became more siloed and communicated less frequently with other teams. And ultimately, there was less new information being shared across the company.

This underlines the importance of the traditional office for collaboration, project-based work, and connectivity between employees and teams. There are studies out there that demonstrate the power of casual conversation. Water cooler gatherings aren’t as much of a waste of time as you might think. Being able to spontaneously get together with coworkers for unplanned meetings supports productivity. Not only does it lower stress, but it also improves focus and engagement.

Maggie McDermott Fernandez, CORT National Strategic Account Manager can attest to the unique infusion that workers get when they can interact directly with their coworkers. She notes, “As somebody who thrives off of people and my surrounding environment, this has been an incredibly difficult last year and a half.”

“I get a certain energy from getting ready, driving to the office with my morning coffee, and interacting with my coworkers all day, she says.” “Just seeing other people working on projects and buzzing around the office makes me more productive. I love the time I save in DC traffic and have enjoyed the flexibility, but there is an upbeat dynamic that you can’t replicate at home.”

Home Office: Why at Home?

While it’s true that the traditional office has a role to play in workplace productivity, remote work does too. As Fernandez remembers from her time working from home, “Sometimes working from home can provide a quiet environment with fewer distractions that can be really great for heads-down work.”

Research supports that. A study of U.S. workers that ran from May 2020 through March 2021 tracked more than 30,000 employees. Data shows that approximately six out of 10 employees reported that they were more productive working remotely than they thought they’d be. Even more, 40% of employees said that their productivity increased when they shifted to working from home.

Focused, individual work seems to be the most ideal type of work for at-home workloads. But it isn’t without its drawbacks.

CORT Strategic Business Development Director, Beverly Steele was already accustomed to working from home. But she too learned an important lesson during the pandemic — one that every organization should consider as part of their plans for supporting productivity among employees who work from home.

“What I had not anticipated was how valuable human interaction was for me both personally and professionally,” she recalls. “I had been used to traveling to at least three to four company meetings a year, where I would interact with the C-Suite and other leaders of our company.  Not having this important time made me feel like I was not important, that I was, perhaps, being forgotten.”

“Building a culture of remote work that promotes productivity will be important,” she continues. “But it’s also important to build a culture that creates a sense of being part of the bigger picture that will be key in employee satisfaction and retention.”

How Can CORT Help Your Business Have Better Productivity in the Workplace?

The truth is, both work environments have the capability to support high productivity. But there’s a larger issue at play. By June 2021, only 28%  of office workers in the U.S. returned to the office. And one thing has become abundantly clear: Employees are demanding flexibility.

While navigating these uncertain times and our very real “now normal,” it’s more important than ever to engage with employees and ask them to consider where they do their best work. Avoid assuming that all work can be done most effectively at a specific location. Instead, focus on creating an office where teams want to be while supporting employees so they can be productive and effective no matter if they’re in the traditional office or a home environment.

To do that, it’s critical to embrace workplace flexibility. This is the strategy that lets you create an easier, more effective way for employees to work. And it’s where CORT shines. We deliver The Power of Furniture Flexibility™ to your workplace, giving you access to exactly what you need when you need it. CORT Furniture as a Service™ (FaaS) gives you options that adapt as quickly as you do, empowering you to design and redesign an office with productivity and your workers’ needs in mind.

Learn more about the maximum flexibility and low risk that CORT’s FaaS has to offer. Embracing access over ownership has unique advantages that suit today’s flexible workplace beautifully.