This is the big question of the moment. Yes or no, does teleworking increase employee productivity? The debate is currently raging in France. It is a national peculiarity, as France seems to be holding back regarding this subject. The figures show it. According to a European study conducted in June and July, nearly 40% of all hours worked on the old continent were worked remotely. A figure that was only 27% during the first confinement in France and fell to 15% in early August. In addition, another sign of mistrust, a large number of companies have refused 100% teleworking, as required by the government at the end of October to fight the second wave of the epidemic. In short, in France, teleworking is struggling to make a breakthrough. Two explanations are generally put forward. Otro signo de desconfianza es que un gran número de empresas se han negado a teletrabajar al 100%, tal y como lo exigió el gobierno a finales de octubre para luchar contra la segunda ola de la epidemia. En resumen, al teletrabajo le cuesta implantarse en Francia. Se pueden encontrar dos explicaciones:
- Managers are said to be afraid of losing their teams.
- The beneficial effects of telework on productivity are far from being proven.
We will leave aside the first statement, whose possible confirmation is more a matter of sociology, to focus on the second. What do we know today about the effects of productivity on telework? Studies show a clear trend on the subject. And it is positive.
This is illustrated by a two-year study conducted by Nicolas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University, which involved 500 employees of a Chinese company divided into two groups, one continuing to work at the office, the other composed of volunteers doing their tasks at home. In total, the survey showed that the remote team demonstrated increased productivity equivalent to a full day's work.
In detail :
- Employees working from home found that it is less distracting and easier to concentrate when at home, resulting in an increase in the actual time spent working during the day.
- In addition, employee attrition decreased by 50% among teleworkers, they took shorter breaks and took less sick leave.
- Finally, the company saved nearly $2,000 per employee on rent by reducing the number of offices at headquarters.
The findings are clear and make a compelling case for teleworking.
The future is in the development of telework
The current doubts about the benefits of telework pointed out here and there (particularly in France) undoubtedly stem largely from the timing of the discussion. Is telework in confinement, imposed, improvised in the rush of the health crisis, with children present at home and demanding all the attention they need, really the telework of tomorrow? Because let's be clear: this way of work will inevitably be called upon to expand. Let's repeat: many studies have already reported the productivity gains it implies. The French government seems to be aware of this. On November 17 last, Prime Minister Jean Castex described telework as a construction site that must progress. And just yesterday (24/11), François Hommeril, president of the CFE-CGC union noted "the clear will of the government to continue to make massive use of it during the first quarter of 2021, or even the second".
If the political will is confirmed, next year we could see the real democratization of telework in France.
In the meantime, to finish on a practical note, here are our recommendations for increasing productivity, whether you work from your desk or remotely.
1/ When you work remotely
- Creating a routine
Thanks to remote work, you can manage your agenda more freely. However, creating a routine and sticking to it is one of the best ways to stay efficient. It is a way to stay focused during work by putting a real boundary between professional and personal life.
- Prioritizing work
Sort your tasks in order of importance and tackle the most urgent tasks first. This will allow you to postpone a minimum number of tasks to the next day and check the importance of the remaining tasks and upcoming appointments.
- Know how to get organized
Clarity is the mother of efficiency. So if the office is a jumble of files, reports and notes, it is essential to create order. At the end of each day, make your workspace an immaculate place where it will be good to get back to work the next day.
- Investing in comfortable equipment
Since your workstation is the place where you will have to both spend a lot of time and make that time count, it's worth investing in the right equipment. A comfortable ergonomic chair, for example, will allow you to focus on your work rather than your back pain.
2/ When working from the office
Conversely, feeling at home at the office can also help increase productivity. The employer will thus have every interest in :
- Maintain a comfortable temperature
According to several studies on thermal environmental conditions, temperature plays an important role in productivity. When a work environment is too hot or too cold, employees may have difficulty concentrating. In addition, temperatures that are too hot or too cold can lead to the development of certain illnesses.
- Incorporate as much natural lighting as possible
Numerous studies suggest that vitamin D prevents diseases ranging from cancer and depression to obesity. Install UV lighting or skylights in offices to not only provide your employees with an open, natural and airy office, but also to help keep them happy and healthy.
- Promote health and wellness
The health and well-being of employees plays an important role in increasing productivity in the workplace. The brain is like a muscle; the more it functions without adequate rest, the faster it can burn out. Promoting a healthy diet is also important for staying focused at work.
- Involving employees
When a workspace is too cold, too dark or too noisy, employees can be distracted. These factors are all common causes of stress that can have simple solutions. Managers should therefore not hesitate to ask their employees for their opinion and involve them in the optimal workspace layout.