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Remote workers are more productive than in-office, says Harvard

Remote workers have been tossed in the waves over their productivity, even some being monitored in their homes, but Harvard has the answer.

Desk with laptop and phone representing remote work

Is remote work a viable replacement for work in office?

This is a relevant question in the workforce, sparked by the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Over the past few years, remote work has taken the term “popular” and ran with it. Many businesses, from small companies to large corporations, have hopped aboard the trend.

A lot of CEOs often express concern for the future of an dwindling in-office workforce that some believe is dwindling. There’s an idea swarming that ‘a remote worker is a lazy worker.’ I mean, sitting in the comfort of your home can’t possibly be an environment that promotes efficient work, right? 

Well, let’s take a look at an evaluation performed by Harvard. The study is based on the changes we’re seeing in the remote workforce and gives an unbiased review of what patterns are showing. They gathered their information from ten large global organizations and Zoom, Webex meetings, and Microsoft teams. Results were collected from a variety of fields. Their analysis unfolded three major changes: 

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  1. Remote meetings are more common/frequent 
  2. Remote meetings are more randomized 
  3. Remote meetings are smaller 

Compared to results found in 2020, there were 60% more remote gatherings per worker, which is an average of five to eight meetings for each employee. Meeting lengths have also decreased by about 25% since 2020, making the new average 33 minutes. The average number of people in the meetings has also dropped by half from findings in 2020. This data is based on the number of meetings being held in a one-on-one fashion. 42% of the recorded meetings were one-on-one. 

Something neat they were able to see was the number of meetings that were deemed as “spontaneous.” As of 2022, 66% of one-on-one meetings were not previously scheduled. 

In comparison to 2020’s data, a unique picture is painted. Workers in 2022 haven’t become lazier or less engaged – quite the opposite. The study also showed that remote work interactions are beginning to mirror in-person, one-on-one interactions. There are concerns that remote employees are missing out on important social events and interactions, but according to the data, they’re not missing out any more than they may have before. Of course, this is data from only one study, but it’s interesting, to say the least. Harvard is known for conducting studies all across the board, but you can find plenty more on remote and hybrid work if you’re curious.

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.

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