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Study: remote workers more productive than office staff

Many small businesses still have reservations about employing remote workers, but a new study may have some reconsidering as they build their teams.

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Surprising survey results

The general thought surrounding people who work at home is that while they say they’re working, they’re really just playing Angry Birds. To an extent, that’s understandable, after all, if you get the privilege to work at home, why strain yourself to crank out assignments when no one’s watching?

But in an investment firm comparison of who is more engaged, people who work in the office or people who work remotely, the results showed that team members who worked remotely were more involved and committed. How did that happen?

Scott Edinger of Edinger Consulting Group says the fact that remote workers are showing higher engagement levels than their in-office counterparts makes perfect sense. When employees are in close proximity to their boss and co-workers, they grow complacent. They get used to sending emails instead of walking down the hall, or even worse, swiveling around, to have a face-to-face conversation.  

This passive form of communicating happens because people who work together are used to talking all the time and don’t see a need to emphasize face to face meetings over firing off an email. They also don’t communicate as frequently because they assume that since they’re in the same building as a boss or coworker, they can have a discussion another time.

Remote workers’ efficiency

Conversely, when an employee is working remotely, they try harder to make a connection. In order for them to stay up-to-date on various projects and initiatives, remote workers make increased efforts to communicate as often as possible compared to someone in the office. Even if it’s taking the time for a quick debrief after a meeting, these updates keep remote workesr tethered to the happenings in the office.

Remote workers are also more efficient with their team members’ time. It’s difficult to find meeting time slots that work for everyone’s schedule, so when a boss sets up a meeting that includes remote workers, they work hard to get rid of any distractions and unnecessary conversation in order to focus on the work the team needs to complete. They will spend more time organizing and ensuring these meetings run smoothly because they know they have a limited number of chances to have fruitful, collaborative work sessions with the entire team.

The takeaway

While you would assume being in the office is the only way to ensure your employees aren’t goofing off, remote workers may be more engaged than the employees sitting just a few feet away from you. These workers are more likely to keep in touch in order to stay updated, and make sure they are providing as much value as possible while away from the office.

Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.

Business News

After losing 13 employees to drugs, this restaurant hires recovering addicts

(BUSINESS) After losing 13 people to addiction-related deaths, DV8 Kitchen is a restaurant and bakery staffed 100% by recovering substance users.

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Woman viewing DV8 landing page on laptop discussing their employment opportunity's for recovering addicts.

The United States has been fighting a drug epidemic for decades. According to the CDC, the number of drug overdoses has significantly increased since 1999. From 2018 to 2019, even though heroin-involved death rates decreased by 6%, opioid-involved deaths increased by 6%, and synthetic opioid-involved deaths increased by 15%. Although the government keeps throwing money toward drug addiction and recovery, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away. After losing 13 people to addiction-related deaths, a Lexington, Kentucky restaurant decided to focus on giving employees a second chance. DV8 Kitchen is a restaurant and bakery staffed 100% by recovering substance users.

Second chance employment

According to its website, “DV8 Kitchen was developed and operates as a second chance employment opportunity for people who are trying to redirect their lives.  People in the early stages of substance abuse recovery often find it difficult to find employers willing to take a chance on them.” It’s working. The company opened a second location to give more people a chance to thrive. Other restaurants and employers can learn from them through training and modeling. DV8 Kitchen isn’t just changing recovering substance users, but they’re changing the restaurant industry by teaching those working in it how to combat addiction.

How big is the problem?

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that 20.4 million people aged 12 and older experienced substance use disorders in 2019. Another 2.1 million people in the U.S. suffered from an opioid use disorder related to prescription opioids. Employment is an important part of recovery. Studies show that individuals who are employed are less likely to have parole violations and criminal activity. There are higher rates of abstinence from substance abuse when a person is employed. Recovering addicts often face many hurdles in finding employment, from criminal history to scheduling conflicts with treatment, and poor work history. Being employed significantly contributes to a positive quality of life and helps individuals transition from addiction treatment back into the community.

Help those in recovery

Rob Perez, one of the founders of DV8 Kitchen, a 501c3 organization, says, “if every American business decides to hire one person that only wanted a job, but really needed it, we could make a massive difference in this country.”

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Business News

How to work with someone who is always stressed (or is it you?)

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Working with, or around, people who seem to always be carrying stress can be detrimental to your health and theirs, here’s how to deal with them.

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My baseline level of anxiety is pretty high. I get stressed out if I forget to pack a fork in my lunch even though there are utensils at the office. If someone is mean to me, I get on edge. If I make a small mistake I’m probably going to carry it with me for a few hours.

Others may not exhibit stress unless they’re up against a tight deadline or coming from a difficult meeting, but it seems like they’re always inclined towards stress regardless of their schedules. While many people exhibit stress in understandable, fleeting situations, for some stress is a default setting. It can be difficult to work with someone who’s always stressed out.

When someone is perpetually stressed, it takes a toll on everyone else too. That energy can be toxic and leave you wondering if you should be helping or if your colleague is intentionally being a Debbie Downer.

For starters, don’t make a judgement call about your coworker. Everyone handles stress at different levels, and for some people that means not really handling stress at all.

You may be able to breeze through your day with minor frustrations while others are thrown off by the smallest thing.

Holly Weeks, author of Failure to Communicate, notes “Don’t think what can I do to change this person?” Instead, she suggests considering how to neutralizes the situation and move forward.

If you want to offer the most basic form of help, acknowledge what’s going on and offer a compliment. Even if it doesn’t seem like much is going on, simply letting your stressed colleague feel heard and appreciated can make an impact.

Author of How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb, explains stressed people are “feeling out of control, incompetent, and disrespected. A compliment is your easy way to help them get back to their better self.” Make sure you’re not enabling them by dragging out the situation, though.

Acknowledge, offer some praise, and try to move with the conversation.

Although it’s not necessarily in your job description to fix your coworkers problems, you can still offer support. You may not actually be able to do anything, but offering assistance gives the other person a chance to think through solutions.

Webb also suggests brainstorming way to “reduce their cognitive load,” to ease what’s making your coworker feel overwhelmed.

Some simple solutions include splitting requests into smaller steps, shortening emails, or dividing work into parts.

Ultimately the job needs to get done, but you can provide your coworker with more manageable means of accomplishing tasks by breaking things into chunks.

You can also check in on your coworker to find out if you should be concerned, or if their stress limited to the work environment. If their stress is beyond what you can reasonably handle with these de-escalation tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone about further steps to take.

Check out our mental health series for some more insight if you’re concerned your coworker’s problem may be more than regular stress.

Just like some people are easily stressed, some easily pick up on the negative feelings of others. Be aware of how your coworker’s stress is affecting you. If someone is truly draining you, try to get some distance.

While that may be difficult in a small office, Weeks recommends keeping in mind that out of all the “office characters…the stress case’s temperament [is] less of a problem” than others.

Ultimately, it’s not your responsibility to destress your coworker, but you can certainly make your work life a little easier if you take these steps to make for healthier, happier collaboration.

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Business News

$100m reimagined convenience store startup to open 25 stores in 2022

(BUSINESS) Foxtrot is looking to redefine the convenience store as we know it. This startup is looking to make it a whole new experience.

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Laptop with Foxtrot convenience store locations in Chicago.

Move over 7-11, there’s a new player in town! There’s always room for competition, even in the world of convenience stores. Yes, you read that right, Quick Trip has some serious competition from a newcomer, Foxtrot.

Foxtrot is a curated, modern convenience store offering a brisk 30-minute delivery and 5-minute pick-up. It was created by Mike LaVitola and Taylor Bloom in 2014. These stores will undoubtedly be popular in walkable areas, but also with their online ordering convenience. This modern version of a convenience store offers the combination of an upscale corner store with a digital-first e-commerce platform. Sounds pretty glorious, right?

However, the original convenience store is safe as long as people are traveling and need to stop for gas or a restroom break.  If you’re from Texas, then you know and love, Buc-ee’s, the Texas-born chain. Buc-ee’s have been creating their own in-store products garnering a cult following among their customers. Still, Buc-ee’s doesn’t have an online ordering or delivery option unless it’s offered through a third party.

Foxtrot has raised $160 million in Series C funding and they are expecting to open 25 locations in many cities in 2022. There are a few different levels of funding. If a company makes it to Series C funding, they are already successful and looking to expand or develop new products per Investopedia.

According to Retail Dive, “About half of the new stores will be in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, where all of the 16 stores Foxtrot currently operates are located, LaVitola said. The tech-focused retailer is also planning to begin operations in Boston and Austin, and intends to open four or five new stores in each of those cities during the next year and a half, he said.”

Foxtrot is testing out technology equipment that would allow customers to leave the store without stopping to checkout at the counter. They plan isn’t to go entirely self-service, but as the creator LaVitola stated, “the more hours we can allocate towards sampling and storytelling and interacting with customers and less [on] tasks that don’t add on to value, like checkout, that’s great.”

Foxtrot is redefining convenience by including carefully curated products. They aim to offer local popular products as well core pantry items. They aim to make the commonly unpleasant experience of convenience stores enjoyable. Let’s hope they succeed.

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