Skip to main content

Remote workers ‘less productive’

Published on: 6 Sep 2023

Fully remote workers are at least 10% less productive, according to Stanford University.

Remote workers ‘less productive’

A study by the US university’s Institute for Economic Policy Research says working from home has risen five-fold, with 40% of US employees working remotely for at least one day a week.

US workers now fall into three broad categories, the study says. The largest group, at 60%, comprises mostly lower-paid employees in the frontline retail, transport, manufacturing, security, cleaning and food sectors. The second largest, at 30%, are hybrid employees – typically higher-paid graduates in managerial, business and professional services, working from home two or three days a week. A final group of 10% work fully remotely and are in support roles such as payroll, human resources, call centres and coding roles.

The research blames the 10% productivity gap among fully remote staff on factors such as communication challenges, barriers to mentoring, building culture and employee self-motivation. However, it adds that fully remote working can generate larger cost reductions in savings on office or building space, and in hiring nationally and internationally “at lower prevailing wages”.

Hybrid working has little impact on productivity but is popular with companies because it improves recruitment and retention, the study suggests. It predicts that organisations across the US and advanced economies will shift to a hybrid model, with managers and professionals living within commuting distance of the office.