April 2, 2013
A new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Guanghua Management School at Beijing University looking into the experience of working from home at one large Chinese firm has found that the practice led to a 13 per cent increase in productivity. The research also found that workers reported increased levels of job satisfaction and half elected to continue working from home when the choice was given to them at the end of the study period even though it was evident that their chances of promotion on the basis of performance had reduced as a result of the experiment.
The experiment involved a sample of workers from a call centre belonging to a NASDAQ listed travel agency called CTrip who were assigned to take part at random. Of the performance gains, researchers attributed 9 per cent to an ability to put more time into work because staff had fewer breaks and sick days with the remaining 4 per cent attributed to fewer distractions and a quieter working environment.
While the researchers highlight the contrast between these results and the growing cynicism in the West about flexible working practices where the practice is far more widespread, they also mitigate the results with an acknowledgement that call centre work is well suited to working from home and performance can be measured and managed easily. The experiment has now been rolled out across the CTrip workforce because of its success.
A copy of the report is available to download here.