Does working from home make you more productive? Yes (with data)!

Here’s a chart:

It doesn’t look like much, but 5 people logged an extra 75 hours in a month, with the vast majority of those extra hours being productive development or design hours (about 63 extra dev/design hours were logged in the working from home month).

How we FELT

Obviously, working from home isn’t just about the hours logged.  When talking to the team, feelings on the experiment were pretty mixed:

  • Most people felt like we weren’t working as hard from home and it felt like a better work/life balance.  Turns out we were working a fair bit harder, but the time reclaimed made it feel more relaxing.
  • The team felt a bit less energized…  The synergy that you get when people are bouncing around ideas is pretty cool– we had a bit less of that (though we had wednesday lunches that helped a bit here).
  • People worked odd hours.  Working from the office forces you into the 8-6 mode and makes it awkward to tune out in the afternoon if your heart just isn’t in it.  Conversely, when you put in your 9+ hours at work, you’re a lot less inclined to work in the evening (even if you were spinning your wheels all day).  I think it’s better to work when you feel like it than to force an artificial schedule.
  • People were lonely, but dealt with it.  We all joked how excited we were to see our wives when they got home.  I personally made a much greater effort to be social with friends.  This was a lot better than the “I just want to get home and veg out” instinct that I tend to have after a long day at work.

As someone who has worked mostly from a home office for the last couple of years, this post provided the data behind much of my experience.

The toughest part about working out of your house is maintaining a work-life balance. I’d say that is hard enough in today’s always-on world. Then imagine your office being steps away from where you eat, sleep, and relax.

I’ll likely revisit this topic in the future because I think there are a number of ways (some of which are mentioned above) to better create that balance and be able to turn off work even when still in the office.