Are people more productive at home or are they just working longer hours?

In lockdown and beyond managers will need to know how to spot burnout.

by Stephen Jones

The silver lining of the unscripted switch to large-scale remote work during the coronavirus pandemic was that it disproved the hypothesis that allowing people to be flexible with their time and work far from their boss's beady eye would come at the cost of productivity. 

A recent research paper published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development looked at lessons from flexible working and found, among other generally positive outcomes, that 71% of firms reported no loss of productivity during a year in lockdown - a third had even seen an increase.

But are people actually working just as well from home, or are they just working longer? Other reports suggest both may be true. Microsoft, as part of its 2021 Work Trends Index, surveyed 30,000 workers in 31 countries, as well as assessing millions of productivity signals from its 365 Platform and LinkedIn. Like the CIPD’s study, it found that workers generally wanted to have more flexible work options post pandemic and self-assessed productivity levels were higher.

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