Myths About Remote Work Are Being Debunked By An Expanding Body Of Research

( — Now that pandemic restrictions are mostly a thing of the past, many companies are trying to get their employees to abandon working from home and return to the office.

There have been concerns over the productivity and isolation of remote workers. However, a recent two-part meta-analysis led by Ravi Gajendran and his team suggests that working from home has beneficial effects on various critical employee outcomes. The meta-analysis included data from 108 studies, which involved 45,288 participants in total.

The most-cited advantage of remote work is improved work-life balance, and many studies have confirmed this. Contrary to concerns about reduced productivity, many studies suggest that remote workers are more productive, partially due to fewer sick days. Concerns that employees who are not on site may be invisible seem somewhat unfounded as well. The communication and support mechanisms that become necessary with remote workers can often paradoxically provide more positive outcomes, making workers feel supported and appreciated. Feeling more appreciated and having more flexible schedules can lead to better employee retention.

Even the meta-analysis, however, found one issue that consistently arises with remote work. Many people working from home experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. It is believed that this unfortunate side effect may be improving in a post-pandemic world where people can more freely go out and socialize outside the workplace. Another negative is that when at home, sometimes home life can interfere with work life and vice versa. This often depends on a variety of factors, such as their age or whether the worker has children in the home. Some studies find older remote workers have better boundary management tactics when working remotely.

The White House Office of Personnel Management’s annual report focused on the concrete advantages of remote work. Studies seem to indicate that working from home or using hybrid models may be a long-term way to fundamentally improve work environments, rather than just temporary emergency solutions. While there are still many downsides, the positive effects are becoming more and more apparent. In only a few short years, the understanding of the challenges presented by remote work has been better understood and mitigated. Some data suggests that 36.3 million Americans will be working from home within the next few years, so improving support and training for working in a home environment may become increasingly vital.

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