Remote Work & Culture

Tested Results That Will Make You Consider Remote Work

You know the remote work stigma?

That it often breeds laziness and a lack of productivity? After all, there’s more time to watch TV, juggle kids, hang out in PJs, and run boatloads of errands.


So it’s obvious why you might feel reluctant to follow the trend of transitioning your team to working remotely.

However, Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economics professor, set out to gather unbiased results that combat common suspicions and paint a clearer picture of why your company should seriously consider remote work.

During his TED Talk appropriately titled “Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home,” Bloom shared more about the research he collected through his rigorous 9-month experiment. It stars 249 employees at Ctrip, a large travel agency in China that wanted to grow without increasing its office space.

And here’s what you need to know:

How did participants qualify for the work from home study?

Of the 500 employees who volunteered, 249 were accepted to participate in the work from home study given that they met the following qualifications:

  • Must have worked at Ctrip for more than six months
  • Need a private room at home to work from with decent broadband Internet

They were then randomly divided into two groups:

  1. Those with even-numbered birthdays telecommuted four days per week.
  2. Those with odd-numbered birthdays remained in the office as a control group.

Now, it was time to determine if Ctrip’s young employees could steer clear of common work-from-home distractions. You know, the ones managers often worry will present a problem for the company.

Could they, as Bloom eloquently stated, genuinely avoid “goofing off without in-person supervision?”

If you’re wondering the same, you’re about to find out.

What were the results after the 9-month study was up?

Most attention-worthy is the fact that Ctrip experienced a 13% improvement in performance (worth about $375 per employee per year)!

And that’s not all. Check out these additional conclusions:

  • Ctrip saved about “$2,000 per year per employee” on office space.
  • Remote employees worked their full shift and were 9% more engaged than their in-office co-workers. (This was measured by the percentage of time each hour they were logged into the company’s call-tracking system and doing their jobs.)
  • Remote employees also “reported shorter breaks and fewer sick days and took less time off.
  • Attrition rates dropped by 50 percent.
  • The employees who worked from home “reported substantially higher work satisfaction and psychological attitude scores.”

So after reaping the benefits that come with a remote team, what did Ctrip decide to do? It offered almost all of its employees the choice as to whether or not they’d like to work from home or in the office.

Interestingly enough, half of the study participants who had been allowed to work from home decided to return to the office. The decision was influenced by feelings of isolation, the perception that a promotion or bonus would become more difficult to obtain, and current living situations (many reported living with their parents). The option to choose their work setting, however, almost doubled the gains in performance.

In the end, here’s the biggest takeaway:

Bloom ends his TED Talk by saying that there’s “not much to lose and there’s a lot more to gain” when transitioning your team to remote work. And we couldn’t agree more. If you’re ready to take advantage of these statistics, let Instant Teams create a remote team for you.

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