Productivity is Both the #2 Benefit and #2 Challenge of Working from Home. How is This Possible?

⋅ Categories: Workplace Insights

The biggest professional debate today is around how and where we work, but what’s often overlooked is that every one of us has unique experiences and expectations around the workplace.

A recent report by Steelcase gives unprecedented insights into the pandemic working experience with data from thousands of workers. The researchers have identified challenges and benefits both in the office and at home, and they explored how people experience the same working environments differently.

Recognizing the diversity of these experiences and providing equitable opportunities for hybrid working are critical to building an inclusive workplace spanning your both your in-person offices and remote work settings.

Benefits and Challenges of Remote Working

The top benefit and challenge of remote working should be no surprise. Most workers reported that no commute was the top benefit, while their biggest challenge was dealing with a sense of isolation.

But more interesting is what ranked second. Workers ranked productivity as both their #2 benefit of working from home as well as their #2 challenge. How can both be true?

Workers have a diverse range of working preferences and the work they do in different roles needs to be supported differently by their working environment.

A person who has to focus on solo work such as data entry or writing a blog will see their productivity devastated by office distractions, while a person in a collaborative role is likely to see a productivity drop in a more isolated remote work setting.

Complicating this is that a growing number of employees work on a variety of tasks today that require both focus and collaboration throughout the day.

Unequal Opportunities – And a Popular Misconception

Who should be able to work from home, and who benefits most from working in the office?

The vast majority of workers whose roles went remote for the pandemic are knowledge workers and leaders, while those in task-based roles such as member support staff found themselves staying in the office.

Accountability is often presented as the reason for this. Can the less senior workers be trusted to get their work done from home?

Yet it’s the task-based workers who have the most easily measured metrics and often perform solo work, while knowledge workers benefit most from closer collaboration and have more hazy metrics for success.

To build a truly equitable working environment as you bring workers back in the office and consider hybrid working opportunities, it’s critical to question biases in play and justify decisions around who can work from home a couple days a week and who can’t.

It’s also important to provide better options for working in the office. Choosing between private workspaces and an open office is a false dilemma, the best workplaces will offer a balance of both types of spaces to fit their needs. This is called Activity Based Working and breaks the mold of traditional workplace designs.

Doing the Research

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the physical workplace is an overlooked topic. But we’re working to change that. Momentum is sponsoring ongoing research with The Filene Research Institute to investigate DEI in the workplace and create a set of evidence-based and actionable guidelines covering policy and physical design that will help credit unions deliver truly inclusive designs.

Next month Filene is publishing a whitepaper titled “The New (Hybrid) Credit Union Workplace,” and authored by our own Mark Alguard. In advance of that whitepaper, he joined their Sr. Director of Research Dr. Taylor Nelms for a webinar on the topic. You can watch a recording of this webinar, “The Credit Union Workplace of the Future.”

Also check out this month’s big release of “Bridging the Spatial Divide,” an original Filene research paper authored by Dr. Bukky Akinsanmi Oyedeji, PhD of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin. In this paper, Dr. Oydeji takes a deep dive into the impact that workplaces have on diversity, equity, and inclusion and presents a set of evidence-based recommendations for credit unions to deliver more inclusive workplaces. Download it today on Filene’s website (open access, membership not required).

Ready to learn more? Reach out today!

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