The way we work has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Remote work, once considered a luxury, has become increasingly prevalent, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies around the world are adopting distributed work models, allowing employees to work from anywhere, whether it be their homes, co-working spaces, or even coffee shops. In this article, we will delve into the findings of a comprehensive study conducted by Atlassian on the topic of remote work productivity.
The Atlassian Study: The Rise of Remote Work Productivity
In the wake of the global pandemic, the traditional office landscape has undergone a seismic shift. The rise of remote work has not only redefined where we work but also how we work. As businesses grapple with this new reality, understanding the dynamics of remote work productivity has never been more crucial.
In this article, we delve into the groundbreaking study by Atlassian, a leading provider of team collaboration and productivity software, which offers valuable insights into the world of distributed work. We’ll explore the key findings of the study, shedding light on the benefits, challenges, and future of remote work.
Additionally, we’ll incorporate data from other reputable sources, providing a comprehensive view of remote work productivity. From the impact on employee happiness and quality of life to the role of effective tools and norms in fostering a successful remote work environment, we’ll cover it all.
Here are the key findings from the Atlassian study:
- Well-executed distributed work leads to happier and more productive teams.
- Workers with location flexibility experience improved quality of life.
- Modern work takes place across a distributed network, regardless of a company’s definition.
- The problem with distributed work lies not in physical separation but in the lack of appropriate tools and norms.
- Return-to-office mandates are unpopular and ineffective.
- 71% of knowledge workers work away from an office at least once per week, yet only 51% say their company provides them with remote collaboration tools.
- Flexibility in work location leads to better quality of life, with 56% spending more time with friends and family, 49% spending more time on physical fitness or self-care, and 37% pursuing a new hobby or interest.
- Atlassian’s internal data shows no evidence of decreasing productivity with the implementation of “Team Anywhere”.
- Employees with work location flexibility have better outcomes related to innovation, wellbeing, burnout, and perceptions of organizational culture, leading to higher employee retention rates.
- Most companies are already working in a distributed way, so it’s time to get really good at it.
The Reality of Modern Work
In today’s corporate landscape, most companies are already engaging in distributed work, whether they realize it or not. With the advent of technology and the ease of communication, information is shared, and decisions are made across connected virtual networks. The physical location of where employees work has become less important than how they work and collaborate effectively.
Atlassian, a leading software company, has embraced distributed work as the norm. Their products enable teams across the globe to collaborate seamlessly without the need for physical proximity. They understand that success lies in how work gets done, not where it gets done.
The Benefits of Distributed Work
Well-executed distributed work offers numerous benefits for both employees and organizations. Atlassian’s study revealed that workers with location flexibility and no office mandate experience an improved quality of life. They can structure their days differently, allowing more time for personal pursuits, such as spending time with friends and family, focusing on physical and mental health, and caring for loved ones.
Atlassian itself is a testament to the advantages of distributed work. They have implemented a “Team Anywhere” program, providing their employees with the flexibility to work from any location. This approach has resulted in 92% of Atlassians reporting that the ability to work from anywhere allows them to do their best work.
In fact, other studies allude to similar benefits. For example, consider the following points:
- Virtual Meetings: In 2021, 70% of those who worked from home during the pandemic reported that virtual meetings are less stressful, and 64% now prefer hybrid meetings.
- Productivity Increase: On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive. A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over 9 months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%.
- Attrition Rates: In the same Stanford study, workers also reported improved work satisfaction, and attrition rates were cut by 50%.
- Productivity Boost: 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month show increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time.
- Exercise and Social Interaction: Those who work from home report exercising 30 minutes more during the workweek. Workers in a home environment report they are less distracted by co-workers, spending 30 minutes less talking about non-work topics, and spend 7% less time talking to management.
- Financial Benefits: Businesses can save up to $11,000 per employee every year by allowing them to work from home. Employees working from home reported saving up to $5,240 every year.
The Challenges of Distributed Work
While distributed work offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges. One of the main obstacles faced by companies is the lack of appropriate tools, norms, and ways of working in a distributed environment. Atlassian’s study found that only 51% of knowledge workers have access to remote collaboration tools, and 26% of those who do have access feel that they don’t have the right tools or adequate training to be effective.
Furthermore, some companies resort to enforcing in-office mandates to address perceived productivity issues. However, this approach fails to address the underlying problem and can create unnecessary pressure on employees. Effective distributed work requires a shift in mindset and the implementation of new ways of working that foster
Some important points to consider here are:
- Mental Health: Some companies are seeing employees struggle with the lack of social interaction. The mental health of employees will start to hinder productivity over time decreasing employee satisfaction.
- Lack of In-Person Interaction: The number one challenge for remote workers is communication. The lack of human interaction can make it difficult to build authentic relationships and effectively communicate.
- Solution: Foster a video-first culture. Video conferencing allows coworkers to communicate face-to-face, similar to in-person interactions, making it easier to read facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal cues.
- Lack of Trust: Some managers find it hard to trust remote members of their team, even though studies show remote workers are generally more productive than their office-based colleagues.
- Solution: Create clear guidelines and measurable goals. It’s important to have clearly defined guidelines for how all members of your team should work and to create measurable tasks with due dates for each member of your team.
- Distracting Environments for Remote Workers: Remote work environments can be filled with distractions, from housework to kids, pets, or even an enticing nap.
- Solution: Ensure accountability. Make sure each member of your team is accountable for their work and they clearly know when their individual tasks are due. Regular one-on-one check-ins with remote employees can also help gauge progress.
- Lack of Company Culture: Building and maintaining a unified company culture across geographically distributed teams can be challenging.
- Solution: Create opportunities for team building and bonding. Find ways for your team to connect face-to-face using video conferencing, host team bonding video calls, and partner new employees with other colleagues.
- Productivity Issues: Ensuring all employees finish their work on time, efficiently, and up to the company’s standards can be a major challenge in a distributed work environment.
- Solution: Develop processes. Implement a set of streamlined processes, use project management software, and have regular group check-ins and one-on-one video calls with direct reports.
- Cultural Differences: Managing a diverse global workforce with different cultures, work ethics, communication styles, values, and context can be difficult.
- Solution: Implement a cross-cultural training program. This can help people overcome cultural challenges, deal with stereotypes, and learn how to effectively communicate and listen better.
- Time Zone Mismatch: Scheduling team meetings or getting quick responses from remote coworkers can be difficult when employees span multiple time zones.
- Solution: Find overlap in everyone’s daytime work hours. Use tools to help choose meeting times that are during everyone’s typical daytime work hours. For teams with vastly different time zones, get creative, such as recording video conferencing meetings for those who couldn’t attend the live meeting.
The Power of Workplace Flexibility
The power of workplace flexibility cannot be understated. Atlassian’s study revealed that 71% of knowledge workers already work away from the office at least once a week. Among those surveyed, 56% reported spending more time with friends and family as a result of not being required to be in the office. Additionally, 49% focused more on physical fitness and self-care, while 37% pursued new hobbies or interests.
The study also highlighted generational differences in preferences for remote work. Half of Gen Z and nearly as many Millennials stated that they are happier working from home compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers. Flexibility in work location empowers employees to make positive life changes and leads to increased happiness and overall well-being.
The Role of Tools and Training in Distributed Work
To enable effective distributed work, companies must provide their employees with the right tools and adequate training. Remote collaboration tools are essential for seamless communication and collaboration across distributed teams. However, Atlassian’s study found that many companies are lacking in this area, with only 51% of knowledge workers having access to such tools.
Merely providing tools is not enough; companies must also ensure that employees have the necessary training to utilize these tools effectively. Without proper support and training, teams may struggle to unlock the full potential of the tools at their disposal.
Based on our study, these are most used tools by successful remote-only or hybrid companies worldwide:
- Whatfix: A digital adoption platform that provides in-app guidance and self-help FAQs, allowing users to learn while working on an application anywhere, anytime.
- TalentLMS: A corporate LMS platform that focuses on employee training and onboarding. It allows organizations to create interactive eLearning courses.
- LearnUpon: Provides a suite of tools to build, assign, monitor, and measure corporate employee training and learning programs in one centralized hub.
- Eduflow: Allows you to build workflows that guide employees through learning a new tool or concept. You can design your own course from scratch or use a pre-built template.
- Vyond: An online video training software, you can easily create animated videos without any coding or illustration experience.
- Lessonly: An employee training software that simplifies overall training creation, implementation, and management for organizations.
- Zoom: A video conferencing tool that allows up to 1,000 video participants and 10,000 viewers.
- Slack: A team messaging tool that allows employees to check in on the channels most relevant to their work and review past conversations at any time.
- Skype: A communication tool that ensures staying in touch with people all over the world for free via voice calls, video calls, text messages, and screen sharing.
- X.ai: A tool that eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating back-and-forth of finding a meeting time that works for everyone. Instead of proposing several meeting times, you can simply send a link to your x.ai calendar and let guests select from available slots.
- Krisp: A noise-canceling app that automatically mutes background noise while still allowing the user to speak.
- Donut: Facilitates casual conversations by randomly pairing up employees for virtual hangouts.
- Microsoft Teams: A hybrid communication and collaboration tool that integrates with Office 365, keeping files, meetings, conversations, and apps linked together in one program.
- Taskade: A tool that allows you to edit files and chat with collaborators in real time. You can also create meeting agendas and task lists and build scrum boards from scratch or based on Taskade’s templates.
- JIRA: A powerful, agile project management tool mostly used by product, tech, or engineering teams to work in a well-organized controlled manner and stay efficient.
- Asana: Helps create and organize tasks, divide the work amongst team members, set deadlines, get an overview of the ongoing work, and monitor progress.
- Microsoft OneDrive: A cloud storage service that lets users have all their files in one place – backed up and protected.
- Trello: An online board with cards optimized for organizing tasks and creating lists to assign and share with others.
- Basecamp: A collaboration tool designed to organize employees, delegate tasks, and monitor progress.
- BambooHR: An HR platform that manages processes such as hiring, onboarding, and employee records all in one place.
- Click Boarding: An onboarding and employee experience software that prepares remote workers for success with mobile-first, web-based and fully automated onboarding.
- Zenefits: An HR platform that manages processes such as hiring, onboarding, and employee records all in one place.
- Work Bright: An onboarding software that enables remote employees to fill out their W4s, upload photos of licenses and certifications, sign digitally and complete all the paperwork online.
- Blink: A comprehensive remote tool that empowers communication and enhances productivity for remote teams.
- Toggl: A tool that tracks what employees are working on and ties that labor back to specific projects, clients, and tasks.
- IDoneThis: A tool that allows every employee to provide status updates by adding tasks, commenting on their progress, and even tagging teammates for collaboration requests.
- Zonka Feedback: A popular feedback and survey app for remote teams. It helps you set up customized surveys (for customers and employees), distribute them remotely via multiple channels, and get real-time reports and analytics.
The Impact of Flexibility on Quality of Life
The impact of flexibility on quality of life cannot be overstated. Atlassian’s study revealed that workers without mandated in-office time experience significant improvements in various aspects of their lives. They have more time to spend with family and friends, focus on physical and mental health, pursue hobbies and interests, and even make major life changes such as moving cities, purchasing homes, and starting families.
The study also highlighted the happiness levels of different generations when working from home. Gen Z and Millennials were found to be the happiest, with 50% and 49% respectively reporting higher levels of happiness compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers. Flexibility in work location allows employees to prioritize their well-being and achieve a better work-life balance.
Productivity in a Distributed Work Environment
Contrary to common misconceptions, distributed work does not lead to decreased productivity. Atlassian’s internal data showed no evidence of decreasing productivity since the implementation of their “Team Anywhere” program. In fact, workdays were slightly longer than pre-pandemic, but this was due to the ability to spread out work hours to accommodate other priorities.
This suggests that employees are not necessarily working more or less, but rather, they have the flexibility to structure their workdays in a way that suits their individual needs. The key to maintaining productivity in a distributed work environment lies in empowering employees to manage their time effectively and providing them with the necessary tools and support.
Employee Retention and Flexibility
Work location flexibility has a significant impact on employee retention rates. Atlassian’s study found that employees who have the flexibility to work in the location of their choosing tend to have better outcomes related to innovation, well-being, burnout, and perceptions of organizational culture. Companies that offer flexibility in work location are more likely to retain their employees, as they feel empowered and satisfied with their work arrangements.
Flexibility in work location also fosters a positive organizational culture and improves employee sentiment. When employees have the option to work from home, they are more likely to make beneficial life changes and prioritize their well-being, which ultimately leads to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement.
The Future of Distributed Work
The future of work is undoubtedly distributed. Companies that fail to adapt to this new way of working risk falling behind. Embracing distributed work and implementing the necessary tools, norms, and ways of working is crucial for success in the modern corporate landscape.
The advantages of distributed work are clear: teams that produce higher quality work, answer harder questions, and move faster. Companies that prioritize flexibility and invest in the right tools and training will be at the forefront of this new era of work.
In conclusion, the Atlassian study on remote work productivity highlights the importance of embracing distributed work. Companies must shift their focus from where work gets done to how work gets done. Providing employees with the right tools, norms, and training is essential for effective distributed work.
Flexibility in work location leads to a better quality of life for employees, allowing them to prioritize personal pursuits and achieve a better work-life balance. Contrary to common misconceptions, distributed work does not lead to decreased productivity. In fact, when implemented well, distributed work can result in higher levels of innovation, well-being, and employee retention.
The future of work is here, and it is distributed. Companies that adapt and optimize their approach to distributed work will reap the rewards of a more productive, engaged, and satisfied workforce. It’s time to embrace the power of remote work and unleash its potential for organizations and individuals alike.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is remote work important?
A: Remote work is important as it eliminates the need to commute, provides more flexibility, and has been found to increase worker productivity.
Q: Are remote workers more productive than those working in an office?
A: Yes, remote workers are more productive than those working in an office, as found by the study.
Q: What factors contribute to remote worker productivity?
A: Factors contributing to remote worker productivity include the ability to work longer hours, flexibility, and the lack of distractions commonly found in traditional office settings.
Q: Is it true that remote employees work longer hours?
A: Yes, it has been found that remote employees work longer hours than in-office employees, according to the study.
Q: What did the study find about productivity paranoia?
A: The study found that productivity paranoia (the concern of appearing less productive) is common among remote employees.
Q: What is the prediction for remote work by 2022 and 2023?
A: Remote work is predicted to continue to grow, with an estimated 70% of people working remotely at least five days a month by 2022, and 55% of businesses offering remote or hybrid work options by 2023.
Q: What are some tips for staying productive while working remotely?
A: Tips for staying productive while working remotely include creating a designated workspace, setting a routine, taking breaks, and establishing open communication with managers and colleagues.
Q: Does the study suggest that remote work is better than working in an office?
A: The study suggests that remote and hybrid work options can result in higher productivity compared to working in an office,