The outcome is at odds with other studies on working from home, which show that people can concentrate better at home than at the office. According to Künn, Seel and colleagues, this depends on the type of work. So far, the effects of working from home have been poorly researched. What makes this study persuasive is that it compared the performance of the same individuals at home and on location. Other studies look at performance between groups of employees.
This research clearly shows that the effectiveness of working from home depends on many different factors. Consultant Barry Pietersen from Presearch – an agency that studies working conditions, employee engagement and job satisfaction – argues that not only the nature of the work plays a role, but also whether working from home is compulsory or voluntary and whether there is still room to come to the office, for example, once a week. The life stage of the employees and the period in which they work from home also seem to impact the outcome. Over time, familiarisation kicks in and productivity goes back to the old level.
Research into the effects of working from home provides a mixed picture. Call centre employees become 15 percent more productive if they are allowed to work from home. Their job satisfaction also increases. But the question is whether it will last. Pietersen: “IBM wanted to save costs in 2009 by having employees work from home, but they went back on it. Involvement and intimacy decreased in this case. Engagement mainly declined among staff who worked in teams.”