Around the world, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a shift in the global workforce, forcing many companies to make an unprecedented move to remote work.
Since remote work has become possible, there has been debate over whether or not remote work allows employees to be more productive or not.
The shift to remote work, which began in China on January 23 when the country first implemented its lockdown in Wuhan, which was extended to the rest of the Hubei province the following week.
In Europe, the lockdown began in Italy on March 9, with much of the continent following from then until March 15. When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, North America began to see a shift to remote work.
In the US, California was the first state to announce a stay-at-home order on March 16, with many states following suit in the days and weeks after that.
Is remote work making us more productive?
A new analysis of data, done by Aternity, a digital experience management company, set out to see if employees have become more productive through its Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker. The company determines overall productivity by measuring hours of work computing time.
The data, aggregated from millions of employee devices from over 500 Global 2000 companies, reveals that the United States has become less productive due to remote work because of the pandemic.
At the end of March, 77% of work has been moved to be performed remotely in North America, the largest amount of any continent.
Overall productivity in North America actually increased 23% after the shift to remote work, but the analysis found that this was largely due to Canada.
The United States actually saw a 7.2% decrease in productivity since in-office work declined.
While productivity declines, another study done by NordVPN has found that the length of the average workday has actually increased by almost 40% in the US. This means that Americans are working an extra three hours per day, adding up to 11-hour days, but are being less productive despite the added hours.
Europe saw greater decreases in productivity
On a whole, Europe has seen an 8.2% decrease in productivity since shifting to remote work.
The overall productivity decline in Europe was driven by sharp drops in Italy, the Netherlands, France, Denmark and Germany in particular.
Countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden all saw large increases in productivity, which partially offset the overall number for Europe.
If you are part of the 77% of Americans that has moved to remote work and are having trouble staying productive while working from home, follow these tips to increase your own productivity.
- Don’t screw up your sleep schedule just because you don’t have to commute.
- Make sure your cohabitants know you are on the clock.
- Dedicate a specific space in your home to doing work.
- Schedule in breaks and make the most of them.
- Stick to your normal routine as close as possible.
- Exercise in the morning to activate “focus chemicals.”