Study finds people are significantly more productive when working remotely

If remote working is starting to feel like a drag, that’s because it likely is.

Microsoft recently launched a study published in the Harvard Business Review using internal data to look at the habits of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. As offices have shifted remotely, the tech giant focused on more than 350 of its employees during the pandemic who are working remotely using “Workplace Analytics” and anonymous surveys, which honed in on work-life balance by looking at usage through email, calendar, and other forms in the digital workplace.

The key takeaway from the study is something others feared; workers are putting in longer hours due to other circumstances in the work-from-home life. On average, workers added an additional four hours per week. The study said a possible reason for this revolves around other responsibilities at home.

Per the report:

“Employees said they were carving out pockets of personal time to care for children, grab some fresh air or exercise, and walk the dog. To accommodate these breaks, people were likely signing into work earlier and signing off later.”

Another key finding is how time spent in meetings increased compared to those in an office. Microsoft observed a weekly meeting time increase by 10% which is due in part of extra collaboration.

It’s also a product of having shorter meetings and opting against traditional office-setting meets that can extend longer. Microsoft said it had 22% more meetings of 30 minutes or less and 11% fewer meetings than ran more than an hour, the report noted.

Workers aren’t the only ones connected. Higher-ups like managers are using digital communication tools more than ever. The study found that managers sent 115% more direct messages in March, which is far more when compared to others who’ve noticed a 50% uptick.