5 Reasons You’re More Productive When You’re Not in the Office

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If you head to the coffee shop or opt to telecommute when you have big deadline coming up at work, you’re not alone. Three-quarters of people surveyed by FlexJobs said that they avoid the office when they need to do important work.

Of the 2,600 respondents, 50% said they tried to work from home when they needed to put in time on a major project, while 12% preferred to decamp to a coffee shop, library, or co-working space. Fourteen percent of people did say they liked to work at the office, but only during off hours, coming in early, staying late, or working weekends to avoid distractions. Just 25% said working in the office during normal business hours was their preferred choice.

It seems that the modern workplace, filled with chatty colleagues, beeping phones, and other distractions, just isn’t conducive to actually getting things done.

“The results of this survey unfortunately confirm that there is a serious problem with how our workplaces support — or more accurately, don’t support — an optimal environment for productivity, and this is a real loss in both opportunity and revenue for companies,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, in a statement.

With polls suggesting that workers who have the flexibility to telecommute are happier, healthier, and more productive, it’s a wonder that more companies don’t embrace remote working (especially since FlexJobs also found that 30% of workers indicate they’re willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the freedom to work in their PJs.) Currently, 37% of U.S. workers are at least occasional telecommuters, a Gallup poll found, though 79% say that they’d like to be able to work remotely at least sometimes, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

If you’re looking to make the case to your boss about why you should be allowed to work from home, consider sharing this list of the five reasons most people say they get more done when they aren’t stuck in a cubicle.

1. Fewer interruptions from co-workers

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Seventy-six percent of people surveyed by FlexJobs said that avoiding constant interruptions from co-workers made them more productive when they weren’t in the office. Whether it’s your boss who stops by to ask you a “a quick question” several times a day or the cubicle-mate who always wants to chat about last night’s game, getting work done when people don’t respect your space or time is a challenge. Studies have found that people who experience frequent face-to-face interruptions at work make more errors and experience more exhaustion than other employees, the Wall Street Journal reported.

2. Minimal distractions

Chatty coworkers aren’t the only thing that makes it hard to get stuff done at work. Other distractions, from the ringing of phones to unexpected meetings, can also kill productivity, said 74% of people surveyed by FlexJobs. These distractions come at a big cost to you and your company. Forty-five percent of hiring mangers surveyed by CareerBuilder said that office distractions caused employees to do poorer quality work, while 30% reported lower morale and 24% said people missed deadlines.

3. Less office drama and politics

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Some people may play the office politics game to get ahead, but when it comes to doing real work, most say that all that jockeying for position and influence gets in the way. Seventy-one percent of people reported that working from home allowed them to avoid getting caught up in office politics that made it difficult to do their jobs.

The urge to flee is understandable when you consider that many people work in environments where malicious gossip and backstabbing are rampant. A 2015 CareerBuilder poll found that 44% of people had witnessed a colleague tattle on a coworker, 30% had seen someone start a rumor about another employee, and 23% reported that someone they worked with had refused to share resources with another employee. When coworkers’ childish behavior makes it hard to focus on the task at hand, it’s no wonder that people want to retreat to a safer and quieter space.

4. No commute stress

Sixty-eight percent of people said not having to deal with the stress of a commute boosted their productivity when they were allowed to work remotely. Research backs up their claim that they can get more done when they don’t have to endure a long trek to the office. A survey of British workers found that people were less anxious and happier when they had shorter commutes. And it seems logical that people who are in a good mood and less stressed will be better workers than those who arrive at work already grumpy from having spent an hour sitting in traffic.

5. More comfortable work environment

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Sixty-five percent of people surveyed by FlexJobs said that having a more comfortable office environment made them more productive when they weren’t in the office. Comfort means different things to different people, but there’s little doubt that having more control over the little things – from room temperature to lighting to the music you play – makes you a happier worker bee. That, in turns, seems to translate into greater productivity, as various studies have found.

“An emerging suite of literature and research … clearly points to the power of choice and autonomy to drive not only employee happiness, but also motivation and performance,” wrote Diane Hoskins, the co-CEO of Gensler, a design and architecture firm, in the Harvard Business Review. “We found that knowledge workers whose companies allow them to help decide when, where, and how they work were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, performed better, and viewed their company as more innovative than competitors that didn’t offer such choices.”

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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