New Survey Discusses the Reality of Working from Home

Young man with glasses working on his notebook

Working from home isn’t what you think it’s like. | iStock.com/NakoPhotography

If you’re like most workers, you’ve thought about the possibility of working from home. But what is it really like to work remotely? Well, wonder no more. Porch conducted a survey of 1,000 employees about their work-from-home experience and what it means for different types of businesses.

The Cheat Sheet spoke with Chris Lewis, a project manager at Porch. Here’s a peek into our conversation.

The Cheat Sheet: What survey results surprised you most?

Chris Lewis: I was most surprised to find out that while an alarming number of work-from-home employees admitted to doing “extracurricular” activities while on the clock (like showering, running errands, and exercise), they were still more productive in an average work day than office-only workers. I was expecting that without personal distractions being as readily available, plus the accountability of having a boss or other co-workers being nearby, office-only employees would have been much less productive, but our data suggests work-from-home employees average almost a half hour more of productivity a day. Over the course of a year, (assuming some vacation time and holidays), that would equate to more than 100 hours of productive time gained by working from home.


CS: Why do some people feel work-from-home professionals are less driven or hardworking?

CL: For the majority of us that are office-only workers, I think it’s just hard for us to grasp what work-from-home employees are doing all day. Our data showed that work-from-home employees were more disconnected from their co-workers, and that lack of connection, combined with, perhaps, a tinge of jealousy, might cause some ill perceptions toward work-from-home employees.


CS: What advice would you give an office-only worker if he or she wants to switch to working from home?

CL: Of course, it depends on the type of job you do, company culture, and how mobile your role could be, but if it’s in the realm of possibilities, give yourself the best chance by working hard, making your value abundantly clear, and leaving no doubt in your employer’s mind that you’ll be responsible enough to make the switch. Employers and bosses could have been burned by remote workers in the past, and you want to make it crystal clear that you won’t do the same.


CS: How can office-only workers achieve more satisfaction when it comes to work-life balance?

CL: One area work from home employees said they missed most was a connection with co-workers and being around other people. While our study didn’t ask about these tips, I’ve found that making genuine connections with co-workers, creating positive relationships in the office, and bringing your own personality into work helps make working in an office considerably more fulfilling. I think when you are excited about coming into work every day, the work and life division blurs, and you won’t feel as protective of your personal time.


CS: What tips do you have for remote employees on how to make the home environment an effective and productive place to work?

CL: Personally, I need a dedicated space for my work that isn’t normally somewhere I spent my leisure time. The second I think “oh I’ll just work from the couch today” I’m no longer in “work” mode–I’m in “relax” mode, and it makes distractions much easier to succumb to.


CS: Anything to add?

CL: Workers should know their own limitations when it comes to their ability to work from home. If you think you’re responsible enough for it, and you think your company would allow it, it’s definitely worth asking. But in most cases, it’s always better to maintain your job security, and feeling uneasy about your job while working from home isn’t worth the convenience. So, know your limits, be honest with yourself about how productive you’ll be, and if you don’t think you’d have a problem, it rarely hurts to ask!

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