Shed the Guilt: New Study Reveals Remote Workers Are Top Performers
“It must be nice working in front of the TV all day.”
“I couldn’t do what you do. I need absolute focus to get anything done.”
“Right—I forgot you were ‘working from home.’”
As anyone who’s ever worked for themselves or been a remote employee knows, it’s not always easy to go against the grain. There’s a stigma attached to those who choose not to check into the ol’ cubicle—a consensus that anyone who works from home or on the go is just goofing off on the company’s dime. It’s a rumor that’s tough to combat and a frustrating reality for anyone who’s had to defend their work ethic or professional contribution to skeptical friends or family.
And while no one should ever feel like they have to defend themselves, especially for behavior as innocuous as working remotely, it is nice to have data on your side. Next time someone brings up your work situation with a tone that says “I work harder than you because I have a morning commute,” you can share this article with #MYOBB (Mind Your Own Business’s Business).
Stop Feeling Bad About Running Errands
Hey you with the guilty conscience: Running to the post office in the middle of the afternoon doesn’t make you a slacker. If anything, it makes you a multi-tasker.
TSheets by QuickBooks recently surveyed remote workers and employers of remote workers about their habits, performance, and perceptions. 77% of remote workers revealed that they “sometimes” or “often” take care of personal tasks during the workday—something their bosses already know. In fact, 78% of bosses said their remote employees likely “sometimes” or “often” perform personal tasks while working.
Yet 95% of bosses also said they’d rate their remote employees’ performance as “average” or “above average,” with the vast majority of these being “above average.” It seems that at the end of the day, multi-tasking and being a good worker aren’t mutually exclusive.
Don’t Let Assumptions Determine Your Workplace
If you’ve ever felt bad about working in front of the TV, it’s time to put those feelings aside. True, some people work best in a home office, closed off from noisy kids or whiny pets. But some people work best within the chaos of a subway station, and the majority fall somewhere in between.
Among those remote workers who said their boss had rated their performance as at or above average, nearly 1 in 3 work from a home office. But the majority works somewhere else. Some from the living room, some from a local coffee shop, others from a coworking space such as you’ll find on Croissant.
Sixty-two percent of these individuals said they’d rate themselves as “highly productive,” proving it’s the person (not the place) who matters most for getting work done. That judgy friend or dismissive relative is probably right — they couldn’t do what you do. But that’s no shortcoming of yours.
Trust Your Instincts to Improve Your Work
You don’t need outside sources to tell you where there’s room to grow. Trust your judgment, and make good on those instincts.
Even though 62% of remote workers felt they were highly productive, 32% said they could still improve their productivity by adding more structure or routine to the workday. Managers echo that sentiment in their survey responses, even though 51% also felt their remote workers could be trusted to work independently, perhaps without a structure or schedule set from the top down.
If you feel like there’s room to grow, embrace the opportunity to change. You’ve got the flexibility to work where (and maybe even when) you’re most productive. Take advantage of it. Build a routine that works for you, and hold yourself accountable for upholding that new plan. Remember that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. If you can keep up the routine for that long, you’re likely over the hump. If not, don’t give up! It’s the perfect time to go back to the drawing board.
“Working remotely” isn’t code for “working less” or “performing poorly.” It’s simply working, with less priority placed on the “where” than the “what.” You can be a top producer and a top performer without being in the office all day, every day. And to everyone who thinks your contribution is less worthy because you’re non-traditional, it’s ok to say mind your own business’s business.
Danielle Higley is a copywriter for TSheets by QuickBooks, a time tracking and scheduling solution. She has a BA in English literature and has spent her career writing and editing marketing materials for small businesses. She recently started an editorial consulting company.