2014

Is Working From Home Really Just Watching TV in Sweats or Increased Productivity? American workers with mixed feelings on working from home

NEW YORK, March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The perception exists – those who "work from home" sit around in their pajamas, never shower and are really not as productive as those who make it into an office each and every day. Isn't this why Yahoo recently changed their policy to ban telecommuting and force everyone back into offices? But is this a fair criticism? With the various tools available for telecommuting, should it matter where someone works, as long as the work gets done? With nine in ten American workers agreeing that working from home provides flexibility (90%), how else do they feel about this issue?

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,219 adults surveyed online between February 28 and March 4, 2013 by Harris Interactive. Full findings and data tables available here.

Who works from home?
First, people are working from home. One-third of American workers who are not self-employed say they spend time during normal business hours working from home (34%). One in ten (9%) work primarily or exclusively from home, with another 8% who spend about half their time working from home. Just under one in five (17%) spend less than half their time working from home, while two-thirds (66%) do not work from home at all.

Younger workers, those 18-34, are more likely to work from home than those 35-44 (40% versus 27%), and over one-third of those workers aged 45-54 (35%) and 55 and older (37%) spend any time working from home. There is also a perception that these telecommuters are all moms. Yes, parents of a child under the age of 18 are more likely to work from home than those without kids (41% versus 31%) but men are more likely to work from home than women (37% versus 31%).

Attitudes on the policy of working from home
Among American workers, working from home creates some mixed feelings. On the one hand, over four in five workers (85%) say working from home enables employees to balance work and family needs, but almost the same number (84%) say working together in an office setting adds to team camaraderie.  Just over four in five workers also agree that some of the best ideas and/or decisions can result from impromptu, in person meetings and discussions (83%) and that working in an office setting improves communication/collaboration (81%).

Looking at the issue of productivity, most workers believe that it is not endangered by working from home; in fact, almost two-thirds of American workers (64%) agree that working from home increases productivity and work output, while one-third (35%) agree that working from home hurts speed and work quality.

The ability to telecommute is also something workers are now factoring into the job considerations. Over four in five (83%) agree that the option of working from him is a significant job perk, and three in five (61%) agree that the option to telecommute has or would have an impact on their decision to take or stay at a job.

Looking at some specific demographic groups:

  • Women are overall more likely than men to agree with positive statements about working from home:
    • Working from home provides flexibility (94%-87%)
    • Working from home enables employees to balance work and family needs (88%-83%)
    • The option of working from home is a significant job perk (86%-81%)
    • Working from home increases productivity and work output (68%-60%)
  • Workers with children under 18 (71%) are more likely than those without (56%) to agree that the option to telecommute has or would have an impact on their decision to take or stay at a job
  • U.S. workers who spend any time working from home are significantly more likely than those who do not to agree with positive statements about working from home:
    • Working from home enables employees to balance work and family needs (89%-83%)
    • The option to work from home is a significant job perk (88%-81%)
    • Working from home increases productivity and work output (76%-57%)
    • The option to telecommute has/would have an impact on my decision to take or stay at a job (76%-52%)
  • Men are significantly more likely than women to agree that working in an office setting improves communication/collaboration (83%-78%).
  • Somewhat surprisingly, it is the youngest workers who are most likely to agree that working from home hurts speed and work quality, with 18-34 year olds more likely than any other age group to agree with this (46% 18-34, 34% 35-44, 29% 45-54, 22% 55+).

So What?
A few bad apples can always ruin something for the rest. As more information came out on the Yahoo story, media reported that there was a specific reason behind the ban – in checking logs, people who were supposed to be working from home were not even logging into the company's network. Therefore, the ban was imposed. Regardless of the reasons, the public outing of the decision has definitely increased exposure to the pros and the cons of working from home. Almost no one can argue the flexibility it provides, but there is also the challenge of a decrease in face-to-face collaboration. These divides need to find a common ground, and better technology is surely going to be the way companies get there.

For more information, or to view the full findings and data tables, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 28 and March 4, 2013 among 2,219 adults (aged 18 and over) of whom 998 are workers who are not self-employed. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com  

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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