Survey: 76 Percent of Workers Are More Productive Outside of the Office

Seventy-six percent of 2,600 people polled in a recent FlexJobs survey chose anywhere but the office during work hours as the ideal place to get “important work done.” According to the company’s 4th Annual Super Survey, which asked respondents to choose “their location of choice to be most productive on important work-related projects,” 50 percent chose their home, and 12 percent chose an alternate location such as a coffee shop, library, or co-working space.

outdoor office

(Photo: Liz Suman)

Fourteen percent of the remaining 38 percent opted for the office, but with the caveat that the work could take place outside of standard office hours. Only 24 percent of all respondents cited the actual office during actual office hours as the best time and place to get something important done.

Given that the office is obviously the place people are supposed to do their jobs, why do so many people feel the need to go elsewhere to do them? The primary reasons given by the FlexJobs respondents boil down to the quest for a distraction-free environment:

  • 76 percent said they had fewer interruptions from colleagues
  • 74 percent cited fewer distractions
  • 71 percent referred to minimal office politics
  • 68 percent enjoyed reduced stress from commuting
  • 65 percent said they had a more comfortable office environment at home

The perception of who works from home and what telecommuting looks like is often inaccurate, as The New York Times notes:

We all know what telecommuting is and who does it. It’s working from home (or maybe a Starbucks), and it’s usually done by someone in their 20s, or a mother with small children. Well, no. Actually, the typical telecommuter is a 49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees, according to numbers culled from the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.

FlexJobs data reinforce the census data and “telecommuter” characterization posited by the Times as part of a growing mainstream perception of flexible jobs and working from home as a legitimate and desirable choice. 

Thirty percent of the company’s 2015 survey respondents say they would accept a 10 to 20 percent decrease in compensation “in exchange for flexible work options,” up from 28 percent in 2013. Thirty-two percent cited health as “an important factor in wanting a job with work flexibility,” 97 percent think that it would improve their quality of life, and 87 percent believe it would decrease their stress. 

Both current and past respondents have consistently listed work-life balance, family, and the stress and time saved from commuting as the overall main appeals of a flexible work life.

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