Science Says Yes to Telecommuting: Five Reasons Why Working from Home Can Be More Productive

“I’ve had to be very upfront about the fact that good telecommuting jobs require hard work, like any job.” —Hannah Wright, founder of

I’ve heard some traditional office workers describe telecommuters as lazy, unprofessional, and unproductive: consider former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s controversial decision to ban telecommuting in February 2013. Millennials, who are better aware of the reality of pervasive Internet, high-tech options, and work-life balance, seem less bothered by telecommuting. Many actively encourage it.

Numerous surveys have shown that, in general, workers who telecommute at least a few days a week are more productive. A famous study conducted in 2013 by Nicholas Bloom and one of the owners of Ctrip, a Chinese travel company, demonstrated that the 16,000 employees who tried telecommuting were 13.5% more productive on average, and more likely to stay in their jobs than the control group. Numerous other studies have also demonstrated that part-time telecommuters are more engaged and productive than their office-bound compatriots.

There are many reasons why working from home can be more productive and fiscally beneficial, and some are so common-sense you may have a couple of “Duh” moments as you read them. So, without further ado, let’s quickly look at five.

  1. No commute. Here’s one of the face-palmers, because it’s so obvious. People who dislike the idea of telecommuting assume those who do it will sleep late because they can… and actually, they do. When your commute amounts to a few dozen steps, why should you get up two hours before you clock in? Fifteen minutes or half an hour, depending on your morning routine, will suffice.

  2. Less frustration. No morning commute through nasty traffic inevitably makes workers happier. Happiness jumps even higher when workers don’t have to deal with office politics and/or personality conflicts. Happier workers can be more productive in their jobs.

  3. Telecommuters work more, not less. The Bloom study revealed that about 4% of their teleworkers’ improved productivity was due to working in quieter environments, without the typical tumult of an office. But more than 9% of the increased productivity was because the teleworkers worked longer hours. With no commute, they were never late, sometimes started work early, and stayed longer than necessary—and still ended up with more time on the “life” side of the work/life balance. Nor did they have to take time off to attend family events or ferry the kids to the doctor.

  4. Telecommuters are more engaged. Their jobs require fewer sacrifices, cost them less in terms of time and money (mostly associated with professional clothing and automotive needs), and they can work at any time. In Bloom’s study, participants often worked even on days they logged in as sick. Basically, they were willing to own the job and invest more of their discretionary effort into the business, since they had more freedom and more free time than if they went in to work.

  5. It saves money. The company doesn’t always supply office equipment, since many telecommuters use their own. Nor do they take up office space, so the company can decrease office size and operating costs. Plus, higher productivity generally converts to better profits. Happier workers also require lower mental health expenses. Nicholas Bloom estimated a savings of $1,900 per employee over the nine months of his Ctrip study; multiply that by the 16,000 who participated, and it adds up to $30 million+. Finally, in some cases, employees who prefer to work at home will even take a pay cut, since they no longer must pay for gas every day. If an employee spends $40 for 20 gallons of gas per week, that’s $2,080 that comes straight out of their pocket annually. That’s not even counting auto maintenance, insurance, and Starbucks.


The list above includes just a few of the reasons telecommuting can be good for your team; you’ll discover plenty of others if you give it some thought. However—and this is important—working from home is NOT for everyone. Many of us like being part of a group, and prefer to interact face-to-face with our coworkers. Others have distracting homes, with kids, dogs, and spouses who think they can interrupt your work at any time. So, leaders, before you start shipping people home in bulk, ask them if they want to participate first. Some may reject the idea, some will want to telecommute only a day or two per week—and some will wholeheartedly embrace the initiative. Those who do, will save you money and may produce at higher rates than before.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland