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Woman Perfectly Explains Why Working From Home Is More Productive Than Being In An Office, No Matter What CEOs Say

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woman working from home

It's a battle we've heard about constantly in the last few years — whether working from home or in-office is more productive for businesses.

For years, the data showed that the former was the better choice, but lately, the wisdom has shifted in the other direction, leading to many businesses demanding employees return to the office. 

A woman on TikTok laid out why for her, the answer is clear — and it turns out her perceptions match up with a lot of data on the subject. 

The woman perfectly explained why working from home is more productive than working in the office. 

For years, the prevailing data on the subject showed that working from home was the better choice. But more recent studies have begun to shift the conventional wisdom in the other direction, leading many businesses to demand that employees return to the office even as employees make it clear they have no desire to do so. 

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These in-office mandates don't appear to be working — a recent survey by FlexJobs found that more than half of respondents personally knew someone who had quit or was planning to quit their job because of a return-to-office rule.

TikTok creator @brandnamecereal recently provided some insight into why this has become such a bone of contention for so many employees. 

She says that the main difference is that in the office, she was forced to 'perform availability' while fielding constant interruptions.

"I just recall what it was like to sit at my desk all day versus sitting at my home desk all day," she said in her video, "and basically the only difference is when I was at work, I had to be performing availability full-time."



She says she gets the same amount of work done as she did when she still had to go to the office. What's changed is how she's using those little bits of time in between tasks. At the office, "you're on your phone, you're talking to your coworker," whereas at home, "I'm still logging the same amount of work ... but whenever I have five minutes, I'm not talking to my coworker, I go unload my dishwasher." 

She acknowledges that to a boss or executive, this use of company time for a personal endeavor would probably inspire outrage, but she contends it's all the same at the end of the day.

"Those five minutes that I was waiting for someone to email me back were going to be less productive anyway," she said.

Chatting with coworkers isn't productive either, after all. And not having to do chores like unloading the dishwasher after an hour-long commute makes her "more consistently productive" because of the energy it saves, and because "the people I don't want bothering me aren't bothering me...I respond to things in a timely manner."

This makes me think of my brother, who has been mandated to return to the office two days a week — days he says he spends attending the same Zoom meetings he does in his home office and fielding constant interruptions that result in him having to take work home to complete in the evenings instead of helping his wife with their kids.

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Recent data that suggests working from home actually has a decisively negative impact on productivity, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

So why such a huge discrepancy between workers' perceptions and the latest data on productivity? The study which has become most central to many companies' justifications for mandating a return to in-office work is one conducted by economists at MIT and UCLA which found working from home resulted in an 18% decline in productivity.

However, there are a few issues with this claim. For one, that study focuses exclusively on data-entry workers in India — hardly analogous to all types of work being down from home. The creative work I do as a writer and video maker, for example, is not cleanly measurable in the way typing a finite amount of data into a software system in a finite amount of time is. These are not apples-to-apples comparisons.

More importantly, Stanford University economics professor Nick Bloom, who has been leading studies on productivity for decades, says that the productivity declines shown in the recent data can be explained in part by management procedures that haven't yet adapted to the new way of doing things — a factor even the most anti-work-from-home studies also blame for more negative productivity reports. 

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And when it comes to the broader data on how work-from-home affects productivity and especially profitability, the numbers don't lie.

As Bloom has noted, overall US labor productivity growth, which held steady at 1.2% from 2015-2020, has increased to 1.5% since the pandemic began in 2020 — a development he calls nothing short of "miraculous" given the difficulty and upheaval we've endured since then, and especially given the fact that US productivity had been declining for decades prior.

And from a simple profit perspective — which is, of course, the point of most businesses — the claim that in-office work is more productive overall makes no sense whatsoever. Work-from-home schemes eliminate businesses' number one source of overhead costs — the real estate leases, utility bills, and equipment expenditures required to maintain an office in the first place. It's like claiming that getting rid of your rent or mortgage payments and all your utility bills wouldn't instantaneously leave exponentially more money in your pocket at the end of every month. It simply isn't true, and the suggestion is absurd.



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The more conspiracy-minded among us theorize that much of this push to go back to the office is mostly guided by corporations' heavy investments in commercial real estate, especially among the small handful of private equity mega corporations that essentially own every company and business in America and who hold inordinate lobbying sway over state and federal governments. Given how little sense the arguments against work-from-home schemes actually make — and the fact that even the likes of NASDAQ have acknowledged this is indeed a factor — those claims aren't exactly tinfoil hat territory. 

Especially since it's not just overhead costs that work-from-home saves on — multiple studies have also found that it substantially lowers turnover, makes recruiting easier and allows for global hiring, which results in substantial savings in employee retention, recruitment and wage costs.



So CEOs and other entities can demand a return to in-office work all they want, but it doesn't really hold up to scrutiny — and workers have decisively indicated they aren't willing to do it. And with a workforce as uniformly disgruntled as ours? Business leaders might want to give all this some thought.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.