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Study: Remote work doesn't negatively affect productivity

Written on May 19, 2022

Research from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health found that employee and company resiliency may be enhanced through the opportunity for employees to work remotely during natural disasters and other events that cause workplace displacement. 

The team worked with a large oil and gas company in Houston, Texas, to analyze ergonomic software data from 264 employees. During the study period, the company was forced to close its offices because of flooding from Hurricane Harvey, which required employees to work remotely for an extended period. 

The researchers looked at employee technology data before, during and after Hurricane Harvey. They found that although total computer use declined during the hurricane, employees' work behaviors during the seven-month period of working remotely returned to pre-hurricane levels. The researchers said this finding suggests that remote work does not negatively impact workplace productivity. 

The study, which was published in IOS Press in February, offers important insights into information workers who have become increasingly used to and interested in working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Texas A&M researchers believe this information can be used to promote healthy behaviors for employees, including those working remotely, and to inform corporate policies. They also will be looking at tracking the ergonomic environment in employees' home offices. The team believes that tracking this type of data can help companies address remote employee health issues, including stress, depression and substance abuse. 

Researchers noted that taking breaks does not hinder employees' quality of work. “The people who took the recommended breaks were more productive overall. They got more done," they noted. "We need to learn this about people, we need to teach people about it, and then we need to help people actually do it."