Employees who are able to work from home are more productive than their office-bound colleagues because they are less distracted, grateful for the flexibility and the time they save on commuting is ploughed back into work.
These findings, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, endorse a general move towards more flexible working practices in the UK, although the private sector is lagging behind in this respect.
Dr Alexandra Beauregard from LSE’s Department of Management says working from home does not suit everyone, however.
“The happiest employees are those who can work partially from home and partially in the office. They report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction because they can juggle personal responsibilities yet are not socially isolated,” Dr Beauregard says.
The arrangement does not work as well with extroverts who are better suited to the social interaction an office usually provides.
Dr Beauregard says flexible working hours can make the most of people’s individual strengths.
“If people are night owls and their employer is happy for them to work at home from 10pm through to 5am, this can work to the company’s benefit. It just depends on the role and the level of personal interaction needed with their colleagues and the public.”
The other major benefit for employers is cost savings due to fewer overheads in the office environment.
There is also evidence that employers who offer flexible working arrangements are rated more highly by potential staff, Dr Beauregard adds.
“On a broader scale, flexible working hours have a positive spinoff for the environment and transport networks because there are less carbon emissions and fewer traffic snarls.”
Dr Beauregard says the next step is for workplaces to develop a tool to determine whether people are socially or psychologically suited to working from home.
Additional notes for editors
Dr Alexandra Beauregard can be contacted on (0)20 7955 7935 or email@example.com or call Candy Gibson, LSE Press Office, (0)20 7849 4624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details about her research can be found at: www.lse.ac.uk/management/people/abeauregard.aspx
3 October 2013