Survey asks employers and employees to weigh in on remote workers’ performance and productivity.
When it comes to answering the question “Are remote workers actually working?” it’s easy to hear some skepticism behind the text. “Working from home” often comes with its own set of air quotes, like it’s code for “hanging out” or “watching Netflix.” But is that skepticism deserved? Or are remote workers getting a bad rap?
To get a clearer picture of remote workers and their habits, QuickBooks Time followed up a 2018 survey of remote employees with a 2019 survey of remote workers and their employers.1 In addition to asking how remote employees spend their time on the clock, we asked about productivity, performance, and perceptions.
‘Working from home’ might mean ‘walking the dog’
When asked if they’ve ever done outside-of-work tasks inside of work hours, remote workers answered honestly: Absolutely.
- Just 23% of respondents said they never spend their remote workday doing personal tasks.
- 64% said they sometimes take care of personal tasks during the workday.
- Another 13% said they always have something personal to get done while on the clock.
While they are working remotely, the majority of these employees are also taking care of a few personal errands, whether it be picking the kids up from school in the afternoon or taking the dog for a walk around midday. When asked how much time they spend on personal tasks, remote workers fessed up about that, too.
30% said they spend 30 minutes a day doing personal tasks during work, while 39% said they spend an hour or more on such personal errands.
But here’s the thing: Taking a little time to exercise Fido or enjoy a long lunch isn’t unexpected. In fact, employers of remote workers thought their remote employees were spending more time at home doing personal tasks.
70% of employers said they thought their remote workers were sometimes taking care of personal tasks while on the clock, and nearly 25% said they estimated that time to be about two hours a day.
So what’s going on here? If bosses know their remote employees aren’t always working, why not call back the troops? What’s keeping employers from demanding their remote workers stop wasting time?