Working from home is less productive.”  That’s the message from the leaders of Apple, Meta, Google, Twitter, and other large firms. They want employees back in their offices.

Is their message correct?

The answer is, yes, if you believe several studies of customer service/data center workers.  Separate studies conducted by researchers at Harvard, MIT, and the University of California, to name a few, show that workers in these industries were less productive when working from home.  From four to nineteen percent less productive.

Sounds convincing . . . but are call center and data entry workers good productivity barometers?  Employee turnover in call centers exceeded 80% last year!  The statistics for data entry workers are not much better.  Should one put much stock in studies of these (inherently) transient workers?

A more compelling study, one tracking 62,000 Microsoft employees, showed that collaboration suffered during remote work.  Feedback exchanged between work colleagues decreased markedly.  Seems alarming.  That is, if one assumes that most such interactions are productive. The CEOs of the aforementioned tech firms certainly think so.

Workers disagree.  The majority of workers surveyed say they are happier working from home.  Remote employees spend less time and money commuting.  They can better coordinate medical appointments and school pickups.  Workers are so much happier that, according to several studies, many are willing to accept pay cuts in return for the remote work option.

So, in many ways, the working from home debate boils down to this question:  Are happier workers more productive workers?  I don’t know. To find the answer I plan to meet with researchers who are studying the topic.

My dilemma is this:  Where should I meet them?  At their offices, or remotely via Zoom?

Seems relevant, no?

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.