Number of the day: remote v. in-person employee performance

Nearly half of remote workers say their teams’ performance has improved over the past two years, according to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting. Comparatively, only 34% of in-person workers can say the same. Additionally, the data finds that over the past two years, 50% of remote workers say their personal performance has gotten better, along with 49% of hybrid workers. Forty-five percent of in-person workers said the same.

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What it means for HR leaders

The positive data on remote work comes as many employers are thinking about their return-to-office plans, including whether they will require workers to return to offices at all.

The conversation gained renewed attention after Elon Musk recently ordered his employees to return to the office full-time, asserting remote work is no longer acceptable. He told his employees at Tesla, as well as SpaceX, that they are required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week, and “if you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

Many industry insiders warn such ultimatums could have serious risks, arguing that employers shouldn’t eliminate remote options for workers because it’s largely working. That fact is supported by the Eagle Hill data, which finds that remote workers even believe they, and their teams, perform better when they don’t have to be in the office.

“Our research signals that innovative remote and hybrid approaches to work indeed are working,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Employees have been telling us for years that they want more flexibility and the ability to work remotely. The pandemic forced the issue for employers, and now a large share of remote and hybrid employees indicate that their performance has improved, more so than in-person workers.”

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To make remote work successful, company leaders should ensure they offer employees training and development, as well as clarity on expectations and goals, the Eagle Hill data found.

The challenge for employers and HR leaders going forward, Jezior says, will be to sustain the positives that have emerged during the pandemic “while finding new ways to manage employee performance as the future of work solidifies—be it working remotely or with a hybrid approach.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.