Stanford study of chinese homeworkers

Much to do about the effectiveness of working at home: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer raised a lot of debate about the true effectiveness of working from home. Two weeks before the discussion on Yahoo home working rolled off, Nicholas Bloom and colleagues of Stanford University published the results of a study among 249 Chinese call center operators. The results show a productivity increase of at least 13% and an estimated save of $2000 per employee per year.

So what’s the score: does it work or doesn’t it? Little research has been done at the real (quantitative) benefits of working at home, most research deals with the perceived benefits or ordeals and eventual environmental benefits by reducing work related travelling.

There are very few papers on the actual quantitative benefits such as productivity and, indirectly, customer satisfaction. The Bloom research shows that it’s actually possible to be profitable and saving on employee housing costs. However, it’s relatively easy to measure productivity of call center agents while most home working people are knowledge workers who’se jobs are more difficult to measure.

More research is needed on the structure and automated level of knowledge working as to be able to measure productivity differences when working from home, the office or the coffee corner.