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Why Remote Work Works: The Science Behind its Effectiveness

Remote work has been the talk of the town in recent years, particularly as technology has made it possible for more employees to work from anywhere. It is no longer surprising to hear that an organization is offering remote work or that a candidate that you have been interviewing is looking for a job with remote options. Remote work is no longer just a perk or an exception, but a norm in today’s working world. But why has remote work become so popular, and does it really work? In this article, we delve deeper into the science behind remote work and why it works.

The Science behind Remote Work

Improved Productivity

Research shows that remote work can increase productivity. A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that work from home employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than their office counterparts. The study also found that remote workers had fewer breaks, shorter sick leaves, and fewer distractions, leading to higher productivity levels. Remote workers are more comfortable in their own environment, which allows them to focus and concentrate without interruptions.

A study conducted by Stanford University in 2017 found that remote workers had a 13% performance boost, with fewer distractions leading to a higher volume of completed work. Additionally, remote workers often spend less time on water cooler conversations, office politics, and other non-work-related activities, enabling them to engage in work duties more promptly.

Reduced Commuting Stress

Commute stress can have significant adverse effects on an employee’s health, including an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Remote workers have the benefit of saving themselves from the adverse effects of commuting. They do not have to experience the traffic snarls, rush hour, and lengthy commutes that come with office jobs. This allows them to start the day feeling relaxed, focused, and energized.

Studies have shown that the stress caused by commuting can lead to lower job satisfaction, increased burnout, and difficulty in managing work-life balance. Without this stress, remote workers can achieve a better work-life balance, with lesser chances of burnout and improved overall emotional well-being.

Increased Work-Life Balance

Remote work offers the opportunity for a better work-life balance. People who work remotely have more time to prioritize self-care and personal commitments, leading to decreased stress levels and improved overall well-being. Remote workers can spend more time with their loved ones, pursue hobbies, and engage in personal development activities. The flexibility that remote work offers is invaluable when it comes to finding a work-life balance that works for you.

A study conducted by FlexJobs found that remote workers are more satisfied with their work-life balance, with more than 73% reporting better work-life balance since working remotely. Further, remote workers can take care of personal commitments with greater ease, leading to higher job satisfaction and performance.

More Time for Focused Work

In a traditional office setting, employees are often bombarded with meetings, impromptu hallway conversations, and other distractions that hinder focused work. The distractions are a significant driver of productivity loss. On the other hand, remote work allows you to focus and concentrate better without interruptions, leading to better outcomes.

The ability to self-manage, combined with fewer distractions, leads to an increase in deep, focused work. Remote workers can avoid being pulled into unnecessary meetings, and better manage their time, thus leading to greater productivity. The flexibility provided by remote work also allows workers to work during their natural productive periods, leading to better outcomes.

Cost Savings

Working remotely can save money – both for the employee and the employer. Savings can come in the form of reduced commuting costs, less office expenses, and fewer energy bills. Remote work may also reduce turnover rates as employees are less likely to be dissatisfied with a company if it offers them remote options. This is good for the employer since high turnover rates can be costly.

The cost savings from remote work are significant. Employers can save on office space, utilities, and other office expenses. Employees can save on commuting costs, parking, and other associated costs of working in an office. These savings translate to increased profitability, better working conditions, and an improved sense of financial security for both employees and employers.

Increased Autonomy

Remote work allows employees to take charge of their productivity and work in a way that best suits them. Remote employees learn to manage their time better, set their own goals, and take ownership of their work. This autonomy can lead to higher job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement levels among remote team members.

The flexibility of remote work allows employees to work when and where they are most productive, leading to an increased sense of autonomy. Additionally, remote workers can work in environments that are more comfortable and conducive to their work, leading to greater satisfaction and motivation.

Improved Diversity and Inclusivity

Remote work expands the pool of available job candidates to include individuals from different parts of the world, different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. This can bring in varied skill sets, perspectives, and experiences that can enhance the diversity and inclusivity of a team.

Remote work can reduce bias and increase diversity in the hiring process. By expanding the candidate pool, remote work allows companies to find the best talent for a given role, regardless of geographical location. Additionally, remote workers have greater flexibility in managing their schedules, making it easier for individuals with diverse backgrounds to enter and remain in the workforce.

Improved Communication

Remote work requires intentional communication, which often leads to higher quality conversations, ideation, and decision-making. Remote workers have to take charge of communicating with colleagues, resulting in clearer and more direct messaging. Additionally, remote work makes it easier for team members to work across different time zones, leading to round-the-clock work productivity.

Remote work places a premium on effective communication, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making. With the use of technology such as video conferencing and messaging apps, remote teams can communicate and collaborate effectively, regardless of where they are located.

Famous examples of Successful Remote Work


Zapier is a software company that helps connect different web applications. Founded in 2011, Zapier has been operating as an entirely remotely distributed team from day one. The team is made up of over 300 employees scattered around the world. Zapier has proudly managed to deliver an exceptional product with an excellent user experience, primarily from remote work. In 2020, Zapier was valued at $5 billion.

The success of Zapier shows that remote teams can work effectively and deliver quality products, even in highly competitive industries.


Automattic is the company behind WordPress, one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms. The company has over 1,200 employees in more than 70 countries, all working remotely. The company is well-known for its culture of trust and autonomy, which has enabled it to deliver innovative solutions as a completely remote company.

Automattic’s success is a testament to how remote work can foster innovation, improve employee autonomy, and lead to quality products.


GitLab is a web-based git repository manager that provides continuous integration and deployment. The company has over 1,400 employees in more than 60 countries, and all of them work remotely. GitLab makes it work by ensuring adequate documentation, frequent communication that includes bi-weekly video presentations of company updates, and clear processes.

GitLab’s success is a reflection of how remote organizations can achieve high levels of collaboration, communication, and teamwork.


Remote work is here to stay. While it may not be suitable for every organization, numerous benefits come with embracing remote work. With advancements in technology, remote work allows employees to be more productive, reduce commuting stress, achieve better work-life balance, have more focused work, increase autonomy, save cost, improve diversity and inclusivity, among others. The success stories of GitLab, Automattic, Zapier, and others are proof that remote work works. Remote work requires intentional effort, but the potential benefits are significant. Investing in remote work could help organizations attract and retain top talent, reduce the cost of operations, and improve overall business outcomes.

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