Guest blog: How to improve productivity - let your staff work from home - By Andrew Boswell, who is a Programme Director with more than 40 years experience in IT and Telecoms.

Is your business delivering productivity of €50/hour? Are your people are wasting their time and energy by commuting to work? This article gives you the key numbers to assess your business and see how working from home could turn your business into a beacon of productivity.

Measures of productivity

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been studying international comparisons of productivity - as output per hour. In UK industry productivity was €43 per hour. Construction productivity was €24/hour. The highest-productivity industry was Finance and Insurance at €48/hour, and the lowest-productivity was the wholesale & retail trade at €23/hour.

The ONS has been studying the amount of time taken by people across the country to get to work . They found that back in 2007 it took us on average between 23 and 41 minutes to get to work. By 2017 this had fallen a little, to between 19 and 47 minutes.

If we add in the time to get home from work, we are looking at nearly two hours per day travel time. During that time, your people are committed to their work but usually they don’t or can’t do any. Two hours on top of a typical 8-hour work-day represents a 25% drag on productivity. You don’t pay for that two hours in wages, but you do pay for it in unproductive dead time at both end of your staff’s working day. They arrive home exhausted and slump in front of the TV.

Last year Gallup did a survey of changes in the American Workplace. They found that in 2012, 39% of American employees worked from home at least some of the time. By 2017 this had risen to 43%.

But Gallup also found that employees who work off-site are also spending more of their time working. So if you show commitment to your staff by allowing them to work from home, they will reach back out to you and spend more of their time working to deliver better results for you.

Improving productivity

Productivity is output divided by time. Are your people delivering €50 of output per hour? Are you? It isn’t easy to know this. Get your company’s finance team to work it out for you.

If you are lucky enough to work at home already - congratulations. If it’s saving you two hours per day of commute time, maybe you could give back an hour of extra effort every day. That would be a nice way of saying thank you to your boss, who has helped give you a better working life.

Many bosses are unwilling to allow working from home. It makes them think of breakfast in bed and daytime TV. They think productivity will fall. But if your staff can develop some good work habits, productivity will soar. Here is some guidance you can give them:

Good habits

We are all creatures of habit. Adopt habits that make you productive while you are working from home:

1. Get out of bed. Set the alarm for the same time you would have to get up if you were physically going to work. 

2. Get dressed, shower and have breakfast. Let your body know you are getting into the harness.

3. Turn off the TV and turn off your phone. Check for voicemails and emails only once an hour. 

4. Plan your day. Divide it into hours and allocate a task to each hour.  Devote the first hour to the most urgent work item on your to-do list. Give yourself a five-minute break at the end of each hour. Reward yourself with a non-alcoholic drink.

5. At the end of your working day, sign out of your work systems and put your work away for the day.

6. Go to bed at your regular bed time and have a good night’s sleep

Further reading

Does your to-do list make it easy to see your most urgent work items?  My Goal Action System might help you - all you need is a piece of paper and a pencil!

Good luck!


Andrew Boswell

Andrew Boswell is the author of TaskAngel To-do List. He blogs on productivity and time management at