The frequency of working from home has been rising rapidly in the U.S. and Europe, but there is uncertainty and skepticism over the effectiveness of this, highlighted by phrases like “shirking from home”. We report the results of the first randomized experiment on working from home, run in a 16,000 employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese firm, CTrip. Employees who volunteered to work from home were randomized by even/odd birth-date into a treatment group who worked from home four days a week for nine months and a control group who were in the office all five days of the work week. We found a highly significant 13% increase in performance from home-working, of which 9% was from working more minutes of their shift period (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from higher performance per minute. We found no negative spillovers onto workers who stayed in the office. Home workers also reported substantially higher work satisfaction and psychological attitude scores, and their job attrition rates fell by over 50%. Further, when the experiment ended and workers were allowed to choose whether to work at home or in the office, selection effects almost doubled the gains in performance.And don't forget the benefits of less traffic.
A graph from the paper: