A drop in productivity is always a cause for alarm. But the challenge is identifying the source of the drop. A dip in productivity could mean any number of things. Perhaps it’s a change in the marketplace or customer expectations. Maybe it has to do with the tools and resources people are using or perhaps it’s a change in the way you operate.

A commonly cited reason our  HR recruiters hear a lot from companies is remote work is to blame for decreased productivity. But is this really the case? Or is it an easy argument to make, especially if a company wants employees to come back to the office full-time? Our HR recruiters explore this question in this blog.

HR recruiters is remote work really to blame for decreased productivity


Productivity is Down

According to data from the United States Bureau of Statistics, via  Forbes, labour productivity is down 2.7% in the first part of 2023, the most significant decline in 75 years. This is alarming for companies. Many are faced with a variety of economic issues, recruitment challenges, and more.

Why Remote Work Is Commonly Blamed For Decreased Productivity

Many point to remote work as a catalyst for the drop in productivity, especially those opposed to remote working conditions.

“Return-to-office proponents believe remote work has major drawbacks, such as the risk of distractions and isolation. This cohort feels that in-office interactions greatly benefit innovation and company culture,” says Jack Kelly in a recent  Forbes.com article.

However, other research points to other factors that are the culprit, primarily low engagement.  68% of workers in America are disengaged. Our recruiters expect similar numbers here in Canada. So, it may be more of a case that companies should focus on lower engagement levels to increase productivity.

Study Finds Remote Workers Are More Productive

Well before the pandemic, hybrid work arrangements, and a groundswell of employees having the desire to work from home, a study was conducted to find out if working from home was productive. According to a 2013  Stanford University study, working from home led to a 13% increase in productivity.

The experiment states:

“We report the results of a WFH experiment at CTrip, a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency. Call center employees who volunteered at WFH were randomly assigned to work from home or in the office for 9 months. Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment)”

They also found that employees were more satisfied with their job and the organization experienced less turnover.

While remote work is likely one of the many potential causes of a drop in productivity, it’s certainly not the only reason. If you’ve noticed a drop in productivity, our recruiters suggest you dig into the issue within your company. The reasons for a dip will vary from company to company.


More from our HR recruiters about the impact of remote work

Is Full-Time Remote Work a Thing of the Past?

Why Companies Like Tesla Would Rather Fire People Than Accommodate Remote Work

Will Remote Work Lead to “the Uberization of the Workforce”?


IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm supporting clients across Canada and internationally. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have specialist teams of recruiters in Executive Search / Board & C-Suite, Technology, Media, Digital & Marketing, Accounting & Finance, Financial Services & Insurance, Startup, Data Science, Consumer, eCommerce & Retail, HR, Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Engineering, Construction & Engineering, Legal & Professional Services, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, and Sales. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.


Cristiann Kannen

Cristiann is a Recruitment Consultant who recruits across a range of industries, including HR, Accounting, Manufacturing, Mining, and more. Having lived and worked in Northern Ontario for over 20 years, she has a strong network within the mining communities in Northern Ontario and Quebec. Cristiann has extensive private sector experience, having spent almost 20 years working in an HR capacity in several industries, supporting clients inter-provincially across Canada. She has an MBA with a specialization in HR and a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation, and she is well-versed in provincial legislation as well as the Canadian Labour Code.

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