Productivity challenges from working from home during this age of COVID-19

Employers and Management need to manage their productivity expectations during the working from home COVID-19 period. 

Nicolas Bloom, internationally renowned professor and economist, determined during his research trial that working from home increases performance by 13%, close to one extra day of output per week. However, these are neither “normal” times nor “normal” working from home conditions and managers need to recognise that when setting expectations and results during this age. 

WFH is today influenced by four factors that had no real bearing before the coronavirus crisis: 

  • Children
  • Space & Privacy
  • Choice 
  • Emotions 

Wearing More than One Hat ALL Day 

This is like wartime at home – parents are not just trying to focus on their work: They are now substitute teachers home schooling their children,  cleaners and cooks having to feed the whole family 3-4 times a day, with no help available that used to “buy them time” to focus on being productive at work.

Space & Privacy

Employees have gone from working out of their home – which they used to have all to themselves – for quietness and focus to now sharing their space with roommates, children learning from home and spouses or partners. This increase in number of people and constant activity means an increase in interruptions and noise level. 110% performance is just not realistic or to be expected at the moment with these added distractions. 


We must remember that with the #workfromhome imperative during this COVID-19 period, employees do not have a choice to work from the office a day or two a week in order to get their social company top up. Be particularly aware of your employees who live alone, and how this feeling of isolation and loneliness (depression cannot be too far off) could be impacting their personal and work lives. 


Managers know that their people drive results, however emotions drive people. Before criticising the level of output being achieved by individuals and teams, ask yourself “what emotions is my team feeling?” It is now more relevant than ever to exercise your empathy skills and try and see each one of your team members’ individual situation before comparing their performance to that before COVID-19.

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