Is Working From Home More Productive?

TCU’s career expert talks all things remote work.

Work from home woman having a video conference with his colleagues. Online people work together. Remote teamwork concept.


Is Working From Home More Productive?

TCU’s career expert talks all things remote work.

Early in the pandemic, working from home was done out of necessity — for those whose jobs allowed it. Two years in, according to the Pew Research Center, Americans are more likely to be working from home by choice: Among those who have the option to return to office life, 61 percent are choosing to stay at home.

Mike Caldwell, executive director of TCU’s Center for Career & Professional Development, offered some insights into the benefits and costs of the shift:

For employees, what are some of the pros and cons of working from home? Which boundaries need to be set?

Reduced commute time is a big factor. The ability to be flexible, to move from task to task.

The challenges are being able to manage distractions, being able to manage projects and deadlines. And then also finding work-life balance because you may find yourself working at 7, 8, 9 p.m. — you may be drawn into work because you never leave. I personally experienced that.

Treat work from home just like you treat your job — you’re going into work, you have that professionalism. Setting boundaries also can help you know that, OK, I’m shutting off the laptop. I’m no longer “at work” now.

From a manager’s perspective, what are some of the pros and cons of allowing employees to work from home? 

For some, it’s a retention strategy; you’re able to retain great talent. You may be able to be competitive if a candidate is reviewing two job offers. 

You’re not as limited in terms of geography. If you are able to have some flexibility, you may open up your prospective candidate pool to a much wider net of candidates who may be willing to make a longer commute if they’re not coming in five days a week. 

Mike Caldwell
Mike Caldwell is the executive director of TCU’s Center for Career & Professional Development. For more information about careers, visit

Challenges are making sure that your policies are equitable among team members because some people, depending on their role, may have to be physically present. So how can you manage their expectations? How can you make sure that you have a balanced, fair option for all of your employees?

Is working from home more productive? 

That depends on the employee. Some people can be very productive and maybe more productive remotely; some people may need that structure — that specific parameter of, “I’m in the office, now I’m working.”

The manager or the direct supervisor of the person has to make sure that there’s accountability. You don’t want someone just kind of floating out there without any support.

If you’re a new employee, you may feel kind of alone, or you may feel like you don’t have anyone to go to with a quick question, and that may be a challenge to productivity.

Understand things from your supervisor’s perspective, from your colleagues’ perspective. And just like in a salary negotiation, go in with as much data and as much detail as you can.

What advice do you have for negotiating for flexibility in a job you are already in?

Understand things from your supervisor’s perspective, from your colleagues’ perspective. And just like in a salary negotiation, go in with as much data and as much detail as you can. 

What would be a benefit of working remotely? What could some challenges be and your approach to addressing those challenges? Is it going to be one day a week, two days a week? How can you flexibly manage that?

When looking for a new job, is it a fair expectation to have the option to work from home?

What is the flex work policy? The remote work policy? Employers expect to be asked those questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them what the policy is, and what the future looks like for the organization — is the expectation that everyone’s going to be back in the office or is the expectation that there’s going to be a hybrid flexible schedule?

Are there any new skills needed to be effective working from home?

Managing up — reporting things to your supervisor, to your colleagues, keeping everyone above you and around you informed. You have to let others around you know what projects you’re working on, what accomplishments you have.

There’s also understanding what your supervisor’s expectations are, what your client or your colleagues’ expectations are, in terms of having your camera on in Zoom, or chatting during a meeting.

In the office, unscheduled conversations occur naturally; when home, they’re far less likely. How important are those unplanned chats?

They can be very important. You know, sometimes they can be kind of non-productive, but sometimes that’s what’s enjoyable about work.

For people who are new to the workplace, those can be great opportunities to ask those random questions that they might not schedule a Zoom meeting for. It’s much easier to ask someone about how the event was handled last year just in the random hallway conversation.

When you’re having those random hallway conversations, you meet people from other departments and from other areas; you can find out more about what they’re doing, what projects they’re working on, what goals they have.

Conversations form that human connection. We have to interact with others to be productive and to feel valued, and I think that there’s something missed when we don’t have at least some opportunity to do that.

Is the shift toward working from home here to stay? 

I think some version is, in some roles in some industries with some employers. There are just too many benefits.

We have employers who can recruit at TCU and they don’t have to drive or fly to Fort Worth. You see that in sales roles, you see that in a lot of technology roles; you can do something remotely at a much, much lower cost than bringing someone into an office.

I think where there is a business case for hybrid work and for remote work, those opportunities will continue.

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Editor’s Note: The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.