Work-from-homers outdo deskbound colleagues in major experiment

Do work-from-home (WFH) policies encourage employees to “shirk from home” or are they an essential way to make our modern work lives actually work?


To answer the question systematically and scientifically, we and two of our students ran an experiment with Ctrip, China’s largest travel agent. Ctrip wanted to test a WFH policy both to reduce office costs and to reduce the firm’s high annual rate of staff turnover (50%). Ctrip management was concerned, however, that allowing employees to work from home could have a negative impact on their performance, so they wanted to test the policy before rolling it out to the entire company.


Stegmeier Consulting’s Insight…

Rolling out a work from home policy – even a temporary, experimental one – can feel like a gigantic leap of faith for organizations.  In the case of the travel company Ctrip, their management is certainly glad they took the time and put in the effort to conduct this workplace study.

The methodology behind creating and comparing balanced test and control groups in this experiment seems sound.  To further emphasize the validity of the test, however, we at Stegmeier Consulting Group would have recommended testing the same employees over time at home and in the office.  When doing productivity studies (of teleworkers or of people in a new alternative work environment) you really need to see how the people affected improve or decline in effectiveness.  This removes varying employee attributes and competencies from the equation and avoids any distortions that may arise when working with two separate  groups of people!  Still, we applaud the study and believe it is a great point of reference for other organizations considering implementing a remote work policy.

Many of our clients have opted to do some workplace experimenting of their own by selecting a “pilot group” to test out a new office layout or a telework policy. Facilitating these pilot groups and helping organizations assess their change readiness is just a small sample of the services we offer at Stegmeier.

Stegmeier Consulting Group can assist with a wide range of challenges involved in implementing a workplace change initiative.  Contact us to find out how our services can help your organization.
Phone: 440-846-1410
Changing the way organizations manage workplace change