“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer


One of the industries that has undergone significant transformation in terms of work location is Information and Technology. Many companies quickly transformed from one or two offices to 2000-100,000 offices around the globe, all in a matter of few weeks.  All credit to the Covid pandemic despite being notorious. Even when the traditional office-centric work was prevailing, there were options for working from home nicknamed remote working. This was enabled for completing pending work or meeting tough deadlines and support. But post-COVID, WFH had taken a new perspective which is work-life balance. And that’s when the question around productivity comes into the picture.

Let’s try to decode how work modes affect productivity. The following sections will examine what productivity is and the factors affecting the same in the context of work mode followed by few advantages and challenges in each of these work models. We will also touch upon a real life story and understand if there are any other dimensions.

What is productivity?

Productivity is a measure of how efficiently a company converts inputs, such as labour and capital, into outputs — products and services. It’s calculated by dividing outputs by inputs. Generally, the lower spend per employee, and high returns would reflect higher productivity and higher employee efficiency.

Having said that there are several variables in here. Inputs, outputs, returns, spend. While mapping this to productivity of an employee in IT scenario inputs are the information provided to an employee to work on. Output is obviously the developed software. Spend, efficiency and returns are linked in a way such that efficiency is how defect free is the code, spend is on resources to complete the task and trainings employee must take up which would lead to work efficiency. If employee is not competent enough or doesn’t have the right tools to deliver, efficiency is going to be directly impacted.

Certain other factors that can affect productivity and has an impact on the mode of working are as follows. Lets also analyse each in different work modes.

Unnecessary meetings

While meetings are a key medium of communication. As the saying goes “Too much of anything is good for nothing”, too much of meetings too can slow down the work progress. While an employee is in office, the chances of getting pulled in to ad hoc meetings and peers or junior members requesting support cannot be avoided. While an employee is working from home, meetings will be planned and can better manage time spent on meetings. In this situation, productivity while WFH gets a minor edge over working from office.

As part of productivity management initiatives, employees are given training to manage time. One of the key learning imparted is, while setting up a meeting, agenda must be clear and only relevant people should be invited. Employees have the option to accept or deny the meeting based on the work schedule. WFH somehow makes it easier to practice.

Work place politics

Workplace politics is considered one of the ways that employees consider an easy way to climb the corporate ladder. Politics and rumour are considered the deadliest of productivity killing factors. Chances of employees getting to automatic stories mode too is dangerous.

Budding of such practices happens in office when there are opportunities to connect with managers and strengthen the personal bonding. Personal connects makes influencing someone easier and anyone can be targeted. Working from Home proves effective here too as creating such a bonding is not easy. But not that its impossible. Sharing personal info or rumours happen over tea and lunch connects, which will be rare in WFH scenario.

Motivating the team and maintaining transparency is the way to deal with this. But avenues influencing the situation can be avoided to a large extend in case of WFH mode.

Motivated team

Success definitely comes from team work. When employees work as a team and for one goal then any challenging tasks would be a cake walk. Employees to work as a team should be motivated enough. Corporates try several ways to keep the team motivated such as competitive salary packages, team building activities, vacation packages, anniversary gifts and so on.

Team building activities are a must to imbibe comradeship. And seeing everyone on person easily creates the base. Getting people out of their comfort of home will be tough when compared to getting an event setup while people work from office. Technology does support to mitigate this to an extend. However Work from office does have the advantage.

Feedback and acknowledgement

Evaluating ones performance time to time is essential to keep delivering the best. And feedback from managers and team are the best methods. Getting constructive feedback will help address the shortfalls in terms of skill development or expectation management. While this will seem to be unaffected by the mode of working but is influenced by the mode of feedback communication.

Getting updates on daily connects and evaluating a team member is tougher than evaluating one who works along side. While in office it becomes easier to understand the challenges and support team members for better productivity. And feedback if required can be given any point in time based on the impact it will make in employee and company’s growth. Getting constructive feedback requires a right atmosphere for the team member and manager, Face to face in a room sensing the body language and expression of team member while sharing the feed back can never match something that’s done online. Time before during and post feedback session are very crucial. Working from office helps manage this process effectively.

Managing distractions

Distractions can be in any setting. However it all depends on how effectively can be avoided. The type of distractions can be different in different work setting and so is managing them. When an employee follows a very organised and healthy working style it becomes easy to manage. Hence it all depends on an employee. We will touch upon how different would be to manage and difference in distractions.

We touched upon how adhoc meetings could distract and lead to decrease in productivity. This section is more about distractions that are personal. While in office you might need to support your friend who might be going through a tough time at office or home. Participating in a party thrown by a colleague to celebrate a personal success or it could also be a over shot chit chat while having tea. These distractions cannot be avoided in a work from office setup. However can be easily managed based on ones priority while working from home.

But while working from home its personal things that could distract such as power outage, attending to a guest, overseeing some repair works and so on. There could be two sides to this. While it’s a distraction while working from home, it could very well turn out to be absence at work to manage such exigencies. Work from home gives a opportunity to make up for the lost time by working extended hour however that might not be practical when its working from office mode.

Work From Office

Without any doubt anyone can say working from office will yield the best productivity. Everything out there is setup and designed to enable efficient working environment. All resources are available and supporting departments work round the clock to enable and ensure everything is available for one to complete the tasks. There are several trending office architectures fostering areas for open discussions, think tanks, state of art systems, well equipped and multi cuisine pantry and the list goes on and on. Its easy for an employee to keep work and life in balance. When in office wear the worker hat and once out of office, its family person’s hat. This helps in drawing line between official and personal responsibilities improving mental health and thereby productivity.

However for everything there are benefits and challenges. While decoding this style of working the major advantages are


Just shake hands and get into problem solving mode. Its just that easy. Employees can share thoughts in real time fostering spontaneous idea generation, problem-solving, and efficient decision-making.   Office environment would be designed to nurture this practice with open spaces, think tanks, ideation rooms etc which foster innovative thinking,


Opportunity to connect regularly with in person interactions, tea, lunch sessions contribute to a stronger sense of camaraderie and teamwork. This without any doubt is essential for completing any complex tasks. When someone understands you and your situation, managing tasks becomes easy with the team support. Team feeling thus demands physical presence and WFO would be ideal mode of working.


To grow both personally and professionally trainings play a big role. And its easy to attend class room trainings and keep focused.  Discussions and white boarding while attending classroom trainings help understand concepts better and senior members can guide juniors better.

While those were around the benefits of WFO, there are few challenges compared to WFH.


Based on the city you are, commute to office and back will be time consuming, strenuous, and expensive. Leave alone the parking issues. This could affect productivity since getting into office is tiring. Commute can be affected due to social and natural causes. A good amount of time gets lost on commute and some people might take risk by attending calls while driving. Which is very dangerous and that small amount of time that an employee might save never get equated to a quality time spent just focussing on the task that we need to complete.


If someone must baby sit or has some personal task to be completed the only option is to take a day off. Time spent on managing the situation could be better utilised. Meeting strict timelines too becomes a challenge due to work timings. This affects the most when its unplanned. An employee will be left with no options than to compromise on official responsibilities which impacts productivity.   

Work From Home

Technological advancements are disrupting the way people work not just in IT. Internet connectivity and bandwidth getting better every minute promises a well connected future. Every other tech company is investing in developing communication tools which help bridge the challenges in virtual world. Key players such as Microsoft and Google have come up with several tools enhancing virtual connect. With augmented and virtual reality enabled gadgets one can feel physically present in a meeting room.

WFH too can be viewed through different parameters impacting productivity to carve out advantages and challenges over WFO.


Productivity is all about completing work with quality and in short time frame. And every individual has their own individual performance peaks like some work best in early hours and some late. Working from home gives that flexibility to be ones best.

Global talents

Opting for work from home enables getting experts and best talents across the globe. Harnessing time zone differences companies can give their best support round the clock. Some people might be forced to work near their home to support their family. Such cases limit the options for employees and impacts carer growth. If properly managed, global timings can yield high amount of productivity.


Expenses for commute, business attire and accessories put on a check. Even for companies there will be cost savings in managing real estate, where by getting more revenue per employee. This could enable companies to offer competitive packages which could enhance productivity.

Challenges in WFH to an extend can be mitigated by use of right technology. Following are the categories that can be considered to put light on some of the productivity hindrances with WFH


Communication is a major challenge since adhoc meetings while in home will be difficult to manage. Connectivity could be impacted with the area in which employee is located. Even power outages can impact availability of appropriate resources to carry out the tasks. Planned outages can be managed to a better extend than the unplanned ones. Communication should also be viewed in the light of body language and facial expressions. While WFH discussing by seeing face is possible however it could be misleading.

Team ceremonies

Any activity that requires physical presence of individuals needs extensive planning and logistics management. Every member in a team can be in different corner of the world. All have to agree on a convenient date, time place and if there are people who has to travel long distances it will result in higher expense and extended stays.

Mental well being

Working in isolation works differently for different people. Some enjoy working in isolation and are productive that way. However there could be people who get lonely and leading to depression. There are ways to mitigate this by allocating time not just for daily stand up meetings but also for virtual tea time and fun time. There are certain groups and clubs like Ted talks, Toast masters, yoga etc who address such concerns very effectively.

WFH vs WFO in real life

Now that we have a fair idea on pros and cons of both approaches, lets see a real life example how each of the styles worked.

Traditionally when a projects kicks off representatives from each IT project function such as Business Analyst, Architects, Testers and Management will travel to customer location and conduct meetings. The understanding is then passed on to offshore team who would work as per the inputs from these people onsite.

This time it was a project from New Zealand and pandemic kept the borders closed. Management decided to go ahead with fully virtual implementation. Project progressed well with daily video conferencing, play back sessions and so on. Activities were completed on time and everyone felt this could have been tried earlier, which could have brought lot of savings on travel and related expenses.

On the other hand at almost same time there was another project in Korea. Management decided to get going with same strategy as in New Zealand project. This despite daily calls, didn’t work well due to language barrier. Both parties did their best by discussing everything in length. But outcome was failure. Company then decided to hold the project till borders were opened and a lean team was sent to customer location. The meetings that were redone just like day one of project. This time employees at customer location were in a better position to convey their thoughts. Body language, tone, expressions play a key role in having a fruitful discussion and positive outcome. This time project turned out well.

Something that worked well in one region didn’t work well in another. Hence WFO and WFH can be applied considering several factors. Lets checkout few factors that need to be considered on a productivity angle.

Experience Level

As discussed earlier, employees should be experienced and experts in their tasks. They should be able to proceed without or with very minimal support. They should be empowered to take decisions and work independently. Mentoring and training junior members has got the best outcome while in WFO setup.

Social Factors

Social factors such as geographical location, responsibilities both work related and on personal front. If employee has to baby sit or support someone ill at home, productivity does affect. Diversified teams should be considered since different time zones and cultures would impact how they interact.


Infrastructure both at home and office should cater to the demanding and stringent timeline and complex targets. If there are any issues appropriate departments should deal with it and address the concern in no time. Setting up and maintaining WFO is easier than WFH if there are complex systems involved. Corporates might need to spend and good amount of time and resources to identify the needs and address

Project Phase

Projects when getting started or in ideation phase may require teams to brainstorm. This however is best productive when done in WFO setup. It time lines are stringent to complete a project involving multiple teams then too its best done if its WFO.

Surveys and Research

A study by Standford on 16,000 workers over 9 months found that working from home increase productivity by 13%. This was attributed to fewer breaks and sick days. This study also found that work satisfaction increased and attrition rates were cut by 50%. There is also an interesting observation that if employee doesn’t enjoy their work, home distractions easily affects the employees.

Workers working from home spend 30 mins less talking on non work topics and 7% less talking to management, reports another survey by Stanford comparing pre and post covid work stats. New York time reported this increase in productivity will not persist. Employees struggle with lack of social interaction and the mental health of employees will start to hinder productivity over time decreasing employee satisfaction.


WFH and WFO has its own challenges and benefits. All depends on employee. If the team is experienced, dedicated and experts in their tasks then WFH proves to have better productivity since they can manage their work independently without any support or guidance. Where as WFO is better in case of employees who need guidance from seniors or project that are in initial stages and need brainstorming. The future of work in the IT sector is dynamic and multifaceted, shaped by technological advancements, changing work cultures, and evolving employee preferences. While productivity is of highest concern, its about how corporates align and adapt to such changes drive the success factor.

Striking a balance with all the factors impacting productivity might be a dream. But framing the right priorities will ensure employee productivity on check.

A German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said “Ordinary people think merely of spending time, great people think of using it.” Hence if we put the right amount of focus in using the time appropriately, productivity will automatically get improved.