By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, Corporate Trainer and Behavioral Scientist
Remote IT (information technology) jobs are increasingly becoming the norm. Working from home remotely has been rising for years, particularly as many IT jobs rely upon computers, telecommunications and reliable home internet connections.
But, like it or not, COVID-19 has hastened the acceptance and adoption of remote work for IT workers.
Remote IT Job Responsibilities
The University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute conducted a study of more than 10,000 employees during a period of 17 months. They found that employees had “significantly increased the average hours they worked when they worked remotely from home.” The researchers analyzed the key output, work hours, personnel records and workforce analytic systems and determined that many of increased hours were worked outside of normal 9:00am to 5:00pm office hours.
Even though there was a increase in the number of hours worked while the employees worked from home remotely, “there was a slight decline in output [productivity].” Therefore, the researcher conducted that “these results are consistent with employees becoming less productive during work from home and working longer hours to try to compensate.”
The participants of this large scale research project were determined to have a young Mean age, Mean tenure (about four years) and expected Male gender. The researchers theorized, “as in tech companies around the world, men are a significant majority.”
What are some of the remote IT job responsibilities tracked by analytics systems utilized by the human resources department to monitor employee productivity?
Productive Remote IT Job Responsibilities
- Programming and Coding
- Collaborating with colleagues
- Producing software documentation
- Communicating with supervisors, clients and technical experts
- Entering meetings into the Outlook calendar
- Networking (responding to emails, calendar appointments, amount of time spent in meetings)
- Participating in coaching meetings (number of meetings involving the employee, their manager, and all of the manager’s direct reports)
- Entering continuous mouse/keyboard input
- Generating work-related output
Nonproductive Remote IT Job Responsiblities
- Commuting to and from work/home
- Surfing the internet
- Posting to social media
- Tending to homebound children, spouse, and/or pets
- Watching videos
- Taking exceedingly long breaks outside of the corporate pre-established norm
Remote IT Job Responsiblities
Some of the key take-aways of the study were as follows.
- Remote IT employees working from home were slightly more productive than their less tenured colleagues. It is theorized by the researchers that high tenure employees continued to meet their goals while working from home because they were better “able to adapt more effectively to the work from home shock.” They were more familiar with company procedures and held more fully developed professional networks than their less tenured peers.”
- Remote IT worker productivity dropped when working at home which seemed to be counterintuitive. As commute costs decreased, so should time available for productive work. However, the researchers found that the increase in work from home hours was not “merely due to more available time. Rather, it supports the interpretation that productivity fell during work from home, and employees worked more to compensate.”
- Female remote IT workers were more adversely affected by the remote working arrangement, but the researchers determined it ‘”was not due to child care responsibilities.”
- Remote IT workers with more industry experience “worked roughly a quarter hour [15 minutes] more per day compared to less experienced employees, holding age and company tenure constant.” The researchers reasoned that “the increased costs relating to work from home, remote and hybrid employee arrangements were borne by these experienced employees, ‘who have to put in more time to coordinate their team.”
In closing, the researchers concluded that while Information Technology workers and IT job responsibilities are amenable to remote work, work from home and home-based work; significant cognitive and collaborative tasks are required for seamless implementation.
Gibbs, M., Mengel, F., and Siemroth, C. “Work from Home & Productivity: Evidence from Personnel & Analytics Data on IT Professionals,” Working Paper No. 2021-56, Becker Friedman Institute, University of Chicago, July 2021.
Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA http://www.ishareknowledge.com is a consultant and blogger at http://edfraud.net specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya at ishareknowledge dot com