Remote Work

There is good news for those who enjoy working from home, findings from a Texas research team.

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The Texas A&M University School of Public Health new study found that employee and company resiliency may be enhanced.

Evaluating employee productivity during Hurricane Harvey

This is particularly true during natural disasters and other events that lead to workplace displacement. In particular, the study evaluated employee technology data before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey.

What the researchers found was that total computer use declined during the hurricane but returned swiftly to pre-hurricane levels seven months after the event.

“In the future, there will be a greater percentage of the workforce who is involved in some sort of office-style technology work activities,” said Marx Benden, who is director of the school’s Ergonomics Center.

Almost all of the study’s employees were right back up to the same level of output as they were doing before Hurricane Harvey. This is a huge message right now for employers because we’re having national debates about whether or not employees should be able to work remotely or in a hybrid schedule.”

Exploring workplace injuries

The study went beyond assessing productivity to examining the causes of workplace injuries. They found that it was important for employees to take regular breaks to avoid being hurt on the job.

“The research says that if you work a certain way at a certain pace over a certain duration, you’re more likely to become injured from that work,” Benden said. “But if you work a little less or a little less often or break up the duration or have certain other character traits — like posture — then you’re less likely to develop a problem from doing your office work.”

Benden went so far as to suggest that employers nudge employees to take regular breaks and recharge before finishing their work.

“The people who took the recommended breaks were more productive overall. They got more done,” he said. “We need to learn this about people, we need to teach people about it, and then we need to help people actually do it.”