A new study by the Department of Labor shows that office-based complainers cause a bigger drop in productivity than the overall work-from-home model. With several companies rethinking the work-from-home model, more and more workers are being asked to come back into the office. Companies are citing a sharp drop in productivity from virtual-based colleagues as the reason for the change in the work location.
The department of labor looked at how virtual-based employees and office-based employees spent their time throughout the day. The study shows that both office and virtual-based colleagues spend similar amounts of time watching Netflix, messaging about non-work-related items, and surfing TikTok or Facebook Reels. The time spent on non-work related items was similar regardless of the work location.
The study showed that the issue comes into play when taking into account complainers. Research showed that the number of complainers and time spent complaining did not change significantly based on work location. The increased drop in productivity is seen in neighbors of the office-based complainer. Virtual-based employees can quickly redirect the complainer, or ignore the complainer altogether. Colleagues working inside offices are not as lucky.
Office-based complainers can take a more invasive approach with the pop-in. The pop-in is a method commonly used by complainers. This method starts with a complainer stopping another colleague’s desk for no apparent reason. The complainer starts a conversation with small talk but quickly eludes to the complaints surrounding their workday.
The study concluded that work-from-home colleagues are generally more productive throughout the work day, and are typically in better spirits due to not having to deal with the office complainers. The study suggested that managers should be aware of the presence of complainers in their offices and should take reconsider having their employees travel to an office-based location.