Why are some more productive at home, while others are not?
The future of work life balance

What helps us stay productive while working from home?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were asked to work from home. While some argue that the lack of interruptions has led to increased productivity, others have also complained that the distractions at home have made it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to focus on work. So, is there any consensus of what will help workers stay productive while working from home?

In a field study conducted by Professor Bloom and his team from Stanford University, the data concluded that employees of a travel agency who worked from home led to a 13% performance increase. Employees taking fewer breaks and sick leave accounted for 9% of this increase. The other 4% was because of a quieter and more convenient work environment, which led to greater efficiency at work. In fact, the employees reported greater satisfaction at work while working from home.

In a more recent field study by Assistant Professor Boltz from University Paris, her research team concluded work schedule flexibility was instrumental in improving work performance.

There were two groups of works in this study, the first group had flexible working hours, whereas the second followed the fixed schedule. Both groups performed simple data entry tasks so that the researchers could compare both groups of outputs. At the end of the research, employees with flexible schedules reported work accuracy of up to 10% more than employees with fixed hours. Additionally, the first group of employees also spent less time at work, 7% less than the second group of employees. 

While work flexibility can help improve employee performance, the environment must also be able to accommodate the needs of the employee and his work. In a study of workplace influence on workers’ performance, DeMarco and Lister, principals of the Atlantic Systems Guild, concluded that privacy and physical floor space were the top environmental aspects that affected their workers’ performance.

Writer’s Shed

One of the ways to achieve this privacy is to build a backyard office, such as the Writer’s Shed by architect Matt Gibson and landscape designer Ben Scott. By separating the office from the living quarters, the residents have access to much-needed privacy when they are at work. And when they are not at work, the backyard office doubles as a sheltered viewing space for those summer backyard gatherings. From this research, we focused on delivering a flexible space in Habitus, where residents can use for work and other functions.

Traditionally, the entrance space is simply used as a garage. Instead, we invested in proper fittings and finishes and so that the ground floor multifunctional space extends seamlessly into the garage. We also added a glazed bifold door between the spaces, so that residents can create different sizes to accommodate different uses. For example, residents can close the doors to create a distinct office to receive and meet clients, or they can open the doors to create a indoor outdoor entertainment area.

This design approach not only allows residents to enjoy the extra space when working from home, but also removes them from any possible distractions in the rest of the house. Lastly, this redesign also prevents work from spilling into the living areas, yet still be readily available for the residents to jump into an office conference call any time of the day.

If you’re looking to create a new place to work from home, why not reconsider doing up the garage and using the privacy and space to your benefits?


  • Transformed thinking into action

Here at Beulah, our projects are driven by investigative thinking and the pursuit for design and research innovation. Through these insights, we create transformational spaces and experience for present and future generations.

We transform this thinking into action for Habitus Townhomes.


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