As a home-worker myself, I've always wondered why more employers don't allow their employees to work from home. The typical excuses are fear of workers goofing off and not having the inter-office communication that people filling desk chairs would seem to imply.  But there's a recent study, done on a 13,000-employee NASDAQ-listed Chinese company, that basically calls hijinx on all of that nonsense:

The frequency of working from home has been rising rapidly in the US, with over 10% of the
work-force now reporting regular home working. But there is uncertainty and skepticism over
the effectiveness of this, highlighted by phrases like “shirking from home”. We report the results
of the first randomized experiment on home-working, run in a 13,000 employee NASDAQ listed
Chinese firm. Employees that volunteered to work from home were randomized into 9-months of
home-working by even/odd birth-date. We find a highly significant 12% increase in performance
from home-working, of which 8% is from working more minutes of their shift period (fewer
breaks and sick-days) and 3% from higher performance per minute. We find no negative
spillovers onto workers left in the office. Home workers also reported substantially higher work
satisfaction and psychological attitude scores, and their job attrition rates fell by over 50%.
Interestingly, the impact of home-working was ex ante unclear both to the firm and the
employees. The firm ran to experiment to evaluate its impact, and after the experiment was so
enthusiastic it decided to permanently roll out the practice. The employees’ response was much
more heterogeneous, with about one third of employees switching practices after the end of the
experiment. This highlights how the impact of management practices like home-working is
unclear to firms and employees, helping to explain their slow adoption over time.


I'm looking forward to some big companies solving the few remaining issues having to deal with remote workers, like home-based telecom and help desk support.