Americans who work from home are getting more productive

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For the minority of Americans who have been lucky enough to work from home for the past two years, the journey may seem to be coming to an end. Employers, young and old, are asking their employees to return to the office, just as these employees have been working very well from home.

According to Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom, people working remotely say they are more productive than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. Bloom, who has been studying distance learning for a long time before it was great, has partnered with other academics at the University of Chicago, ITAM and MIT since May 2020 to conduct a large ongoing survey on employee work arrangements and attitudes toward distance work. In April, people who worked remotely at least part of the time reported being about 9 percent more efficient working from home than from the office. This is a 5% increase from the summer of 2020.

Because? Bloom says we’ve improved.

“When we moved to work from home in March 2020, we weren’t fully prepared,” Bloom told Recode. “We didn’t have management systems, performance review systems, meeting structures, workflows, equipment.”

We are now much better set up and productivity should continue to improve as technology makes it easier, according to Bloom.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, as the worst parts of the pandemic fade, our out-of-work support systems (daycare, friends and family, the ability to do literally anything but stay if at home) have also largely returned.

“What you did during the pandemic and its aftermath didn’t work from home,” Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel point out at the beginning of their book. Outside the office: the big problem and the biggest promise of working from home. “You were working in confinement and coercion.”

Of course, this productivity data is self-reported and most people say they want to keep working from home, so take it with a grain of salt. However, there are objective data, such as more calls per minute for call center workers, engineers who send more changes to the code and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on production growth per hour worked, which generally they have shown that people are, in fact, more productive work from home. But even the idea that people feel more productive is important.

About 40 percent of U.S. workdays are currently done from home, according to Bloom data. This figure follows data from the office card company Kastle, which is looking at office buildings with 43 percent occupancy. Bloom expects it to stay around 25 to 30 percent after the pandemic, meaning work from home will by no means disappear. Thus, although traffic has returned mainly to pre-pandemic levels in hotels, cinemas and restaurants, offices remain a barrier.

Many employers have admitted that productivity is good at home, but they are still concerned about other immeasurables, such as the ability of workers to collaborate and be creative from home. A December report from Northeastern University found that more than half of C-suite executives in all industries were concerned about the ability of their workforce to be creative and innovative while working remotely. They also care about how their long-distance work will affect the culture and loyalty of their business. Interestingly, Slack’s Future Forum found that executives are more likely to say they want to work from the office than non-executives, but are less likely to do so full-time. The study also found that since one-third of office workers have returned to the office five days a week, the highest since the survey began in June 2020, these workers are also reporting his worst work experience.

But in today’s job market, many workers are doing remote work and bosses aren’t exactly in a position to step back. The interest in remote work is constantly greater than that of on-site work. About 20 percent of paid job listings on LinkedIn were remote in March, but saw the majority of requests (52 percent), according to the company. And 60 percent of knowledge workers said they would leave their job for a totally remote one.

In fact, employers seem to be giving in to the desire of employees to work from home. According to Bloom polls, office workers say their employers plan to let them work an average of 2.3 days a week after the pandemic. That’s more than 1.6 days in the summer of 2020.

Apple had said it would allow workers to enter the office three days a week, but has since postponed and modified that plan after cracking down on workers and a prominent machine learning engineer. resigned due to the company’s lack of flexibility. Even die-hard office workers like the big banks are changing their view and offering more and more remote work. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who has expressed contempt for remote work, said in his latest letter to the shareholder that only half of the company’s employees would be in the office full-time. .

Anecdotally, we’re hearing from people who have to go to the office a few days a week that it’s not really happening. Technology companies, law firms, and insurance companies tell employees to come two or three days a week and show up for one or two. Of course, companies could fire workers for failing to comply with office orders, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

It’s less clear what happens when the economy gets bitter and when people don’t have as much leverage as they do now. In this case, employers may be more able to force workers to return to the office, or they may go the other way and get rid of more office space.

As it stands, 52 percent of the 185 office firms recently surveyed by real estate services firm CBRE said they intend to downsize their office real estate over the next three years, compared to 39 percent. percent say they are expanding (9 percent say they are keeping their current footprint). The survey found that the majority of companies, 73 percent, plan to follow a hybrid work plan in which people work from home and from the office, while 19 percent are only in the office and 8 percent are completely remote. In the midst of uncertainty, coworking spaces, which can be downloaded much faster than traditional office spaces, are thriving.

At the moment, a lot of office workers are doing a pretty good job working from home.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Register here so you don’t miss the next one!

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