The great work-from-home experiment brought in by the pandemic has divided opinion in the corporate world. It has sparked endless debates about whether employees work as effectively from their comfy couch as they do from their office. A new study suggests that remote work has indeed made us more productive. The research was co-authored and conducted by Jose Maria Barrero of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Hoover Institution.
According to the reports, the work-from-home boom is likely to lift productivity in the US economy by 5%, mostly because of savings in commuting. The studies suggest that the rapid adoption of new technology amid the pandemic will offer lasting economic gains, helping to boost sluggish productivity that has downgraded global growth for a long.
Although, not everyone is a fan of remote work. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon has called the new arrangements “an aberration” that the investment bank will “correct as quickly as possible.” He has also argued that it’s especially crucial for new recruits to absorb the Wall Street culture and if not, the work from the home structure will fail to nurture them.
In contrast, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said that the ability to hire engineers far from Facebook Inc.’s main offices has opened up new pools of talent, and many employees have continued working remotely after the pandemic, that also on salaries that are more in line with their new locations.
A study polled more than 30,000 US workers to determine whether arrangements that began as a stopgap will endure once infections have subsided. The research found that 20% of full workdays will be from home after the pandemic, compared with just 5% before which is far less than at the height of the crisis. This came as companies across the globe continue to announce work-from-home arrangements, shedding downtown office space. HSBC Holdings Plc announced it was scrapping the executive floor of its London Canary Wharf headquarters, turning top staff’s private offices into client meeting rooms and collaborative spaces. Twitter Inc. has also announced that its employees can continue working from home permanently.
The experience has complicated economic and racial fault lines in the United States, given that many lower-paying jobs in food preparation and other essential industries can’t be done remotely. This potentially places those workers at a greater risk of Covid infection. The benefits of working from home “will accrue disproportionately to the highly educated and well paid,” according to the study.
According to a UK government study that was conducted years before the pandemic, people who worked from home were far less likely to be promoted or progress in their career. However, the narrative has completely changed since Covid has reduced the stigma that comes with working from home, the study found. The research found that technological innovations and investments, better-than-expected experience, and lingering fears of crowds and contagion will all reinforce the new working arrangements, according to the research.
The study stated, “Our data on employer plans and the relative productivity of WFH imply a 5% productivity boost in the post-pandemic economy due to re-optimized working arrangements,” also adding, “Only one-fifth of this productivity gain will show up in conventional productivity measures because they do not capture the time savings from less commuting.”
The research further indicates that higher-income employees will especially enjoy large benefits from this new remote work model. The shift to working from home will directly reduce spending in major city centres by at least 5%-10% relative to pre-pandemic. The research concluded by stating, “The shift to WFH will also have highly uneven geographic effects, diminishing the fortunes of cities like San Francisco with high rates of inward commuting.”