Friday, January 08, 2021

With No Commute, Americans Simply Worked More During Coronavirus

Employees spent over 22 million extra hours on their primary job each workday

By Jo Craven McGinty of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"From mid-March to mid-September, Americans spent 60 million fewer hours commuting to and from work each day, according to one estimate, as lockdown orders to curb the spread of Covid-19 forced many employees to clock in from home."

"Primary jobs absorbed the largest chunk of the extra time—about 35.3%, or more than 22 million hours each workday, according to an analysis of census and survey data published last month.

Another 15.5% (more than nine million hours) was spent on home improvements and chores; 11.1% (nearly seven million hours) was devoted to child care; and 8.4% (more than five million hours) went to second jobs."

"Paradoxically, even as workers reported spending more than a third of their former commuting time on their primary jobs, they simultaneously said that, overall, they worked less. They spent 36.4 hours a week working on average before the pandemic, compared with 32 hours during the pandemic."

"in the pandemic economy, just over half of paid employees worked from home."

"In a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2014, to which Dr. Bloom contributed, researchers followed employees of Ctrip, a large Chinese travel agency, for nine months to see whether employees would work from home or “shirk from home.”

In that experiment, 500 call-center employees were randomly assigned to work in the office, and another 500 were randomly assigned to work from home.

The performance of those working from home increased 13%.

“They were logged onto their computers longer,” Dr. Bloom said [ Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University]. “They processed calls quicker. Their success rates were nearly identical.”

Encouraged by the results, the travel agency offered the option to work from home to all its employees and saw performance increase more than 20%."

Related posts:

Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All

Since people feel more disorganized and chaotic when they are at home, should business leaders take this into account when they consider whether to make remote working the norm after the pandemic subsides?

Remote work is surprisingly productive (for now, but what about in the long-run?)  

Does a Raise or Remote Work Sound Better? 

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