Below you can see a before and after lockdown look at working from home:
Since almost one third of us is working full time from home, our productivity matters.
So let’s see how we are doing.
Work Productivity At Home
Focusing on a company in China, a group of Stanford University researchers compared the work productivity of 131 travel agency employees at home and 118 in call centers. One group did four days at home and then one day at a call center. They had to have had a home office, sufficient internet capability, have had a job with the firm for six months, and be willing to remain for another nine. The control group remained in the call center. All did air travel and hotel booking,
The call center:
A home-based work force was good for the company. At home, productivity increased by 13 percent and minutes worked by 9.2 percent. Meanwhile, office costs shrunk and a lower quit rate meant training expenses could also go down. The company estimated that employees working at home were each worth an extra $2000.
Explaining their productivity, employees said they took shorter breaks and could take more calls per minute because it was quieter at home. The number of sick days went down because, having no need to do an 80 minute commute, they stayed on the job when they did not feel well. However, the promotion rate did decrease.
One of the economists that wrote the study, Nicholas Bloom, said the coronavirus lockdown is different. Although we are also working at home, we don’t have that one in five days at the office to cement ties with co-workers and the company. Furthermore, our kids, our relatives, perhaps a spouse or a parent and a dog are also nearby. It’s noisy, work space is too small, the distractions too large, and we have a minimal menu of choices. Dr. Bloom said it is a recipe for disaster.
Our Bottom Line: Total Factor Productivity
Because of more calls per minute and less capital needed at the office, total factor productivity–the productivity of land, labor, and capital– rose from a home-based work force at a large Chinese travel agency.
Below, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us a basic definition of total factor productivity (TFP):
Like me, I suspect that you have not increased your firm’s total factor productivity upward during this coronavirus lockdown.
My sources and more: For 2011 and now, Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom was one of the economists on the research team that looked at work productivity at home. For a shorter version of their study, the NBER Digest was ideal.