The NY Fed tells us that remote work has stuck:
For services (blue) and manufacturing (mustard), a relatively substantial number of us remain remote:
But it has been disruptive. Let’s see how.
There is much more than the pay we receive for a job. Work has a cost. It can start with the cost of commuting. We can add the time, dollar, and energy cost of dressing for work. For some of us, it relates to child or elder care. On the other side of the balance sheet, we have the food that work provides and the pleasure of interacting with our colleagues.
In many ways, the pandemic changed all of these costs and benefits.
In a recent paper, researchers looked at the post-pandemic world of work in 27 countries. They found, for example, that workers wanted more work-from-home (WFH) days than their bosses planned for.
Working from home, the cost of commuting diminished. But also, the benefit of seeing our colleagues disappeared. If you could not work at home, Covid intensified the health risk at work. They also found that women valued WFH more than men as did people with longer commutes. Looking outside the workplace, urban areas might not look forward to as much of a return to the related commercial activity. After all, we are not buying lunches nor perhaps renting real estate,
Below, the men and women are more similar than I might have expected:Our Bottom Line: Productivity
Among the multitude of issues that relate to Work-From-Home, productivity is one of the most important. The results are mixed. Furthermore, many of the answers are anecdotal. But still, we can say that it depends on whether we are looking at services or manufacturing and the kind of the service. As you would expect, the service jobs that depended on face to face contact were relatively unaffected by WFH. From here, we can just say that, approximately one third of all service firms report a decline in productivity because of WFH while close to one fifth said it had increased.
So, where are we. We just know for for sure that Covid has disrupted our assumptions about where and how we work. Also, economist Timothy Taylor asks whether our data takes us to the bigger issue of a clash between where employers want us to work and where their employees want to be.
My sources and more: Thanks to the Conversable Economist for whetting my interest for remote issues. From there this paper from Brookings and this one from Liberty Street ideally converged.