Working From Home Will Stick Post-Pandemic, Experts Say
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research contends that working from home may be here to stay after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
The paper — authored jointly by Steven Davis of the University of Chicago, Jose Maria Barrero of Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, and Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University — examines survey information and other data to investigate and explain the shift towards working from home.
“COVID-19 triggered a mass social experiment in working from home,” the text of the research paper, entitled Why Working From Home Will Stick©, states. “Americans, for example, supplied roughly half of paid work hours from home between April and December 2020, as compared to 5% before the pandemic. This seismic shift in working arrangements has attracted no shortage of opinions about whether WFH will stick.”
In the paper, the experts conclude this “experiment” triggered by the pandemic forced businesses to tailor their practices specifically for WFH arrangements. By taking this course of action, many employers may have unwittingly created tangible benefits in their workplaces which are likely to stick post-pandemic.
The experts examined “Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes” data from over 30,000 Americans for the research paper. The shift in working accommodations for some post-pandemic is expected to disproportionately benefit workers who are highly-educated and well-paid.
The researcher’s data on employer plans and the relative productivity of working from home suggest a productivity boost of 5% to the country’s post-pandemic economy because of “re-optimized working arrangements.” This shift towards expanded WFH accommodations is projected to reduce spending in major city centers by anywhere from 5-10% due to reduced commuting costs, relative to the pre-pandemic economic outlook of the region.
“Respondents report lingering concerns about contagion and proximity to others, even as vaccinations have become widely available and more widespread,” Barrero tweeted, suggesting concerns about contagion risks will also contribute to the WFH shift.
Because of new investments in capital that enable sustained WFH practices, better-than-expected WFH experiences throughout the pandemic, diminished WFH stigmatization post-pandemic, and a surge in technological innovations that improve the practice, among other factors, the experts posit this could result in permanent accommodations for some Americans going forward.
Because these newfound productivity gains do not account for time savings from reduced commuting, only about one-fifth of the gains will appear in conventional productivity measures. Working from home arrangements were feasible for roughly half of the employees in the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, which typically entails hybrid scheduling of two workdays per week at home.
“Employer plans imply that the extent of WFH will rise sharply with education and earnings in the post-pandemic economy,” the text of the paper concluded. “These plans align well with worker desires at the upper end of the earnings distribution, but not for others. For most workers, the post-pandemic economy will entail more WFH than in the pre-COVID economy but considerably less than they would like. To put it another way, the benefits of a persistent shift to WFH will be broadly felt but flow mainly to the better educated and the highly paid.”
In The News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite four-decade... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite four-decade high inflation and a myriad of other economic pressures. Applications for jobless aid for the week ending June 18 fell to 229,000, a decline of 2,000... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a healthy 390,000 jobs in May, extending a streak of solid hiring that has... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a healthy 390,000 jobs in May, extending a streak of solid hiring that has bolstered an economy under pressure from high inflation and interest rates. Last month’s gain reflects a still-healthy job market despite concerns that the economy will weaken... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week with the number of Americans collecting unemployment at historically... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week with the number of Americans collecting unemployment at historically low levels. Applications for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to 200,000 for the week ending May 28, the Labor Department reported Thursday. First-time applications generally track... Read More
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., attended a press conference on Wednesday where she spoke about the Workplace Violence Prevention... Read More
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., attended a press conference on Wednesday where she spoke about the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, which she introduced in the U.S. Senate on May 11. “[Health care workers] have seen a spike in... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, extending a streak of solid hiring that has defied punishing... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, extending a streak of solid hiring that has defied punishing inflation, chronic supply shortages, the Russian war against Ukraine and much higher borrowing costs. Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed that last month’s hiring... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is taking a key step toward ensuring that federal dollars will support U.S. manufacturing... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is taking a key step toward ensuring that federal dollars will support U.S. manufacturing — issuing requirements for how projects funded by the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package source their construction material. The guidance being issued Monday requires that the material purchased... Read More