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

Summary:
See What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever? by Clive Thompson of The NY Times.In the book Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt said that you can't judge an economic policy based on how it only affects one group nor in just the short-run and not the long-run.Excerpts from the NY Times article: "In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.)""Employees adapted quickly, he says: “They were

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See What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever? by Clive Thompson of The NY Times.

In the book Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt said that you can't judge an economic policy based on how it only affects one group nor in just the short-run and not the long-run.

Excerpts from the NY Times article:

"In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.)"

"Employees adapted quickly, he says: “They were using ironing boards as a stand-up desk.” But what astonished him was that even though they had lost the easy rapport of face-to-face office contact, productivity didn’t sink. It went up, when measured by several metrics — developer productivity, for example."

"Research conducted before the pandemic found that remote work offers significant positive effects for both employee and employer.

One is productivity. What Accenture discovered is not, it seems, a fluke: Output often rises when people work remotely. In 2012, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, headquartered in Northern Virginia, began a program allowing patent examiners to live anywhere. For those who chose to work remotely, productivity rose by 4.4 percent, according to a study last fall by Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School, and two colleagues. A 2015 case study by Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University, and others found that when one Chinese travel agency assigned a random group of employees to work remotely for nine months, their productivity went up by 13 percent, generating an increase of roughly $2,000 in annual profits per employee. (It later rose even higher, to 20 percent.)"

"“But it was win-win,” Bloom says. As far as could be determined, the boost in productivity derived from employees’ being able to work more efficiently, without interruptions from their colleagues."

"People also worked more hours: There was no commute to make them late for their shifts, and even their tea breaks were briefer."

"Working at home can also improve how employees feel about their jobs. Historically, “research has shown a powerful correlation between telecommuting and job satisfaction,” says Timothy Golden, a professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who has studied telework for two decades. People tend to prize the greater flexibility in setting their work hours, the additional time with family members, the reduced distractions. Even with the onslaught of online messages confronting teleworkers, “no one’s stopping by your cubicle standing over you saying, ‘Hey, I need this,’ or ‘I need your help right now,’” Golden told me recently.

Another attraction for employers: shrinking real estate costs. With fewer employees in-house, firms can shed space; for the U.S. Patent Office, “real estate savings were immense” — fully $38 million, according to Choudhury. What’s more, companies can hire talented employees who can’t afford or don’t want to relocate to exorbitantly expensive coastal cities."

"Ben Waber, the president and co-founder of Humanyze, has spent his career tracking patterns among how employees communicate and how these correlate to companies’ health; Humanyze creates software that lets an organization map how communication flows internally. Waber suspects that in the long run, a company’s culture and creativity risk declining in a remote setup, because that alters the way an organization talks to itself. Specifically, the “weak ties” inside a company might fray."

"Waber predicts that companies will continue to hit their marks and be productive while remaining partly — or heavily — remote. The real damage will sneak up a year or two later, as the quality of new ideas becomes less bold, less electrifying. He also suspects that the overall cohesion of employees, how well they know one another, might suffer. “I think we’re going to see just this general degradation of the health of organizations,” he says."

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