Six months ago, we reviewed Upwork’s seminal research into the future of remote working. The general mood then was that the work-from-home (WFH) transition went better than expected and would likely remain at least partially intact on reopening. Now, as countries begin to remove social distancing restrictions, we examine the latest WFH survey responses included in a new NBER working paper on the topic. For data up to and including March 2021, the authors find:
• Around one in three respondents still spend over two thirds of their working hours at home. Those with higher education, higher earnings, greater internet quality and who are located in blue states are most likely to have worked remotely during the pandemic.
• Employers are planning for a fifth of full workdays to be WFH after the pandemic. This is four times the amount pre-pandemic but around one day less a week than what most employees want.
• Workers cite the cost of transitioning to WHF ($1,500 per person), greater productivity and fear of mingling as the main reasons for remaining at least partially at home. Indeed, the authors find that WFH can improve total productivity by 3.6-4.6%.
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