As the economy reopens and more businesses are contemplating whether or not to bring employees back to the office, a new study suggests that remote work makes workers more productive.
The authors of Why Working From Home Will Stick, a working paper from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, surveyed more than 30,000 Americans “over multiple waves” to learn whether remote work will stay and why. The study found that after the pandemic, 20% of full workdays will be from home compared to 5% before.
The study found that because of savings in commuting time, working from home will lift productivity in the U.S. economy by 5%. The study also found that the adoption of new technology during the pandemic will boost productivity and offer economic gain.
But not every company is ready for a permanent shift to remote staffing. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has called remote work arrangements “an aberration” and said the investment bank will “correct as quickly as possible,” according to Fortune. However, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has stated that the past year has allowed the company to expand its reach for talent acquisition, and Facebook will allow many employees to continue working remotely.
More companies are announcing remote work arrangements and are reducing office space as a result. However, the study implied that there would be social consequences. “The benefits will accrue disproportionately to the highly educated and well paid. Indeed, the gap between employer plans regarding WFH [work from home] and employee desires is small for highly paid workers, but it becomes wider and wider as we look down the earnings distribution.”
A PwC survey of 133 U.S. executives between Nov. 24 and Dec. 5, 2020 found that less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was before the pandemic, demonstrating a preference for hybrid onsite/remote working conditions after the pandemic.
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