The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has left eternal impacts on society and our lives, for better or for worse. However, what has perhaps been affected the most over the past year and a half has been the functioning of offices and workplaces, and perhaps somewhat the nature of the work itself. With remote working being the norm these days, there has been a lot of discussion about how the “new normal” of working from home affects productivity and production. Now, two separate groups of economists have independently conducted surveys and published articles on the same. But their findings offer very different impressions of remote working.
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According to a report through Atlantic, the articles published by the two teams of economists on the impact of remote working do not present a clear answer as to whether remote working is better than its alternative to the office. the first team examined an unnamed Asian tech company that became completely remote during the pandemic. It has not achieved the expected growth levels; instead, productivity plummeted, uninterrupted work time decreased, and mentorship evaporated. “Almost anything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” the article said.
On the other hand, the second team conducted a survey of 30,000 people in the United States over the past few months and found, on the contrary, that people were “extremely satisfied” with their work from home experience. The authors of the article even predicted that the practice of remote working will continue even after the end of the pandemic, noting that “productivity would increase in the post-pandemic economy, due to re-optimized working arrangements” .
So why do the two surveys differ so much in their conclusions? Does that mean one of them is wrong? There may not be a clear answer as to whether remote working is ‘better’ than its alternative, but the report offers some interesting conjectures.
According to the report, there are clearly defined “winners” and “losers” in the home work revolution. The losers are, unsurprisingly, people who misuse online tools to communicate, but also other groups, such as entry-level workers in less established positions and downtown owners and businesses. So the winners are the work introverts who excel at remote working, as well as the high-income workers in highly profitable companies.
It’s no surprise that some very profitable companies are considering switching to remote working for good. Big tech companies like Google and Facebook have been reported to be considering a hybrid workweek, with some of their employees permanently telecommuting. Who benefits from this initiative? The answer is not that hard to find. White-collar workers, especially high-income men in their 30s and 40s, have been happier than any other group to work from home. “The most likely immediate winners of the remote working revolution are therefore those who, from an economic point of view, are already winning,” the report says.
So at the other end of the spectrum are entry-level workers, new hires, and young people who don’t have a better idea of the work environment. The report mentions that the work-from-home “revolution”, as it is known, also disproportionately favors the college graduate class, as people with a graduate degree are more likely to have a better job. remote working experience compared to people with a high level of schooling. “The remote work revolution is therefore primarily a revolution for the college class,” the report says.