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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Implications of Working Without an Office

Worth while look based on a broad survey, analysis of the results, with some surprising results. 

The Implications of Working Without an Office   HBR Big Idea
HBR Big Idea
By Ethan Bernstein, Hayley Blunden, Andrew Brodsky, Wonbin Sohn, Ben Waber

In early 2020, the world began what is undoubtedly the largest work-from-home experiment in history. Now, as countries reopen but Covid-19 remains a major threat, organizations are wrestling with whether and how to have workers return to their offices. Business leaders need to be able to answer a number of questions to make these decisions. Primary among them is “What impact has working from home had on productivity and creativity?”

To help answer that question, we decided to explore how employees have fared since they began working virtually. To that end, we started surveying a diverse group of more than 600 U.S.-based white-collar employees during the second half of March and have continued to do so every two weeks since then. (This article is based on results collected through May.) Approximately half of our respondents are women, and half are men; they hail from 43 states; nearly half are married; and more than a third have children. About 40% hold management positions. We have been asking them about their job satisfaction, work engagement, perceptions of their own performance, conflicts with colleagues, stress, negative emotions, and current living situation, among other questions. (A fuller description of the survey’s participants is at the end of this article.)

In addition to the survey answers, participants provided written comments. Further, we collected data on the automatically tracked interactions (based on email and calendars) between a separate group of employees of selected organizations from both before and after they began working from home. (While that project is continuing, the interactions we examined for this article began a year before employees began working remotely and ended two months into the lockdown.) Finally, we validated our initial findings through interviews with senior leaders of other organizations who, at the request of their organizations or clients, were investigating the impact of working from home on productivity and creativity. ....'

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