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The pandemic workday is 48 minutes longer and has more meetings

‘People have adjusted their work patterns.’
Image: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

We log longer hours. We attend more meetings with more people. And, we send more emails.

From New York City to Tel Aviv, the telecommuting revolution has meant a lot more work, according to a study of 3.1 million people at more than 21 000 companies across 16 cities in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

The researchers compared employee behaviour over two 8 week periods before and after Covid-19 lockdowns. Looking at email and meeting meta-data, the group calculated the workday lasted 48.5 minutes longer, the number of meetings increased about 13% and people sent an average of 1.4 more emails per day to their colleagues.

In a few cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, the average workday length returned to its pre-pandemic levels. But longer days persisted in New York City, San Jose and most of Europe well into May.

“People have adjusted their work patterns,” said Jeff Polzer, a professor in the organisational behaviour department at Harvard Business School, one of the study’s five co-authors.

During the two month time frame, there was one part of working that did improve: Those additional meetings were shorter, according to the analysis by researchers at Harvard Business School and New York University. The study was published by the National Bureau of Economic Relations this July.

Companies are studying the impact of the forced work-from-home experiment on productivity, morale, culture, costs and other factors to determine how they might modify their practices going forward. Other analyses looking at VPN data found people were putting in three additional hours in the US and logging in at odd hours. People who spoke to Bloomberg News attributed their harried schedules to child care demands, blurring boundaries between work and home, and the stresses of an economic recession.

The group from Harvard and NYU said their research represents one of the largest studies so far and included data from 16 metropolitan areas.

Polzer from Harvard says more research is needed to see if habits have changed permanently, but he doesn’t expect behaviour to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. “It’s not like we’re going to back to normal times,” he said.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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More work and less productivity.

Things are taking a lot longer.

Having worked from home for 20 years. They have a lot to study and consider.

Initially a lot of people will be more productive. Then they will get bored and send more emails. Then they will get lonely and clamour to go back to a work place.

Then productivity will fall because creative ideas come about at the coffee machine.

All will take 3 to 10 years before the psychological changes are completely permanent. Going to be very interesting

Many of them FEAR the fact that if this lock down continues MANY MANY MORE WILL LOSE THEIR JOBS!! As the government employee’s get paid for doing nothing??????? Things that make you go Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

At least people are making up for this with two hours less commute – and the commute expense.

exactly, the commute and getting ready to go, needs to factored into your workday calc. A 9 hour in the office is far closer to 10-11 hours with all that factored in. Although that 9 hour should probably just be 4 hours plus a lot of e-mails =)

The ultimate aim should be to find one’s vocation so that one is able to be in a state of flow (aka being in the zone) while earning a living.

Even though it is widely accepted that virtually all regularly scheduled meetings are a complete waste of time, the corporate ethos insists on persevering with them. The sad truth is that when not in meetings a fair percentage of middle and upper management do little but sit in their offices until the next meeting, while trying to appear busy. With stay-at-home offices now being almost ubiquitous, the latter “activity” is now impossible for these worthies to simulate convincingly, so it makes sense for them to encourage an increase in the number of meetings in order to fill their day. Watch out for them: when the tide goes out, the jelly fish are left stranded on the beach.

Yes, they may work 49 minutes longer but they don’t have to spend time commuting in the traffic. So isn’t it all equal?

End of comments.

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