Health & Fitness | August 14, 2020 11:40 am

Employees Are Working Longer Under COVID-19 Quarantine

A new study suggests WFH means more meetings and longer work days

WFH
Tina Witherspoon / Unsplash

For those white-collar firms impatiently waiting to get everyone back to the office, consider this: People at home are working more.

As reported by Insight, a new National Bureau of Economic Research study claims the average lockdown working day is now 48 minutes longer than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study (“Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work”) was conducted by the Harvard Business School and New York University and sampled working data from over three million people, 21,000 companies and multiple continents. It utilized data from the eight weeks before and eight weeks after lockdowns started, and it considers itself the “first large scale analysis of how digital communication patterns have changed in the early stages of the pandemic.”

Other findings:

  • Meetings increased by 13 percent, though overall time in meetings decreased
  • People were sending an average of 1.4 emails more per day
  • Employees were more likely to be sending work emails outside of their normal working hours

Safety aside (and that’s a big aside), the results were not a clear-cut case for either keeping everyone at home or bringing everyone back.

As the study notes:

It is unclear if this increase in average workday span represents a benefit or drawback to employee well-being. On one hand, the flexibility to choose one’s working hours to accommodate household demands may empower employees by affording them some freedom over their own schedule. On the other hand, the change in work schedule may be a consequence of a blurred distinction between work and personal life, in which it becomes easy to overwork due to the lack of clear delineation between the office and home.

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