Vox Eu & CEPR
The impact of working from home on productivity, happiness, and careers: Views of leading economists

Working from home: productivity, job satisfaction and careers progression

The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) echoes the results of the survey conducted through leading US and European economists about the potential impact of working from home on productivity, job satisfaction and professional careers over the long term. The analysis of these aspects will be relevant to determine if working from home will continue after the pandemic.

The main findings of the survey are as follows:

  • Productivity: Majority of the respondents say they are uncertain about whether employees spending two of their days each week working from home are, on average, likely to be more productive over the longer term.

    There are clear benefits in favor of higher productivity such as the reduction in time from commuting and positive effects in work-life balance, however the uncertainty comes from the following considerations:

- There is not enough evidence yet on the long-run consequences on trust, collaboration and coordination in organizations. 

- Productivity gains will depend on the nature of job. For example, for knowledge workers productivity over the long term could be higher while for creative jobs social interaction is key so unclear if 40% at home will be better.

  • Job satisfaction: Majority of respondents say employees working from home on average over the long term will report higher levels of job satisfaction. People value flexibility and attrition rates are half than those in person jobs. Some caveats to this general conclusion would be related to lower social interaction, decreasing job attachment or difficulties to disconnect.

  • Women´s Career Progression: Majority of respondents are uncertain about whether having the opportunity to work two to three days a week from home is, on average, like to be more beneficial for women’s career progression than for that of their male colleagues due to, among others, the following reasons: 

- Women will likely make more use of this working from home option, and therefore women may end up being less visible in the workplace.

- Traditional gender roles in childcare persist, which can lead to gender differences as working from-home likely means child-care-during-work for many people, particularly women.

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