REMEMBER THE 7am alarm? The rushed goodbye with spouse and children as you dash out of the house? The nervous patting of pockets to check for keys, season ticket, security pass and phone? And the clogged traffic or crowded train carriage?
Most office workers have escaped those familiar rituals for the past four months. But offices are slowly reopening again. And governments are keen to lure workers into the cities, where they can spend their money and help to revive battered economies.
A group of academics led by Ethan Bernstein of Harvard Business School has been surveying American workers during the crisis*. It found that many felt they could be just as productive at home as they had been at the office. In terms of job satisfaction, a small wobble in the first few weeks of lockdown eased as workers adjusted to new routines. But once that adjustment was made, satisfaction increased. Stress levels have fallen by more than 10%. That despite the fact that workers toil for longer: an analysis of one technology company showed that working hours have increased by 10-20% during the pandemic.
That contrasts with less positive results of previous case studies of home-working. Mr Bernstein and his colleagues suggest that the main difference this time is that all employees have been forced into the same situation. In the…