Many people have been complaining during the latest months that working from home is tricky. You never know when to stop; it’s difficult to clearly distinguish between working time and home time, working space, and a personal one. In a word, when you’re WFH, it’s challenging to stop working and to put aside some personal time.
A study of more than three million remote workers during the pandemic was carried out by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research. The analysis found that employees’ working days increased, and they attended more, although shorter meetings.
Mostly, that’s happening to those who are used to turn commuting into an easy way to switch to “work mode” going to an office where you know for sure that’s professional time, productivity-focused. When you’re at home, if you don’t establish your routines and follow them in a very disciplined way, it’s so easy to get confused.
What would be the lesson of the situation? Productivity may be a state of mind, more like an environment you create than a schedule to need to meet. Sometimes productivity is very little related to the time you invest in a task, although we’ve been told for a couple of centuries that the economy needs to work nine to five.
We’re wired to think that if we work less, we do less. But numbers are entirely against this belief. Especially during the development of the Third Industrial Revolution (computers and telecommunications, the age of information and knowledge).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, during the last 40 years, the average annual hours worked per employed person went down from more than 1,800 hours to around 1,700. Ok, let’s admit we are working more or less the same time, but productivity… doubled. We’re talking about real GDP per hour worked, and this went from 31 dollars to more than 60 dollars. According to other sources, it may have tripled between 1950 and 2017, from less than 20 to more than 60 dollars of GDP produced per hour.