Research / BFI Working PaperDec 02, 2020

Why Working From Home Will Stick

Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Steven J. Davis

We survey 15,000 Americans over several waves to investigate whether, how, and why working from home will stick after COVID-19. The pandemic drove a mass social experiment in which half of all paid hours were provided from home between May and October 2020. Our survey evidence says that 22 percent of all full work days will be supplied from home after the pandemic ends, compared with just 5 percent before. We provide evidence on five mechanisms behind this persistent shift to working from home: diminished stigma, better-than-expected experiences working from home, investments in physical and human capital enabling working from home, reluctance to return to pre-pandemic activities, and innovation supporting working from home. We also examine some implications of a persistent shift in working arrangements: First, high-income workers, especially, will enjoy the perks of working from home. Second, we forecast that the postpandemic shift to working from home will lower worker spending in major city centers by 5 to 10 percent. Third, many workers report being more productive at home than on business premises, so post-pandemic work from home plans offer the potential to raise productivity as much as 2.4 percent.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Jan 16, 2019

Dynamism Diminished: The Role of Housing Markets and Credit Conditions

Steven J. Davis, John Haltiwanger
Topics:  Monetary Policy, Employment & Wages, Fiscal Studies, Economic Mobility & Poverty
BFI Working Paper Oct 1, 2016

An Index of Global Economic Policy Uncertainty

Steven J. Davis
Topics:  Financial Markets, Monetary Policy
BFI Working Paper Jun 29, 2020

Economic Uncertainty Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dave Altig, Scott Baker, Jose Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom, Phil Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Steven J. Davis, Brent Meyer, Emil Mihaylov, Paul Mizen, Nick Parker, Thomas Renault, Pawel Smietanka, Greg Thwaites
Topics:  COVID-19