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The productivity pitfalls of working from home in the age of COVID-19

Interesting contrarian view of Nick Bloom of Stanford comparing working at home during Covid with working from home in ´normal ´times. We are home working alongside our kids, in unsuitable spaces, with no choice and no in-office days,” “This will create a productivity disaster for firms.”

What’s happening today with the coronavirus crisis is completely different thanks to four factors: children, space, privacy and choice.

One requirement for a successful work-from-home program for any business is the requirement that children are in school or daycare, Bloom says.

“Many people I have been interviewing are now working in their bedrooms or shared common rooms, with noise from their partners, family or roommates,” Bloom says.

“I fear this collapse in office face time will lead to a slump in innovation,” he says. “The new ideas we are losing today could show up as fewer new products in 2021 and beyond, lowering long-run growth.”

Despite the drawbacks, Bloom suggests a few things that can help stem the productivity decline he fears: Regular check-ins between managers and their teams; maintaining schedules that strive to separate work life from family life, and collaborating with colleagues on video calls rather than phone calls.

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