There's been a lot of guessing related to how the world of work is changing in a COVID world, especially for white collar professional jobs who have the ability to work remotely in the lockdown. Hot takes include the following:
--Remote work is here to stay, pack up the office.
--Productivity is at an all-time high!
--Everyone hates Zoom.
Are any of those true? Maybe, maybe not - I find the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.
But the best study I've seen to date is the one below from NBER, which looks in depth at the impact of the COVID lockdown on a specific topic - meetings - across meta-data from 3 Million users. Yes, 3 million! So meaningful that we talked about it on a segment of one of my podcasts, HR Famous. See the top line notes from the study below and then take a listen to the podcast for discussion.
More meetings. More participants in those meetings, shorter meetings in length, longer workdays. Best study yet, check it out and take a listen to the pod segment as well.
More from Marginal Revolution:
Using de- identified, aggregated meeting and email meta-data from 3,143,270 users, we find, compared to pre- pandemic levels, increases in the number of meetings per person (+12.9 percent) and the number of attendees per meeting (+13.5 percent), but decreases in the average length of meetings (-20.1 percent). Collectively, the net effect is that people spent less time in meetings per day (-11.5 percent) in the post- lockdown period. We also find significant and durable increases in length of the average workday (+8.2 percent, or +48.5 minutes), along with short-term increases in email activity.
That is drawn from data from Europe, North America, and the Middle East, in this new NBER paper by Evan DeFilippis, Stephen Michael Impink, Madison Singell, Jeffrey T. Polzer, and Raffaella Sadun.
In episode 27 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss theories on why meeting times have decreased during the pandemic (but the number of meetings is up) and workplace relationship issues that have reemerged surrounding former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook (McLovin from episode 2 of HR Famous).
1:00 - The resident ginger of HR Famous is back from vacation! Welcome back Tim!
4:40 - Tim got some flowers for his wife and tried to share the great deal with the HR Famous crew and Jlee had to kindly reject (she doesn’t like roses!) and KD had bought flowers for his wife 30 minutes prior to Tim's text. Jlee also implores her vast knowledge of flowers onto the men of the group.
7:00 - First topic of the day - a new study was released from the National Bureau of Economic Research about changes in the workday. The study shows that the number of meetings and number of attendees per meeting have increased during the pandemic, but there is a reduction in meeting length.
9:20 - Jlee thinks the reduction in meeting time can be attributed to less travel time from meeting to meeting and the convenience of meeting remotely. How far do you have to travel to get to meetings in your office? KD thinks the reduction is due to having more meetings. Tim thinks it can be attributed to the digital platforms.
12:30 - KD had to lead his first in person, socially distanced, masked up long meeting recently and he said it was horrible. He would prefer to do it through Zoom.
15:00 - One more stat from this study: the average work day has increased by 48.5 minutes while working remotely. Tim doesn’t believe people are actually working more but they are just working at different times of the day.
17:15 - How early do you schedule your meetings? Jlee is a fan of 7:30 am meetings.