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BEERG Newsletter - Future of Work: Some recent developments

Professor Nick Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, gave the 2023 IFS Annual Lecture on "Does working from home have a future?" The pandemic-era surge in working from home is one of the greatest changes to economic life in many decades. But will this last, or will managers force employees full-time back to the office? 

Professor Bloom discusses the latest data, trends and evidence on working from home, arguing while fully remote working is winding down, hybrid work with 2 or 3 days a week at home has become the new normal. He discusses how firms in the UK, US and globally are managing this, and why hybrid has become so dominant for professionals and managers. Finally, Bloom discusses some of impacts of working from home, including on housing prices, commuting patterns, spending patterns and even on mid-week golfing. You can watch his lecture here.

Not all are convinced of the benefits of WFH. Jeremy Hunt, the UK's finance minister, has said the "default" location for workers should be in the office, unless there is a good reason to work remotely or in a hybrid pattern. Hunt said that while working remotely has produced "exciting opportunities," he is worried about a "loss of creativity" when it is permanent. A recent Deloitte survey found that 77% of Gen Z and 71% of millennials would consider looking for a new job if their employer asked them to go to their workplace full-time. 

Kate Sweeney, partner and human capital lead at Deloitte, said younger workers "expect to be able to flex their work to accommodate their personal life." She added: "Employers who recognise this desire for choice and support this are more likely to attract, retain and motivate the best talent from these two generations.” Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “Office environments provide valuable opportunities for collaboration, learning and social interaction, but the pandemic has also demonstrated the value of remote working in fostering employee well-being, and work-life balance, without compromising on productivity.”

 

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Authors: Tom Hayes

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