Our WFH Watchers have been tracking their flow of work tasks …how many per day, and how long they take to complete. They calculated how many tasks on average they were handling pre-Covid & compared that number with the average number of tasks they are currently being allocated. 

So, which do you think is more…tasks allocated before of after Covid? So far, we’re finding that the post-Covid throughput is lower by an average of 6%. Other things we’re measuring include the time it’s taking to complete tasks (up to 16% longer)

What does this tell us? Well, as far as the allocation of tasks goes, a theory we’ve considered is that if we’re not present in the workplace, new work assignments are received more slowly simply because you’re not always there when they come up and we’re generally less available to discuss them. This, in turn impacts overall completion time. Of course, we’re still electronically available but that takes longer to set the task in motion than pre-Covid.

At the other end of the project life cycle, group members report that they are able to complete tasks more quickly because (a) there aren’t so many requests to squeeze last minute ‘urgent’ tasks in ahead of previously allocated work and (b) there’s a generally smoother, more ordered workflow now which gives time for everyone to have a higher level of focus on the task in hand.

Meanwhile, opinion continues to blow hot and cold for WFH around the globe. Here’s a round up of current trends

In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported this week that two out of three Hong Kong office staff want to keep working from home. So, they will have mixed feeling to hear that up to 65 per cent of Hong Kong’s corporate leaders say their companies are planning to redesign their office space to accommodate a “hybrid” culture combining in-office and work-from-home arrangements.

In Singapore this month The Straits Times reported that up to 50 per cent of ‘work-from-home’ employees will be allowed to return to their workplace as Singapore eases its Covid-19 restrictions. On August 6th, the Ministry of Health said the easing of measures will take place only if the Covid-19 situation remains under control. Working from home has been the arrangement for offices since May, following a spike in Covid-19 community cases.

The Japan Times reports that the number of people working remotely in Japan fell slightly from 20.4 % to 19.2% last month as a result of “telework (the generic term for WFH) fatigue.” More people are finding efficiency to be an issue with telework and satisfaction levels have also deteriorated even as the government calls for people to work mainly from home under the latest COVID-19 state of emergency. According to the survey, which polled 1,100 people on July 5 and 6, the overall proportion of those working remotely at least some of the time, almost unchanged at 20.4%.

Meanwhile, social media has highlighted the top 5 significant benefits which WFH has brought:

1.     the absence of commuting

2.     fewer meetings (although other media report an increase in meetings online)

3.     fewer interruptions

4.    less moving around

5.    smoother workflow

New York Times

Almost two-thirds of U.S. workers said they wanted to work from home at least three days a week when the pandemic is over. But opinions differ and there is a view that there will be divisions over whether employers will allow remote work in the future.

A more worrying struggle may be over whether employers take most or all of these newfound benefits for themselves — not by prohibiting remote work but by expecting more hours from employees once the labour market is not as favourable to workers as it is right now.

‘Yes’, some employers will probably fight the remote work trend, says David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs who called remote work an “aberration,” and the firm’s bankers returned to the office in June. Across town, James Gorman, the Morgan Stanley chief executive, announced that his company’s employees would return by September and said, “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York.”

So, overall the current state of WfH worldwide, seems to be that it’s not continuing to rise along the high trajectory at which it started and views on its future seem to be split along the employer/employee divide.