Sep 21, 2023
In a world where remote work has become the norm for many, there are still skeptics who question its efficacy. However, leading economist Nicholas Bloom offers a different perspective. In a recent episode of the McKinsey Global Institute’s Forward Thinking podcast, Bloom shared his insights on the evolution of remote work and its potential benefits.
Debunking the Myths
Contrary to popular belief, hybrid work models can be effective. Bloom’s advice to companies is simple: “Be intentional, be organized.” He suggests having employees come into the office for two or three days a week and allowing them to work from home the rest of the time.
A Glimpse into Bloom’s Background
Bloom, the William Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford University, has had a diverse career journey. From working at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London to a stint at McKinsey and then transitioning to academia, Bloom’s experiences have given him a unique perspective on the world of work.
The Evolution of Remote Work
Interestingly, remote work was not a new concept even before the pandemic. Bloom’s research indicates that people have been working from home since the 1960s. By 2019, 5% of full paydays in America were completely from home. However, the pandemic accelerated this trend, with the number skyrocketing to 60% at its peak.
The Productivity Debate
One of the key benefits of remote work, according to Bloom, is increased productivity. Employees save approximately 70 minutes a day by eliminating commutes and other office-related preparations. This extra time often translates into an additional hour of work per week. Moreover, the quiet environment at home is conducive to deep work, further enhancing productivity.
The Case for Hybrid Work
While fully remote work offers significant cost savings in terms of real estate and the ability to hire globally, it also presents challenges. Building trust, fostering creativity, and mentoring are often more effective in person. Hybrid models, which combine in-office and remote work, seem to offer the best of both worlds. They cater to employees’ preferences while ensuring that collaborative and creative tasks are done in person.
The Importance of Being Organized
For hybrid work to be successful, Bloom emphasizes the need for organization. Employees should be in the office on the same days to facilitate collaboration and socialization. This not only boosts productivity but also helps in building a cohesive team.
Diversity and Inclusion
Another significant advantage of flexible work models is the promotion of diversity and inclusion. Remote work options often appeal to minorities in the workplace, be it in terms of race, gender, age, political preference, or religion. By offering such flexibility, companies can retain a diverse workforce and foster a more inclusive environment.
The future of work is undeniably changing. While the debate on the best work model continues, insights from experts like Nicholas Bloom provide valuable guidance. As the world navigates this new normal, being adaptable, understanding employee preferences, and fostering an inclusive environment will be key to success.