A U.S. study analyzed the shared e-mails and calendars of 3.1 million employees in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East over a 16-week period, including the lockdown period.

With the resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic in recent weeks, home office is making a strong comeback. At the beginning of October, the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, explained that this organization should be favored “as long as the health situation requires it” and “as much as possible” in France.

At the time of lockdown, the fear of a drop in the productivity of their teams had pushed some companies, which had not been very keen on home office before the crisis, to adopt intrusive control behaviors to compensate the distance. However, employees, admitted they work more from home.

A recent U.S. study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School and New York University, agrees with them. According to its results, home office workers would be more productive than employees working at the office: they would work an average of 48.5 minutes more per day, compared to data from “usual” periods. That’s more than 4 hours of overtime per week.

The researchers analyzed the e-mails and shared work diaries of 3.1 million employees in the United States, Europe (Paris, Oslo, Zurich, Madrid, Geneva, Brussels, London) and the Middle East, over a period of 16 weeks, including the lockdown period. In detail, the volume of internal emails received over the period increased by 5%, and virtual meetings by 13%. The time spent in meetings decreased by 20%.

Right to disconnection
This strengthens the position of French unions and lawyers who have been sounding the alarm for several months, calling for better supervision of home office. In particular, they claim that it is more delicate in home office to enforce the right to disconnection because employers are tempted to request employees more outside office hours.

In September, home office in France concerned only one employee out of seven, half as many as during lockdown period, according to the ” Direction de l’animation de la recherche, des études et des statistiques” (Dares) attached to the Ministry of Labor. Many companies, for team cohesion concerns, asked their employees to work “at the office”. The bouncing of the epidemic and the speech of the Head of State Emmanuel Macron this Friday could force them to return to the habits taken during the previous lockdown.

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