Use this Goldman Sachs data to convince your boss you should work from home and travel less for meetings

remote worker laptop cafe
  • Goldman Sachs found productivity jumped by 3% during the pandemic, especially in jobs that worked remotely.
  • Productivity is measured by looking at how much output workers produce per hour on average.
  • To be sure, people may have been more productive last year, but they were also burned out.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re eager to return to the office, this data isn’t for you.

But, if you’re one of the nearly 40% of workers who wants to keep working from home so much that you’d consider quitting your job rather than return to the office, Goldman Sachs has some data that could help your case.

The investment bank found that productivity in the US economy increased just over 3% per hour since the start of the pandemic, largely in industries that adapted to remote work and less travel. That’s more than double the 1.4% per hour growth in the period prior.

Productivity is the measure of goods or services workers produce per hour on average. Many companies have been able to cut costs on things like office rent, furniture and equipment, holiday parties, client events, and work travel. With the continued evolution of business models, including automation and increased worker efficiency, Goldman Sachs expects to see productivity to rise by about 4% by 2022.

Gains were highest in jobs like IT, professional services, and product development that were able to accommodate virtual meetings and did away with in-person costs associated with travel and entertainment. Right now the cost of rental cars, gas, hotels, food, and airfare are all on the rise, making travel, whether for work or pleasure, even more expensive.

While price inflation is likely temporary, the psychological effects of working from home will last much longer. On the positive side, many remote workers are happier, and women and people of color have greater feelings of security and freedom from sexism and racism in the workplace.

To be sure, working from home comes with its own set of problems. At the same time American workers were more productive, they were also more burned out. Part of the World Health Organization’s definition of burnout is diminished performance.

When building your case to work from home and travel less, it could help to cite your mental health and psychological engagement, in addition to what you were able to accomplish over the last year and the money you saved your employer by doing all of that from home.

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People are going to spend up to 10% less in cities because of working from home, study says

New York outdoor dining
People dine at an outdoor Soho restaurant on March 21, 2021 in New York City.

  • Spending in major metro areas will drop by 5% to 10% because of working from home, UChicago researchers said.
  • A cutback in commuting will hit urban spending on food, shopping, and entertainment, they added.
  • This could lead to tax raises or job cuts in cities that are just recovering from the COVID-19 recession.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The post-pandemic economy will look different from the one seen in February 2020. In a word, it will be emptier. Gone are the days of an office-based 9-to-5; instead, workplaces are rolling out plans for hybrid telecommuting and even fully remote work.

But where work-from-home will benefit Americans in reducing commute times and granting extra flexibility, nobody knows just how much it will hit the urban economies that used to support office workers in the before times. University of Chicago researchers have an idea, or at least an estimate.

The post-pandemic shift to work-from-home setups will decrease spending in major metropolitan areas by 5% to 10%, researchers Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven Davis said in a working paper published on Wednesday. The shortfall could even reach 13% in densely populated areas like Manhattan, the team added, citing their own survey data.

“As these workers cut back on commuting, they will spend less on food, shopping, personal services, and entertainment near workplaces clustered in city centers,” the economists said. “Central business districts will see considerably larger spending drops relative to the pre-pandemic levels.”

Such a spending drop would present a major challenge for cities looking to recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout. Consumer spending counts for roughly 70% of economic activity and is a particularly important economic driver in areas that faced strict lockdowns throughout the health crisis.

Retail sales – a popular gauge of Americans’ spending habits – surged to record highs last month as a new wave of stimulus checks and the relaxing of some economic restrictions boosted activity. The measure is expected to climb even higher in April, but as stimulus dries up, Americans’ spending will settle into a new normal.

Cities have little to counter a permanent drop in metro-area spending. Where the federal government can spend at a persistent and growing deficit, state and local authorities have to balance their budgets. The drop in spending forecasted by the team of economists could force cities to either lift taxes or cut spending and risk more economic harm.

What is challenging for urban economies could be a benefit to how good people are at their jobs. Widespread telecommuting is projected to lift productivity by 4.8%, according to the study. Half of those gains reflect savings in diminished commuting times.

Still, those likely to benefit from more remote work aren’t the ones who need the boost. Employer plans suggest that the extent of telecommuting will rise with education and earnings, the team said. The benefits of persistent work-from-home policies “will be broadly felt but flow mainly to the better educated and highly paid,” they added.

With economic data and experts warning of an uneven economic recovery, such disparities would only exacerbate the hiring and income gaps that plagued the country before the COVID-19 recession.

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