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Working or shirking?

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Author Info

  • Nicholas Bloom
  • James Liang
  • John Roberts
  • Zhichun Jenny Ying

Abstract

Over 10% of US employees now regularly work from home (WFH), but there is widespread skepticism over its impact highlighted by phrases like "shirking from home". We report the results of a WFH experiment at Ctrip, a 13,000 employee NASDAQ listed Chinese multinational. Call center employees who volunteered to WFH were randomly assigned to work from home or in the office for 9 months. Work from home led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9.5% is from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick-days) and 3.5% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment). Home workers also reported improved work satisfaction and their job attrition rate fell by 50%. After the experiment, the firm rolled the program out to all employees, letting them choose home or office working. Interestingly, only half of the volunteer group decided to work at home, with the other half changing their minds in favor of office working. After employees were allowed to choose where to work, the performance impact of WFH more than doubled, highlighting the benefits of choice alongside modern management practices like home working.

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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/cp384.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance with number 384.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepcnp:384

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/centrepiece/

Related research

Keywords: working from home; organization; productivity; field experiment; and China;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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