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Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment

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

Abstract

About 10% of US employees now regularly work from home (WFH), but there are concerns this can lead to "shirking from home." We report the results of a WFH experiment at CTrip, a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency. Call center employees who volunteered to WFH were randomly assigned to work from home or in the office for 9 months. Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick-days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment). Home workers also reported improved work satisfaction and experienced less turnover, but their promotion rate conditional on performance fell. Due to the success of the experiment, CTrip rolled-out the option to WFH to the whole firm and allowed the experimental employees to re-select between the home or office. Interestingly, over half of them switched, which led to the gains from WFH almost doubling to 22%. This highlights the benefits of learning and selection effects when adopting modern management practices like WFH.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1194.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1194

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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

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Cited by:
  1. Nicholas Bloom & Christos Genakos & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2011. "Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp1109, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Raymond P. Guiteras & B. Kelsey Jack, 2014. "Incentives, Selection and Productivity in Labor Markets: Evidence from Rural Malawi," NBER Working Papers 19825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alex Bryson & George MacKerron, 2013. "Are You Happy While You Work?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1187, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia & Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2014. "Self-rewards and personal motivation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 151-167.
  5. Tom Chang & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Tal Gross & Matthew J. Neidell, 2014. "Particulate Pollution and the Productivity of Pear Packers," NBER Working Papers 19944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ajay Agrawal & John Horton & Nicola Lacetera & Elizabeth Lyons, 2013. "Digitization and the Contract Labor Market: A Research Agenda," NBER Working Papers 19525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hyejin Ku, 2014. "Fair Trade in the Fields of Florida: The Impact of the Penny-Per-Pound on Tomato Pickers," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1416, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  8. Michael Beckmann & Thomas Cornelissen, 2014. "Self-Managed Working Time and Employee Effort: Microeconometric Evidence," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 636, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  9. Dutcher, E. Glenn & Saral, Krista Jabs, 2012. "Does Team Telecommuting Affect Productivity? An Experiment," MPRA Paper 41594, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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