The effects of working from home
Jan van Ours is Professor of Applied Economics, with focus on Labour, Health, and Well-Being, at Erasmus School of Economics. On radio Rijnmond he speaks about the ins and outs of working from home.
It is difficult for the economist to say whether working from home will be a lasting consequence of the Corona outbreak. Nobody knows how the crisis will develop, but van Ours thinks it is obvious that we will see working from home more and more often in the near future. For many jobs, it also appears quite feasible to monitor labour productivity remotely. For example, by checking customer contacts, the number of lectures recorded or the number of products made. For an employer, it is no longer necessary to be on top of this process all the time.
According to van Ours, everything liquefies under pressure, which makes us a lot more creative with one another. People come up with solutions for matters of which one was not aware that a solution was needed. In education, for example, we knew that a lot could be done online, but actually doing so was never a necessity. Because of the crisis, we can now see what we are capable of, says van Ours.
Positive and negative impacts
Working from home has both positive and negative sides. There is less travel and meetings seem to be more productive. According to van Ours, people only say something if there really is something to report. Chatting is a lot less common. In the long run, however, it is disadvantageous not being able to see colleagues physically. In sectors where ideas are generated and creative solutions are devised, looking at someone and interaction is important, says van Ours. In a physical meeting it is easier to respond more easily, while online body posture and facial expression are partly eliminated.
Finally, a balance is needed between work and leisure time. The days at home become monotonous and self-discipline is required. It is tempting to work more hours if you can schedule everything yourself. Jan van Ours himself now also works from home and although he likes it very much, he emphasizes that this is under current circumstances. According to him it is difficult to estimate how working from home will be without the coercion.