Jan 24, 2023 - Economy

Remote work saved workers 72 minutes per day, study finds

Illustration of a woman reclining on the hands of a clock

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Working from home saved workers around the world an average of 72 minutes in commute time every day in 2021 and 2022. And many of them plowed that time right back into ... working more, according to a new paper published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

State of play: In the U.S., remote work saved an average of 55 minutes a day, per worker, according to the working paper. The researchers looked at two surveys of employees who worked mainly from home at some point during the pandemic, conducted over the past two years.

  • China was the country where people saved the most commute time — 102 minutes on average.

Why it matters: The data underscore that the benefits of remote work flow both to employees and employers.

  • 40% of workers used the time saved to work on either a primary or secondary job.
  • 34% used the time for leisure activities, including exercise or watching TV, and 11% went to caregiving, for children or others.

Zoom out: The value of the commute time saved is even greater than the numbers suggest, write the paper's authors, for three reasons:

  1. Remote work saves money. (No more spending on gas or trains or buses.)
  2. Workers also spend less time grooming and getting ready for work when they're remote.
  3. Working from home gives people more autonomy over their time during the day.

Yes, but: Insert all your anti-remote work arguments here. Do we really need to rehash them?

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