Monday, 2 November 2020

WFH and Commuting Time Savings in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a shift to working-from-home (WFH). Over the course of May, July, and August 2020, 10,000 Americans were surveyed and these were aged 20-64 who earned at least $20,000 in 2019: 37.1% worked from home, 34.7% worked on business premises, and the rest were not working. These figures imply that WFH accounts for 52.3% of employment in the pandemic economy, which is similar to other estimates. By way of comparison, American Time Use Survey data imply a 5.2% WFH rate among employed persons before the pandemic.

To calculate aggregate time savings from increased WFH, the data gathered from two national surveys determine the number of commuting workers and average commuting times. They find that commuting time dropped by 62.4 million hours per day. Cumulating these daily savings from mid-March to mid-September, the aggregate time savings is more than 9 billion hours.

The accompanying figure illustrates that people spent over one-third of their extra time on their primary job, and nearly one-third on childcare, outdoor leisure and a second job, combined.


Unlike what some property gurus suggest, WFH is here to stay. Most companies have began implementing SOPs for WFH. Google and Microsoft expect employees to WFH until 2021, at least. Many employees do find this arrangement flexible and suitable to their needs. Future young talent may demand that WFH as a key requirement to joining a company. What is the implication?

Human resource teams will have to devise new flexible arrangements, office space will diminish, retail outlets will close – since there are less office employees at lunch times, public transport numbers will decline and private vehicles into CBD may drop as well.

All that means is property, food, transport sectors will be impacted. Covid-19 has been disruptive and will continue to do so.



60 million fewer commuting hours per day: How Americans use time saved by working from home, Jose Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom and Steven J Davis, Becker, Friedman Institute, Sept 18, 2020

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