Working from home as the new normal?

By Harry Garretsen and Janka Stoker *

(exechange) — February 1, 2021 — Assuming that the Covid-19 crisis will start to recede at some point in 2021 thanks to the various lockdown measures and the arrival of vaccines, the question is to what extent this will also apply to the other historically unique shock that hit most firms across the world from early 2020 onwards: working from home (WFH).

Literally overnight, a massive organizational change was introduced in many countries.

The data vary by country and by sector, but since early spring of last year, most of the work suddenly had to be done from home. When the Covid-19 virus will be under control and hence working from home is no longer mandatory, but again, like in pre-corona times, an option, what will be left of this unprecedented organizational change?

Using survey data for a sample of U.S. workers, new research by Barrero, Bloom and Davis (1) makes clear that workers do not want to return to the “old normal” and strongly prefer that the regime of WFH is maintained to some extent.

Consequently, CEOs and the leadership of organizations, in general, should start thinking now about the pros and cons of future WFH and the investments needed for a successful implementation of WFH in post-corona times.

(1) Barrero, J.M., Bloom. N., and Davis, S.J. (2020), “Why Working From Home Will Stick”, Becker Friedman Institute Working Paper, December 2020, University of Chicago,

* The writers are professors at the University of Groningen and directors of “In the LEAD.”

Editor’s note: This is a guest post.