How Hybrid Working from Home Works Out

Innovation and Economic Growth, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Networks and Infrastructure and Broadband

Article Snapshot


Nicholas Bloom, Ruobing Han and James Liang


NBER Working Paper No. 30292, 2022


Hybrid working from home (WFH) has greatly increased since the pandemic. Data shows that WFH employees enjoy increased job satisfaction and lower attrition. WFH changes the structure of the work week and messaging behavior.

Policy Relevance

WFH slightly improves productivity.

Main Points

  • “Hybrid” WFH arrangements call for employees to work two or three days at home and the remaining days in the office.
  • For several decades, WFH had been increasing in the United States, but greatly increased following the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Hybrid WFH is the most common approach.
    • In 2022, about 30 percent of working days will be worked from home.
  • WFH has four main benefits.
    • Employees avoid preparing for work and commuting.
    • Home is usually quieter, better for focused activities like coding.
    • WFH allows more flexibility for errands or breaks.
    • WFH can reduce the costs of office space.
  • In 2021 and 2022, a global travel agency with 35,000 employees ran a hybrid WFH trial for 1612 engineers; managers were concerned that employees would underperform while at home.
  • WFH reduced attrition by 35 percent and increased employees' job satisfaction.
    • WFH could address employee stress and concern about excessive working hours.
    • Lower attrition rates reduce firms’ training and hiring costs.
  • WFH reduced hours worked about 80 minutes on home days, but increased hours worked about 30 minutes on other days and on the weekend.
    • On WFH days, employees took advantage of the greater flexibility to accomplish tasks such as caring for children, going to the dentist, or exercising.
    • WFH spreads working time out of the core working day into evenings and weekends.
    • As performance did not suffer despite reduced minutes overall, one may infer that WFH employees were more efficient.
  • Hybrid WFH decreased employees' use of verbal communications even in the office, and increased use of individual messaging and group video calls.
    • Messaging increased most with fellow team members.
    • Office days remain important for employees to network and build ties with others.
  • WFH did not affect performance reviews or promotions, and WFH employees' self-assessed productivity increased.
    • WFH employees wrote more code, mostly on in-office days.
    • WFH has a small positive effect on productivity.
  • Following the trial, the firm decided to implement a hybrid WFH plan for the entire company.

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