Why Are We Getting Busier And Busier After Working At Home?

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Novel coronavirus has not only changed our lives, but also changed our attitude towards the workplace. Home office was once an ideal form of work for countless migrant workers. Before the global pandemic, most people who had experienced home office couldn't stop praising its benefits: it eliminated the trouble of commuting, made the commuting time more flexible, and didn't fear the sudden appearance of the boss when fishing

Reporter chenliangxian, Wang Yasai, intern Zhang Jin

However, when the epidemic strikes and working from home becomes a common thing, people feel that this form is not as beautiful as they imagined. Emotional words such as fatigue and sadness have become high-frequency words for many people to describe their home office state.

What makes our evaluation of home office take a 180 ° turn from what we once wanted to get, to what we now discard as useless?

The working hours are longer, but the leaders are still not very happy

Yang Fei, who works in Wangjing, Beijing, started the home office mode in mid April due to the epidemic. He felt that working from home was much more tiring than going to work in the company. "The equipment has been moved to home. For me, working at home is more busy + no weekends."

Although the work pace of Yang Fei's company is relatively fast, he is not the only one who feels that "working from home is more difficult".

In the past may, surging news launched a questionnaire survey on home office work. The results showed that more than half of the respondents worked at home longer than usual during the epidemic; Less than 30% of the people have shorter working hours.

Even the technology companies that are considered the most suitable for telecommuting have failed to solve the problem of working longer hours from home. In September, 2021, nature: human behavior published a paper focusing on the home office situation of 61000 Microsoft employees. The results showed that the home office hours were 10% longer than usual.

This is unexpected to many people.

Before starting to stay at home, many people feel that the saved commuting time can allow them to sleep an extra hour, or have a nice breakfast at leisure, take a nap in bed at noon, and get off work as soon as the screen is turned off at o'clock in the afternoon.

But in fact, living at home eliminates the pain of commuting to and from work, but also blurs the boundaries of commuting. According to our survey, 83.6% of office workers who have experienced extended working hours at home have the problem of "no boundary between work and life", and often work overtime unconsciously.

A white-collar worker in Shenzhen who worked at home in March this year said roast on social media: "the so-called cloud office is 24 hours on call!" Like her, many people know that it's time to get off work, but colleagues and customers keep sending messages, and they can only continue to work online.

Although the working hours of migrant workers have become longer, the boss may not be satisfied because the efficiency of working from home may still be inferior to that of working in the office.

Masako Morikawa, director of Japan's economic and Industrial Research Institute (Rieti), has tracked and studied the home office efficiency of native people during the epidemic for several consecutive years since the beginning of the pandemic. According to his survey, if the efficiency in the office is 100, then in 2020, the average efficiency of people working from home will be only 61.

Morikawa Zhengzhi's survey shows that the efficiency of most home office workers has decreased to varying degrees compared with office work. Image source: voxeu org

Even in the past two years or so since the outbreak of the epidemic, everyone has adjusted their working methods and improved their home office conditions, but Masako Morikawa's statistical results show that by 2021, the average efficiency of the respondents' home office is only 78% of that of the company.

Why is that? Doesn't it mean that home office will bring higher job satisfaction and efficiency?

Many people are not ready for home office

Although the outbreak of the disease has brought a lot of software or hardware for home office work in the past two years, there are still some work links that make people feel inconvenient online, among which the communication link is the one most roast about.

Jiang Cai, a designer working in an Internet company, mentioned in an interview with surging news that during her home office work, her biggest headache was communication: "we are not afraid to optimize 20 UI problems a day, but it is really time-consuming and laborious to discuss some details online."

Many people have similar experiences. When working from home, they miss the days when they can talk to their colleagues when they turn their chairs. What I want to say may not be very important, but may be trivial things. "For example, I suddenly forgot one parameter. I just asked it casually in the office, but it seemed unnecessary to ask it online," Jiang Cai said.

For those jobs with many communication links, home office is really a nightmare. By analyzing the situation of the interviewees, we found that the proportion of home office hours in posts with a lot of communication work is much higher than that in other posts.

Yang Fei mentioned in an interview that some of his colleagues especially like to make phone calls and send long strings of voice messages. They have to communicate in this way no matter what big or small matters, which makes him very troubled. The communication barriers after working at home not only reduce the efficiency of communication and cooperation, but also make many people reluctant to communicate with colleagues too much.

The above-mentioned research on tracking Microsoft employees' home office work found that many people became more isolated after their work became online, and even within the business team, they became "less interconnected". This is not good news for the company, because it means that there are fewer opportunities for colleagues to share information and ideas.

In addition to the soaring communication costs, many people's home office efficiency will be greatly reduced, which is also related to too many distractions at home.

Cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes and mopping the floor... Although each of these household chores is not too heavy, it has scattered a lot of energy. Especially if there are children at home, it is more difficult to concentrate on work.

A mother mentioned on her microblog that when she first started working at home, her child was very uncomfortable. Several times when she held a conference call, the child would come to beg for a hug, and she had to leave the meeting temporarily.

In addition to these unavoidable household chores, home, as our warmest harbor, has many temptations.

Some people say that they are always distracted when they work at home. They eat fruits and brush videos. They sit quietly in front of the computer and write plans for no more than 3 hours. They rely on the evening to make up for their progress. "Travel around in the daytime and cook oil to fill the crotch at night".

Others stayed in bed while working at home. According to our statistics, 15.4% of the respondents will set the bed as their own office area, and 16.9% will work on the balcony, which is very comfortable.

After the epidemic, will home office leave us

Despite the bad reviews of home office during the epidemic, it is undeniable that this flexible form of work is still attractive. For example, the report on the development of remote home office in China released by Zhaopin and the National Development Research Institute of Peking University in May this year shows that home office has been highly popular among job seekers since the outbreak.

Moreover, it should be noted that those negative comments are actually mixed with quite a lot of dissatisfaction with the abnormal life brought about by the epidemic. "I want to buy online, go shopping, sing K, watch movies, travel, and go fishing!" A microblog that refused to work at home wrote.

When investigating people's attitude towards home office, we found that, unlike the experience of being forced to work at home due to the epidemic, most people who have experienced home office for other reasons have given high praise to it.

Morikawa Zhengzhi's survey results also showed that only 10.9% of the employees who worked at home during the epidemic said that they would no longer choose to work at home after the epidemic ended, but the decision was not in their hands. In the same survey, more than 50% of the companies said they would end telecommuting after the outbreak.

After all, for many leaders, the home office experience may not be very good.

"After working at home, it is obvious that the number of times the team leader @ people in the work group has become more frequent." Yang Fei said in an interview with surging news. He felt that this was caused by the anxiety after losing control. "In the company, the leaders thought you were fishing occasionally at work; at home, the leaders thought you were fishing occasionally at work."

During the epidemic, some companies upgraded their monitoring methods for employees working at home. In May this year, it was revealed that a company required its employees to install monitoring software, so that they could automatically take screenshots every 5 minutes. If the screenshots were not taken 89 times a day, they would be deemed as absenteeism.

But it is not a company that has not actively embraced home office.

In February this year, Ctrip, an online travel platform, announced that the company would implement a mixed office system, allowing it to work at home two days a week; In April, abiying, a home stay platform, began to allow employees to work remotely permanently

However, the company is willing to work remotely and has its own small abacus. Our survey results show that, compared with higher productivity, leaders who support home office pay more attention to other benefits.

After experiencing the mixed office mode, the turnover rate of Ctrip employees decreased by about one third; After announcing the shift to telecommuting, abiying began to reduce the office area in a large area.

It seems that even if the new global pandemic ends in the future, flexible office will continue to develop.

The biggest obstacle may still be the unclear boundary between work and life when working at home. After all, no one wants to work harder at home.

At the request of the interviewee, Yang Fei and Jiang Cai were pseudonyms

Questionnaire description

The questionnaire was launched through wechat, today's headlines and surging news. The launch time is from May 19 to May 29, 2022. A total of 1651 people participated in the questionnaire, and 1539 valid questionnaires. Among them, men accounted for 49.8% and women 50.2%; The post-90s account for 55.2%, the post-80s account for 35.2%, the post-00s account for 5.1%, and the rest account for 4.5%; Shanghai residents accounted for 29.0%, Beijing residents 21.6%, Guangzhou residents 6.7%, Shenzhen residents 6.4%, and the rest 36.3%; Ordinary employees accounted for 62.8%, grass-roots / middle / senior managers accounted for 36.6%, and the rest accounted for 0.6%.

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