How Hybrid Working From Home Works Out
Hybrid working from home (WFH), whereby employees work a mix of days at home and at work each week, has become dominant for graduate employees in the US. This paper evaluates a randomized control trial on 1612 engineers, marketing and finance employees of a large technology firm that allowed odd birthday employees to WFH on Wednesday and Friday and kept even birthday employees full time in the office. There are four key results. First, WFH reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved self-reported work satisfaction scores, highlighting how employees place a considerable value on this amenity. Second, WFH reduced hours worked on home days but increased it on other work days and the weekend, highlighting how home-working alters the structure of the working week. Third, WFH employees increased individual messaging and group video call communication, even when in the office, reflecting the impact of remote work on working patterns. Finally, while there was no significant impact of WFH on performance ratings or promotions, lines of code written increased by 8%, and employees' self-assessed productivity was up 1.8%, suggesting a small positive impact. Given these benefits for retention, job satisfaction, and productivity, after the experiment ended the firm extended hybrid WFH to the entire company.
We thank discussants at Berkeley, Stanford, USC, UCLA, SAIF-FISF joint seminar at Shanghai, AMES 2022, ESAM 2022, and Luohan Academy. We thank the Smith Richardson Foundation and Toulouse Network for Information Technology for co-funding. Finally, we thank Jennifer Cao, Tracy Zhang, Sherry Ye, Fangyuan Chen, Xing Zhang, Ying He, Junyi Li, Byron Ye from Trip.com and Mert Akan from Stanford for data, advice, and logistical support. No funding was received from Trip.com. James Liang is the co-founder, former CEO, and current Chairman of Trip.com. No other co-author has any financial relationship with Trip. Neither the results nor the paper was pre-screened by anyone. The experiment was registered with the American Economics Association after the experiment had begun (when Bloom and Han were invited to analyze the data) but before any data was analyzed. The experiment was IRB-exempt as the experiment was initiated by Trip.com before Bloom and Han joined the project, and only anonymous data was shared with the Stanford team. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.