Distributed service sector productivity – Noahpinion

https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/distributed-service-sector-productivity

Robert Gordon, the strongest proponent of the idea of technological stagnation, doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would be inclined to agree. But he does! Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview:

This shift to remote working has got to improve productivity because we’re getting the same amount of output without commuting, without office buildings, and without all the goods and services associated with that. We can produce output at home and transmit it to the rest of the economy electronically, whether it’s an insurance claim or medical consultation. We’re producing what people really care about with a lot less input of things like office buildings and transportation. In a profound sense, the movement to working from home is going to make everyone who is capable of working from home more productive…It’s very possible that the transition to working from home – once we get the rest of the economy sorted out – will give us a sizeable jump in the annual growth of productivity


Areas Noah “brainstorm some ways that production could be reorganized around remote work technologies like Zoom and Slack in ways that substantially increase productivity, especially in those difficult service industries.”

  1. Work-from-home
  2. Location arbitrage
  3. Task outsourcing
  4. Improved outsourcing managemnt
  5. Efficient time managment
  6. Telehealth and distance education

Keep in mind this was not real remote work

When talking about remote work and what we learned this last year remember this was not the normal life remote work.

Work from home was ushered in not by choice but a government mandate to save lives. our whole lives were upended. These conditions are not the right ones to judge if remote work is working or not.

People had kids at home, no one in the household has seen their friends for ages, they worried about loved ones who are in the risk zone.

That’s not remote work, that’s a pandemic response. It was not voluntary, but a move to keep society going.

When we get back to the new normal we have agency and the opportunity to work remotely rather than having it as a tool to suppress a pandemic.

Remote work has become a catch-all term for flexibility. Flexibility to pick up the kids from school and work in the evening. Take a doctor’s appointment during the classical work hours. That’s all been missing.

This was wartime remote work. Not peacetime.

Let’s keep that in mind when y’all are making HR policies.