One of the most striking responses to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sudden shift of around half the workforce to working at home.
In many cases, this was combined with an equally sudden shift to home schooling.
Contrary to what might have been expected, working from home was one part of the pandemic response that went remarkably smoothly. Most kinds of office work continued almost as if nothing had changed.
Discussion of the crisis has mostly worked on the assumption that a return to something like the pre-crisis “normal” is both inevitable and desirable.
But the unplanned experiment we have been forced to undertake suggests we might have stumbled upon a massive opportunity for a microeconomic reform, yielding benefits far greater than those of the hard-fought changes of the late 20th century.
The average worker spends an hour on commuting every work day. Remarkably, this is a figure which has remained more or less stable since Neolithic times, a finding known as Marhetti’s Law. (The same observation has been attributed to Bertrand Russell.)
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