How productive are you during this coronplague shutdown?

Happy International Workers’ Day, comrades!

How productive are you and your co-workers now that everyone has gone to work-from-home?

In my small survey of for-profit enterprises that are still up and running, but dispersed, popular answers are in the 75-80 percent range. (Massachusetts public schools, however, are down closer to 10 percent.)

One manager at a “Big Tech” firm said that he expected productivity to fall as new projects were undertaken, but that 75-80 percent was a good number for the current work. He’s in Silicon Valley where hardly anyone has children. A manager at a “Big Tech” coding plantation here in Cambridge, also said that her team was at 80 percent. “Really?” I asked. “What about the people with children.” Her response: “Oh, they’re useless.”

Readers: What are you experiencing? If companies can truly work at 80 percent without an (expensive) office, can this be boosted up to the point where office space can be cut out? And if remote work does become popular, why will people want to stay in high-tax high-cost mediocre-weather states such as Massachusetts, New York (#1 in overall state and local tax burden), and New Jersey? Why not sell the $1 million 2,000 square-foot house in MA and work from home in a $1 million 6,000 square-foot house in Texas or Florida, while paying nothing in state income tax?


7 thoughts on “How productive are you during this coronplague shutdown?

  1. As you’ve correctly pointed out, there is a vast difference between “working from home” and “working from home while also running an ad hoc elementary school for your kids.”

    The latter is true even if your regular school is still functioning and delivering online lessons. This means they are providing worksheets to the kids and perhaps lightly grading them, with a once a week Zoom call thrown in. All the hard work of teaching and “classroom management” is delivered by the parents.

    Anecdotal data without this “are you running a school” variable removed is pretty much useless.

    For the worker, working from home is a double-edged sword. There are advantages, like no commute and maybe better working conditions, but it also means you may now be competing with talent from lower cost areas, either within the US or outside. People can live much more inexpensively in some parts of the US, Mexico, or India, and so can accept lower wages.

  2. Greetings Comrades! I’ve been able to maintain productivity for myself in MA as I run my business from my home office in ordinary times and there aren’t any children in my household. The biggest issues have centered around my suppliers and wholesalers, some of which operate in states where they are not designated Essential Businesses.

    I produce printed materials and one of my preferred suppliers had a production facility in northern New Jersey shuttered. They shifted ops. to their other plants, which are much farther away, and instead of the free delivery that I used to enjoy, I now have to pay extra on all those materials. I’m negotiating with them about that on several upcoming jobs.

    On small orders, I can usually absorb or pass on to the customer part of the shipping costs but the larger orders cost a lot more, especially if turnaround time is a factor. In my business, 1 *cent* per item makes a difference. Unless I pay exorbitant air freight, I’m looking at three to five extra days for ground shipping. Some clients don’t mind the extra time, but others have gone elsewhere. I’ve lost about 40% of my business as a result. Right now I’m hoping and praying that Phil Murphy will expand the essential businesses in New Jersey and allow that facility to reopen. Your guess is as good as mine.

    I’m in no financial position to even consider leaving. Impossible.

    • Addendum Comrades! The effects ripple out, and it’s been a gigantic shock. One of my clients produces an advertising newspaper for local businesses and I supply some of the glossy inserts, which are their most expensive ads. They’ve been devastated because their customers, in turn, are almost exclusively nonessential businesses in MA: restaurants, retail stores, and other service enterprises. So far, they’ve been able to keep publishing and mailing, but they’ve had to lay off half of their (small) production staff and if the rules don’t ease up soon, what used to be a 30 or 40 page monthly production will wither away. About 90% of their ads. come from businesses that are closed. They’re doing everything they can, but everyone is in limbo. Many of the businesses won’t last another two or three months.

  3. Without 3 hours of commuting, water cooler talk, seeing everyone else slacking, & the CEO speeches, the productivity is definitely higher. Fridays are especially longer when you don’t see everyone else take off at 3pm.

  4. Definitely cannot be very productive with small kids around. Nobody I know is. The only ones having fun are those who don’t need the long commute and don’t have kids.

  5. Hearsay indicates that US schools even in a “nice university district” provide approximately one hour of content per day these days, whereafter the parents have to socialize with their children in unfamiliar ways. This seems not to be appreciated.

    Regarding working from home: perhaps employees should get a cut of the savings that employers are licking their chops about now, rather than provide working space for free? Just a thought.

  6. My productivity is about the same as before, plus I save myself an hour’s commute, so its all good. I shut myself upstairs while my wife runs the home school downstairs by herself. Her productivity is a lot lower though 🙂

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