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Timely advice

Working from home saves commuting time but there are ways to use that extra time more wisely, says Harvard Business Review article co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges of Cambridge Judge.

Selective focus of an alarm clock and happy worker having coffee break in home office with laptop.

Millions of hours of commuting time are being saved by working at home during the pandemic but many people are not using the extra time wisely, says an article in Harvard Business Review co-authored by Cambridge Judge Business School academic Dr Jochen Menges.

Jochen Menges.
Dr Jochen Menges

Data from 12,000 people across the US and Europe show that the time is instead often “burned on unproductive work and unsatisfying leisure activities” – so the article has several suggestions for using the time more productively, including:

  • Establish a work-home boundary even though you are working at home, rather than sending “just one more email” after 18:00. In Germany, the Feierabend is an evening celebration marking the moment when work is switched off for the day.
  • Use time better through “active” leisure activities such as volunteering or socialising rather than “passive” activities such as watching TV; the research shows passive leisure is less likely to promote happiness.
  • Identify a “must win” for each day rather than a lengthy list of things to do, and complete that must-win task.
  • Block out time away from Zoom reserved for highly important but not urgent work, which helps employees feel more effective and less overwhelmed.

“Around the world, shifting to remote work could save billions of hours, but it’s up to us to spend that time well,” the article concludes. “Now is the time to make thoughtful choices about how we reshape work to get more of what we all crave most: time.”

The article – entitled “How to (actually) save time when you’re working remotely” is co-authored by Lauren C Howe, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Zurich; Dr Ashley Williams, Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School; and Dr Jochen Menges, University Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at Cambridge Judge Business School.