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Research Department Working Papers

Work from Home Before and After the COVID-19 Outbreak

No. 2017 (Revised February 2021)
Alexander Bick, Adam Blandin and Karel Mertens

Abstract: Based on novel survey data, we document the evolution of commuting behavior in the U.S. over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work from home (WFH) increased sharply and persistently after the outbreak, and much more so among some workers than others. Using theory and evidence, we argue that the observed heterogeneity in WFH transitions is consistent with potentially more permanent changes to work arrangements in some occupations, and not just temporary substitution in response to greater health risks. Consistent with increased WFH adoption, many more – especially higher-educated – workers expect to WFH in the future.


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