What Has Covid-19 Taught Us About Remote Work?

What I've Been Up To

On March 8, this newsletter was recommended by Patrick Collison in an interview with Noah Smith. Following that, the number of subscribers to this newsletter did this:

So thanks to Noah and Patrick, and welcome to the more than half of you who are new readers!

For better or for worse, there isn’t a normal post this week though. For a talk I gave at the NorthernLands3 conference yesterday I’ve been working on a roundup of academic research on remote work in 2020 and since it’s not primarily about innovation I decided not to send it out with the newsletter. But if you are interested, I posted the extended version on medium at What has covid-19 taught us about remote work?

I draw six main lessons from the explosion of remote work studies that have emerged since March of last year:

  1. Pre-covid studies of remote work have held up

  2. Pre-covid beliefs about remote work were wrong but hard to correct

  3. Concerns about social interaction and serendipity remain

  4. Remote work will improve over time

  5. Remote work will be more common after covid-19 subsides

  6. The new equilibrium will have winners and losers but probably raise overall welfare

If that sounds interesting, check it out! You might also like the following older posts on the relationship between physical proximity and innovation:

Lastly, if remote work is not your thing, you might also like this May 2020 post, arguing the profit motive is pretty effective at pulling forth new innovations, so long as they don’t require a lot of fundamental research: Is there a price for a covid-19 vaccine?