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Daily Archives: December 30, 2020

Does working from home make employees more productive?

The Economist [paywall] – “Yes, according to new research, and they should be paid accordingly. Remote working, relatively uncommon before the pandemic, has gone mainstream. Before covid-19 roughly 5% of Americans worked from home. By May the figure had risen to 62%. By October 40% were still shunning the office. Both employers and employees have grumbled that the shift to home-working has been disruptive. But according to new research by Natalia Emanuel and Emma Harrington, two doctoral students in economics at Harvard, firms may be better off…” From the paper  “Working” Remotely? Selection, Treatment, and the Market Provision of Remote Work:

“Why was remote work so rare prior to Covid-19’s lockdown? One possibility is that working remotely reduces productivity. Another is that remote work attracts unobservably less productive workers. In our setting of call-center workers at a Fortune 500 retailer, two natural experiments reveal positive productivity effects of remote work. When Covid-19closed down the retailer’s on-site call-centers, a difference-in-difference design suggests the transition from on-site to remote work increased the productivity of formerly on-site workers by 8% to 10% relative to their already remote peers. Similarly, when previously on-site workers took up opportunities to go remote in 2018-2019, their productivity rose by 7%. These two natural experiments also reveal negative selection into remote work.While all workers were remote due to Covid-19, those who were hired into remote jobs were 12% less productive than those hired into on-site jobs. Extending remote opportunities to on-site workers similarly attracted less productive workers to on-site jobs. Our model allows us to characterize the counterfactual in which remote workers were not adversely selected. Without adverse selection, the retailer would have hired 57% more re-mote workers and worker surplus from remote work would have been 32% greater. Given the central role of selection, Covid-19’s effect on remote work will persist if the lockdown disproportionately causes more productive workers to be willing to work remotely.”

14 Million Doses Shipped, 2.6 Million Injected: The Lag in U.S. Vaccines

The New York Times –  “The distribution of vaccines in the United States has gotten off to a slower-than-expected start, federal health officials acknowledged in a news conference on Wednesday, though they also voiced confidence that the pace would accelerate in the coming weeks. As of Wednesday, more than 14 million doses of the Pfizer… Continue Reading

The Most Dangerous People on the Internet in 2020

Wired: “For many of us, 2020 has been a very dangerous year. Alongside the usual headline grabbers like wars, violent crime, and terrorism, we also faced more insidious, creeping threats: a pandemic that has claimed more than 300,000 American lives, and the lives of 1.5 million people worldwide, thanks in part to waves of viral… Continue Reading

US Government Policy and Supporting Positions (Plum Book), 2020

United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions (Plum Book), 2020: “Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate and the House. The Plum Book is used to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government.”… Continue Reading

Here are the top tech trends of 2021, according to 30+ top experts

Fast Company – “During the year ahead, technology will help us emerge from the pandemic in ways big and small, obvious and surprising. As we come to the end of a crazy 2020, many of us are suffering from COVID-19 exhaustion. But as two vaccines begin their rollouts, we’ve also begun to visualize what post-pandemic… Continue Reading

The U.S. Internet Is Being Starved of Its Potential

EFF: “Over a year ago, EFF raised the desperate need for the United States to have a universal fiber infrastructure plan in order to ensure that all Americans can obtain access to 21st century communications technology. Since then, we’ve produced technical research showing why fiber is vastly superior to all the alternative last mile broadband… Continue Reading

COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress

CRS report via LC. COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress, Updated December 30, 2020: “Some observers argue the COVID-19 pandemic could be a world-changing event with potentially profound and long-lasting implications for the international security environment and the U.S. role in the world. Other observers are more… Continue Reading