That’s the takeaway from a research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which analysed data from the American Time Use Survey to see what US workers spent their time on when they weren’t stuck on a crowded train or locked in traffic. The main findings: Employees spent fewer total hours working and substantially more on sleep and leisure.
Even as many companies coax their staff back into the office, about 15% still work entirely remotely and 30% have ahybrid schedule, according to research by Stanford University professor Nick Bloom. While employees might be deploying what was commuting time to work instead, the researchers found that overall time spent working fell as people substituted other activities throughout the day, likelaundry or exercise.
“The findings lend credence to the various reports on employees’ preferences for flexible work arrangements, given that cutting the commute enables people to spend their time on other activities, such as childcare or leisure,” the report said. “This added benefit of working from home —for those who want it — will be an important consideration for the future of flexible work arrangements.”
Younger workers were more likely to spend more time on leisure, including going to bars and restaurants or working out, while older workers were more inclined to handle domestic tasks like cooking, cleaning and takingcare of kids. All groups got more sleep — roughly an extra hour a day. That finding alone is good news for the wellbeing of American workers, since chronic sleep deprivation contributes to a litany of serious health issues.
Alexia Cambon, a research leader of consulting firm Gartner’s HR practice, said that employees working fewer hours doesn’t mean they’re being less productive. “If you spend 9-to-5, or however many hours a day you’re working, on super energy-draining activities, it doesn’t really matter how many hours you log — you’re not going to be high-performing and you’re not going to be engaged.”