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Study: Americans reclaim 60 million commuting hours in remote-work perk, get more sleep

Oct. 18, 2022 Updated Tue., Oct. 18, 2022 at 7:23 p.m.

With the shift to remote work American workers have spent fewer total hours working and substantially more on sleep and leisure, research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found.  (Tribune News Service)
With the shift to remote work American workers have spent fewer total hours working and substantially more on sleep and leisure, research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found. (Tribune News Service)
By Jo Constantz Bloomberg

Americans who are working from home have reclaimed 60 million hours that they used to spend commuting to an office each day. They’re now using that time to get more sleep instead.

That’s the takeaway from research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey to see what U.S. workers spent their time on when they weren’t stuck on a crowded train or locked in traffic. The main findings: Employees spent fewer 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 a hybrid 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, like laundry 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 child care or leisure,” the report’s authors wrote. “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 taking care of kids. All groups got more sleep – roughly an extra hour a day. That finding alone is good news for the well-being of American workers, since chronic sleep deprivation contributes to a litany of serious health issues.

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