Julia lives in Rubí and works for a company that has offices in the center of Barcelona. Before the pandemic, she did real balances to drop the children off at school, chain 40 minutes of public transport and stand on time in front of the computer. But the covid and teleworking arrived. Since then, she has not set foot on the company’s facilities again, since she carries out her entire working day remotely.

This has allowed him to reconcile better in the morning, save on unproductive journeys and establish a comfortable work environment, without noise or interruptions. Julia is happy with teleworking, but she has been feeling more tired than usual for months, at the same time that she is haunted by the ghost of demotivation.

A possible cause of what is happening to Julia is found in a study carried out by researchers Michael Gibbs, Friederike Mengel and Christoph Siemroth, in which the behavior of more than 10,000 employees of a large technology company is analyzed, reaching the conclusion that teleworking increases the hours of dedication. Thanks to the use of software that monitored all the movements of the sample studied, the authors verified that the hours worked at home were 30% higher than the pre-pandemic period, with a significant increase in tasks performed outside working hours.

These data are consistent with the perception that many professionals have about their performance when teleworking, summarized in a phrase that has resounded in many conversations lately: “I work more from home than from the office”. And indeed it is so. But the problem is found in the efficiency of this effort, since the same study ensures that production per hour is reduced by up to 20% when we work online. In other words: we are less productive.

The research work points out some factors that cause this situation, with special mention to the overdose of telematic meetings, derived from the little experience in coordinating remote teams, and which ends up saturating the agendas, always to the detriment of quality work. Likewise, interruptions of a domestic nature can also undermine efficiency, since, for example, the study shows that teleworkers with children need 20 more minutes a day to complete the same tasks that they did in the office.

On the other hand, the professor and popularizer Ferran Ramón-Cortés has just published A 1,778 km away, a book of reflection on the challenges linked to online communication and its rapid generalization as a result of the pandemic. In this sense, he explains that neuroscience has already discovered why a day of teleworking causes so much fatigue, and that is that, among other things, in telematic meetings the elements of non-verbal communication that the subconscious usually captures are not present, as well that we are forced to redouble the efforts of conscious attention.

Ramón-Cortés also warns that abusing online communication in an organization can foster individualism and isolation, penalizing relationship building and collaborative creation. The author himself assures that “we do not feel the same involvement sharing a screen as sharing a coffee”.

Julia has just been told that she will no longer telework all week, but that she will have to go to the office for three days. The morning rush, stress and train journeys will return, but she has a feeling that everything will be better.