Andrew G Haldane: Is home working good for you?

Speech by Mr Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director and Chief Economist of the Bank of England, at the Engaging Business Summit and Autumn Lecture, 14 October 2020.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
26 October 2020

I am delighted to be speaking at this "Engaging Business" Summit, at such a critical time for business, for workers and for the wider economy. The focus of today, and the excellent background report, is happiness in the workplace. This is an issue in which everyone has a stake. It is particularly pertinent with many people having had to adapt their ways of working as a result of the Covid crisis. Indeed, this year may well have seen the largest shift in working practices ever seen, certainly the largest in modern times.

That begs a host of questions about the impact of these changes in working practices on workers, businesses, communities and the wider economy. For economists like me, it raises questions about the impact on productivity and output in the workplace. As arid as these concepts can sometimes sound, they are crucial for shaping how this crisis will affect incomes and living standards over the medium-term.

Equally important are issues of well-being, not least given understandable concerns about how the virus and lockdown are affecting our mental health. The background report for this event is timely in providing some early answers to these questions. Taken at face value, its conclusions are encouraging. Workplace happiness is, in general, higher and many are feeling a greater sense of workplace empowerment.