Remote workers are ‘choosing to spread work out’—and golf courses are benefiting

Remote workers are ‘choosing to spread work out’—and golf courses are benefiting

Remote workers are taking a cue from college students. Rather than working 9 to 5, they’re spreading work out to off hours. That means that late afternoons, for instance, are fair game for doing something fun. If you’re planning to work later that night, after all, why not?

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One beneficiary of the shift to remote work, it appears, is golf courses. According to Stanford researchers, working from home “has powered a huge boom in golfing.”

The researchers, Nick Bloom and Alex Finan, studied data from the company Inrix for 3,400-plus golf courses and shared their findings in a recent research paper entitled “How Working from Home boosted Golf.”

Comparing Wednesday in 2022 to the same day in 2019, they found a 143% increase in golfers playing more golf on that day, and a 278% jump in them playing on that day in the mid-afternoon.

The most likely explanation, they write, is that “employees are golfing as breaks while working from home.”

But that doesn’t mean productivity takes a hit, they note. “If employees make up the time later, “then this does not reduce productivity. Indeed, national productivity during/post pandemic has been strong.”

And, they note, the shift helps golf courses as well: “Golf courses are getting higher usage by spreading playing across the day and week, avoiding weekend and pre/post work peak-loading. This will raise ‘golf productivity’—the number of golf courses played (and revenue raised) per course.”

But, Bloom noted in a tweet on March 11, fully remote work-from-home “is declining. Some jobs are going hybrid as bosses drag employees back 2 or 3 days a week.”

As Fortune reported in January, more CEOs, including at Disney and Starbucks, are demanding that workers start returning to office.

In the long run, Bloom estimates, hybrid work-from-home arrangements will be 50% of jobs, fully in-person 40%, and fully-remote 10%.

As a result of shift, he says, the economy has been “twisted” in some ways. He noted in a tweet on Thursday: “Office use, public transport and city center retail has shrunk into Tue-Thurs, generating peak-load problems. Leisure, sport and suburban shopping has spread out to the whole week, easing their pre-pandemic Sat-Sun peak-loading.”

Not all bosses are against the idea of employees who work remotely taking some time off for recreation during working hours.

Stephanie Cunningham, a 27-year-old marketer, told the New York Times, that her employer is supportive of her signing in earlier or later in the day to free up time during working hours for other things, like getting her hair done or running errands: “My boss allows me to take time for myself. As long as I get my work done.”

Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary recently said on CNN that managers need to change their strategy given the shift to remote work, noting that a “new generation” of employee has never worked in an office.

He said 44% of the employees across his venture portfolio work remotely but that it “hasn’t changed anything” in terms of productivity.

“You say to somebody, ‘Look, you gotta get this done by next Friday at noon.’ You don’t really care when they do it…as long as it gets done.”

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