We Might Be Happier Working Under COVID

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There are almost no silver linings to a global pandemic. Everything that might seem a little nice is tainted by the knowledge that there's a terrifying disease out there and not many ways to really fight it. All that said, something weird is happening to a subset of workers: They're happier.

That's what researchers from Switzerland and Germany have found in a newly published study. Knowledge workers who can work from home are reporting a better work-life balance, more engagement with their work, and decreased signs of burnout, versus one year earlier. Rather than getting more stressed out by their jobs, these Swiss and German workers are actually a little better off than they were in the Before Times.

Of course, these improvements are unevenly distributed. About 1 in 4 have a child under 20 living at home, and for 17 percent of respondents, childcare work has increased since the pandemic began. (Men were a slight majority of respondents, 54 percent to 46 percent women.) That said, even these results may be slightly depressed. "As the world has gone awry, [these respondents] probably don't really trust their own positive feelings," said study leader Rebecca Brauchli.

We've seen lots of research about the positive benefits of increased autonomy and flexibility at work. An increased ability to work from home has been one of our most-wanted features of the office of the future. If that's the case, it looks like one more finger of the monkey's paw that got us here has curled down.