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A few months ago I was giving a talk about the future of work. When I quotedsome standard examples of how productivity has risen with remote working, a polite scepticism crossed several faces in the audience. Afterwards, someexecutives revealed their despair. “I love my staff,” said one. “But they’re taking far longer to get things done at home.”


This is not a fashionable view. Some corporate CEOs genuinely feel that greater flexibility makes everyone stronger — and many tech companies are happy to let coders, for example, dictate their own terms. Elsewhere, with various companies facing lawsuits for having had the temerity to ask staff to come back to the office two days a week, CEOs are tiptoeing around the question of return, trying to tempt staff back with cocktail hours. But as the race for talent sweeps all before it, they are perhaps setting unrealisticexpectations.


After the talk, I looked again at the research on productivity. In the early days of Covid, working from home looked like a win-win. Studies of when people werelogging on and off suggested that many were maintaining or even increasing hours. One 2020 survey of American office workers found respondents reporting that both managers and subordinates were more productive. But the picture has since become more nuanced. A study of 10,000 skilled professionals at a large Asian tech company found that the productivity of those working from home fellby up to a fifth: many were working longer hours, but output fell, partly because they were just having more meetings. Japan’s Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry suggests that working from home has reduced productivity by almost a third, in a nation which is not used to it. More recently, a small Cambridge study found that UK workers spent less time on paid work during the lockdowns.

那一次演说后,我又搜索了相关工作效率的科学研究。在新冠肺炎疫情初期,在家工作看上去是互利共赢的。有关员工登陆和撤出时间格式的研究表明,很多人的工作时间沒有变,有些人乃至提升了。2020年一项专门针对英国公司办公室员工的调研中,采访企业汇报称,管理人员和一般员工的工作效率都改善了。但自此状况越来越更为繁杂。在一家亚洲地区大中型科技公司对于一万名具有娴熟专业技能的专业人员进行的调查发觉,这些在家工作的专业人员,她们的工作效率降低力度较多做到了五分之一:很多人花在工作上的時间更久了,但实现的工作量却降低了,一部分因素是她们要开大量的会。日本经济发展产业链研究室(Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry)明确提出,在家工作使工作效率降低了近三分之一,而工作效率下降这样的事情在日本十分少见。最近,英国剑桥大学(Cambridge)的一项小规模纳税人研究发现,在为解决新冠肺炎疫情而执行封禁期内,法国员工花在有薪工作上的時间降低了。

The pandemic has spawned a huge literature focused on employee wellbeing, but rather less about the wellbeing of the customers and organisations they serve. In 1970s Britain, it was often said that nationalised industries such as British Rail were run for the benefit of their staff, not their customers. In parts of the publicsector, it feels like we are back there again. This summer, half a million driving licences were delayed when staff went on strike after being asked to return to the office, and in September there were still 50,000 lorry and bus drivers awaitinglicences that are critical to a functioning economy. Over at the Foreign Office, the whistleblower Raphael Marshall’s description of working in a largely empty building while trying to evacuate people from Afghanistan was a devastating critique of what he called the FCO’s “deliberate drive to prioritise ‘work-life balance’”.

肺炎疫情激发了大量阐述员工褔利的参考文献,而阐述顾客及其顾主褔利的参考文献却不过多。在上世纪70时代的法国,大家常说,像英国铁路(British Rail)这类国企,是为员工、而不是顾客开的。在公共行政的一部分行业,这类场景好像已经重蹈覆辙。今年夏天,承担派发驾驶证的单位员工在被规定重回公司办公室工作后出故障,造成五十万人不可以立即取得驾驶证,到上年9月的情况下,依然有五万名大货车和公交车驾驶员在等待领到驾驶证,而她们的工作对经济发展的常规运转尤为重要。在英国外交部(FCO),“吹哨人”拉斐尔•马歇尔(Raphael Marshall)叙述了在法国从巴基斯坦撤出工作人员时,她们在中国外交部几近空落落的高楼里工作的场景,剧烈地指责了英国外交部“力争把‘工作与日常生活的均衡’放到主要部位”的作法。

In the private sector, polls continue to show that a majority of us want to keep working from home, at least part of the time. But what if it isn’t actually that good for us, or those we work for? Octavius Black, co-founder and CEO of MindGym, believes the Great Resignation is being driven partly by remote working, which has weakened workplace ties and made us forget what we liked about our jobs. Working from home is “dissipating the social capital that you need to be a successful, complex organisation” he says. “You have to build the right psychologicalcontract.” Sir John Timpson, chair of the high street firm Timpson, believes that even if we think we want to stay at home, we are social animals who “flourish in the company of other people”. Firms that adopt hybrid models in which the office is an occasional meeting place will be at a “competitive disadvantage”, he warns.

在利益相关者,连续不断的调研表明,大家中的大部分人都期待能再次在家工作,最少能有一部分時间在家工作。但假如在家工作对大家——或是大家所法律效力的机构——实际上并非那麼有益处呢?MindGym创办人兼CEO弗特塔维厄斯•赛尔号迪恩(Octavius Black)觉得,“大离职”(Great Resignation)的浪潮产生的因素之一是远程工作,由于远程工作消弱了初入职场联络,使大家忘记了我们为什么喜欢自身的工作。在家工作这类方式“去除开取得成功的繁杂机构所必须拥有的民间资本”,他说道,“你务必搭建合理的组织承诺”。零售商Timpson老总罗伯特•廷普森爵土(Sir John Timpson)觉得,就算大家觉得自身要想呆在家里,大家也是社会动物,“和其他人在一起才有精神面貌”。针对有一些企业推行混和办公室方式,把公司办公室做为有时候用于召开会议的地区,他警示说,那样的企业“在市场竞争中会处在缺点”。

That certainly chimes with me. My workplaces have always been crucial to my sense of belonging. According to Ashley Williams, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, humans hunger for casual interactions — the hallway conversation, the chat with the barista — which let us vent anger or expressgratitude. I have certainly found myself talking rather too animatedly to shop staff, taxi drivers and fellow queuers. Williams argues that remote working may end up undermining productivity, because “we’re overscheduling our calendar to compensate for the lack of social interaction”.

这毫无疑问与自己的状况相符合。我工作的场地自始至终和我的信任感密切相关。哈佛大学商学院(Harvard Business School)终身教授阿什莉•威廉斯(Ashley Williams)觉得,人们期盼非正规的的沟通交流,例如在走廊里遇上了聊几句,在咖啡厅和服务生瞎扯,借此机会宣泄怒火或表述感谢之情。我的确发觉自身太过热切地和店铺职员、出租车驾驶员、一起排长队的人闲聊。威廉斯觉得,远程工作或许会造成工作高效率降低,由于“大家会把自己的日程排出去过度满满登登,为此填补人际交往的缺少”。

When employees protest that they are working their socks off, but bosses fear output is falling, who is right? Perhaps both. Studies have found that we are busier, having more meetings and seeing more internal emails, partly because remotework requires more co-ordination. But that doesn’t mean we are effective. Almost two years on from the first lockdowns, it wouldn’t be surprising if the initialdividends of working from home were fading. The world’s vast experiment inZoom working was conducted at a time when most of us were already immersedin a corporate culture. But new hires will struggle to learn the nuances of the job if they can’t interact properly with senior people holed up in luxurious home offices. And leaders find it difficult to know what is really going on if they’re not having informal encounters with people outside the executive circle. You can learn a great deal from bumping into a junior person in a corridor and having a chat.


No one wants to return to presenteeism or exploitation. But I do wonder why we are so reluctant to acknowledge that productivity might be dented by homeworking. One company director I know was recently surprised, on trying to schedule a meeting with a junior employee, to be told that it clashed with his yoga session. A senior lawyer was livid at how few staff attended online seminarsshe and colleagues carefully hosted — on Fridays.


It is said that 2022 will be the year of the employee. But will 2023 be the year of workplace remorse? We shall see.

大家说,2022年将是员工之时。那麼, 2023年是否会是初入职场愧悔之时?大家翘首以待。



1.accord: n. 协议书,条约;合乎,一致 v. 使遭受,给与(某类工资待遇);(与……)一致,合乎

2.await: v. 等候,希望;将产生在,将坠落在……的身上

3.clash: n. 矛盾,对战;争执,争吵;交战,赛事;矛盾,差别;(金属材料的)敲击声;(時间上的)矛盾,撞期;(色调、图案设计等的)不般配 v. 相去甚远,排斥;矛盾,对战;争执,争吵;(時间上)发生冲突,与此同时产生;(色调、图案设计等)不融洽,不般配;(体育文化)交战,对战;(使)碰撞传出铿锵声

4.compensate: v. 赔付,偿还;填补,赔偿;相抵;酬报(别人)

5.competitive: adj. 市场竞争的;好竞争的,争强好胜的;有竞争能力的

6.contract: n. 合同书,合同;刺杀协议书;(桥牌规则)定约墩数;婚契,定亲 v. (使)收拢,变小;签订合同,签订合同;得了,感柒;签订婚契(或誓约);欠负(债)

7.corridor: n. (房屋建筑或列车内的)安全通道,走廊;(一国国土根据他国地区的)过道;狭长地带

8.critical: adj. 抨击的,爱苛刻的;至关重要的,重要的;比较严重的,紧急的;重病的,受伤的;议论性的,点评家的;临界值的

9.crucial: adj. 尤为重要的,关键性的;很好的

10.deliberate: adj. 故意的,故意的;坦然的,提心吊胆的;慎重考虑的 v. 细心考虑到,用心商议

11.despair: n. 崩溃;让人崩溃的人或事 v. 绝望,缺失自信心

12.dictate: v. 指令,要求;危害,操纵;囗述,使英语听写 n. 指令,要求

13.dissipate: vt. 消耗;使……消退 vi. 驱除;浪荡

14.dividend: n. 收益,股利分配;益处,收益;(足球竞彩的)铂金项链;被除数

15.economy: n. 经济发展;节约,简洁;经济仓 adj. 经济实惠的 【名】 (economy)(英)伊科诺米(人名字)






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