A rising share of employees now regularly engage in working from home (WFH), but there are concerns this can lead to “shirking
from home.” We report the results of a WFH experiment at Ctrip, a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency. Call
center employees who volunteered to WFH were randomly assigned either to work from home or in the office for nine months.
Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick
days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment). Home workers also
reported improved work satisfaction, and their attrition rate halved, but their promotion rate conditional on performance
fell. Due to the success of the experiment, Ctrip rolled out the option to WFH to the whole firm and allowed the experimental
employees to reselect between the home and office. Interestingly, over half of them switched, which led to the gains from
WFH almost doubling to 22%. This highlights the benefits of learning and selection effects when adopting modern management
practices like WFH. JEL Codes: D24, L23, L84, M11, M54, O31.