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How Working From Home is Like a Glass of Water

How Working From Home is Like a Glass of Water



hand holding a glass of water


Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash


We all know how water spreads out to occupy the shape of the glass that it’s poured into, and of course we’re all familiar with the conclusion that naturally follows that cats are therefore also water


But the truth still remains that work eventually expands to fill the available space, which is also known as Parkinson’s Law.


As such, we wanted to see how working from home may have altered people’s working habits. We took a look at how users were engaging with our dashboard over time. We looked at each month’s activity (and normalized it to 100%) and plotted out user activity as a function of time of day and day of week. What we see in the figures below is that pre-COVID (Jan and Feb), most of our users were engaging with our platform during normal business hours, which makes sense given that our primary platform is designed for alerting and monitoring. But then, we see that in March, there’s a flurry of activity, esp on Sundays, as people begin rapid preparations for impending closures and shutdowns. Subsequently in April, we see that user activity is much more spread out over the day than in pre-COVID times.




plot of usage of EM platform


User activity on our platform by day of week. Activity is normalized per monthly usage as a percent.


The above only shows activity by day of the week, so we then took a look at how user activity spread out over time. The plot below maps out user activity by time of day as the weeks progressed. And per Parkinson’s Law, as more and more people started to work from home in March, we see that the activity kept spreading out from normal business hours (in Jan/Feb), to pretty much 24 hours a day!



user activity plot



User activity on our platform by week showing the spread of activity expanding

throughout the day as more and more people start working from home.


So there you have it, a data-driven analysis that people are indeed like water, expanding our efforts to fill the time we are “at work”. We strongly recommend that you refrain from referring to your co-workers as cats though...


All kidding aside, it’s impressive to see how people have been coming together and quickly adapting to new working situations. Technologies that enable efficient and convenient ways of remotely working are the underpinnings of how the economy is being supported in these times. We are proud to play a small part in all of this, and we will continue to analyze these macro utilization trends. Our goal is to be a resource and provide this type of resource-planning information, free of charge, to any life sciences company for ensuring future business continuity.


In addition, Elemental Machines, during this COVID-19 crisis, is happy to provide free monitoring of your facilities to optimize remote work planning.

Free Monitoring


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