Working from home is bad for your chess moves, and complicated work tasks

9 December 2021

Reports of a “new” study analysing the performance of chess players who were participating in tournaments, online from home, during the pandemic, and the subsequent impact on their game, were crossing the wires yesterday. I’m not sure such a study is exactly new though, I found reports about similar research dating back to at least a year ago when I went to find out more.

Regardless, it seems the home office may not be the best place for carrying out certain mentally demanding tasks, a finding made after looking at the quality of some chess players moves which apparently were not to up to the usual standard, while they were playing from home:

According to Dr Dainis Zegners: “Chess is, in many ways, is similar to the work of the knowledge society’s office workplaces: the game is strategic, analytical and takes place under time pressure. Cognitive skills used in chess are also used for complicated tasks and strategic decision making such as drafting a legal contract, preparing a tender document or managerial decisions – the kind of tasks that require clear and precise thinking.

The approach some organisations are taking in having employees present in the workplace a few days a week may then be sensible. Come into the office when something taxing needs doing, and then stay home the rest of the time. As long as we don’t have to spend five full days in the office.

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