ifo | The amount of time full-time employees work from home in Germany has leveled off at an average of 1.4 days per week since the pandemic – compared to 1.3 days in neighboring France, 1.6 days in the US, and 1.1 days in Japan. This means that Covid-19 has had a severe and lasting effect on working conditions. That is the finding of a comparative study of 27 countries conducted by the ifo Institute. “Never before has any kind of event reshaped work so profoundly in such a short time,” says Mathias Dolls, one of the study’s authors.
Evidently, the traditional skepticism toward working from home has declined: over half of the employees surveyed say they are more productive working from home than they had anticipated. The more positively employees assess their productivity in relation to their initial expectations, the more work-from-home days employers offer. This correlation applies to all 27 countries examined. The study also found a positive correlation between how many work-from-home days are offered and how rigorous the lockdowns were during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employees do not want to give up working from home. A good quarter (26 percent) would look for a new job if their employer insisted that they always work on-site. Other studies in the US even find that more than 40 percent of those currently working from home would look for a new job if their employer made them return to the office full-time.
This trend could have far-reaching consequences, Dolls says – for example, for the organization of work within companies, their capacity to innovate, or for cities: “If older and more affluent employees migrate to the suburbs, rents may decline in some cities. This, in turn, would make it easier for young employees to live there and to benefit from networking opportunities.”
The study’s authors examined how the outcomes, plans, desires, and perceptions of well-trained full-time employees (aged 20 to 59) in 27 countries vary when it comes to working from home. The data was recorded between July and August 2021 and between January and February 2022.