Working from home


German companies had hardly any problems implementing working from home. A survey showed that 44 percent of the managers saw no deterioration in work results and 18 percent worked even better.

12/01/2020 · Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Raumwissenschaften · ifo Institut Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität München e. V. · News · Forschungsergebnis

German companies had hardly any problems when implementing working from home (WFH). This is a key finding of an ifo survey of 1,188 managers and personnel managers, which was conducted in cooperation with consultants from Mercer Promerit and the Women on Supervisory Boards (FidAR) initiative. Of the responding companies, 84 percent said the switch to WFH was not difficult.

Any difficulties that did emerge were a result of failing to meet technical requirements (55 percent), in particular a lack of bandwidth (40 percent). Those surveyed also mentioned more difficult communication among employees (54 percent), a lack of coordination (40 percent), difficulties in balancing work, family life, and childcare (40 percent), as well as greater strain and stress on the workforce (30 percent). Low motivation (19 percent) and lack of IT skills (18 percent) played a subordinate role.

While 44 percent of the managers saw no deterioration in work results from those working from home, 37 percent said results were worse – even among companies that reported no difficulties in the switch. Only 18 percent said that WFH work results were better. When comparing WFH to having employees physically present in the workplace, 59 percent said collaboration was suffering, 34 percent saw no change, and 7 percent said it was better.

Even before the crisis, the share of women working from home (12 percent) was somewhat higher than the share of men (10 percent). Both shares rose during the pandemic, to 30 percent of female employees and 26 percent of male employees. The vast majority of respondents (78 percent) said that there was no difference in how the drawbacks of WFH affected the genders. “However, we see a major difference in this assessment: female managers responded more frequently than male managers that women were negatively impacted,” reports Andreas Peichl, Director of the ifo Center for Macroeconomics and Surveys and one of the authors of the study. When asked in general about the numerous effects of the pandemic, 42 percent of managers and personnel managers answered that women were affected more severely.

In spite of everything, 67 percent of the companies that participated in the ifo survey hope to step up implementation of WFH over the long term. Just 32 percent expect no change, while 1 percent envision less WFH. The share of companies with employees who regularly work from home rose during the coronavirus crisis from 51 to 76 percent. Of that 51 percent, 18 percent of their workforce worked from home prior to the crisis, whereas now it is 42 percent. The average amount of time they spent working from home rose from 33 to 60 percent.

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