With its eighth survey on home office, bidt shows that the current energy crisis does not make going to the office seem more attractive for employees in many cases, and that home office use has increased further. Overall, however, rising energy costs play only a subordinate role in working from home; even now, the work-life balance is the main consideration when choosing to work from home.
Home office survey October 2022
The corona pandemic has permanently changed the working world in Germany by increasing home office use. Whereas in the last two winters, infection protection reasons were at the centre of the debate around working from home, this winter is the energy crisis. On the one hand, companies see savings potential through greater use of home offices if office buildings are heated less and less electricity is consumed (t3n). On the other hand, the increased energy costs at home may make going to the office seem more attractive again for employees (Der Standard).
In its eighth representative short survey among working internet users in Germany on the home office topic, the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt) shed light on questions about the connection between home office and the energy crisis. Using Google Surveys, 970 working internet users in Germany were surveyed from 14 to 28 October 2022. This survey joins the seven previous cross-sectional surveys conducted by bidt in March 2020, June 2020, February 2021, May 2021, September/October 2021, March 2022 and June 2022 on the topic of home office and allows for analyses over time.
The majority of professionals surveyed see the employer’s push to increase the use of home office as a way to save energy as positive.
Two-thirds of the surveyed working internet users in Germany find the employers’ proposal to expand the home office use to save energy costs rather or very good. Only about one-third of the respondents think the proposal is rather or very bad. There are differences in the assessment depending on whether employees currently use home office or not. Thus, 70 % of home office users find the suggestion rather good or very good, whereas it is only 58 % of people who do not work from home.
42% of employees state that the employer is not planning to change home office policy due to increased energy costs.
Despite the expressed desire of some employers to expand the use of home office to save energy costs, only 15% of the employees indicate that their employer intends to expand such possibilities. 42% of employees do not see any planned changes in working from home in the wake of the energy crisis. 38% of employees do not know about corresponding intentions on the employer’s part. There are clear differences according to the current use of home office. While almost a quarter of people working from home state that their employer intends to expand home office due to the increased energy costs, only 7% of employees not working from home state this. Companies already utilising work-from-home options are more inclined to consider expanding their remote workforce in response to the energy crisis.
Financial reasons play a role in working from home for about 50% of home office users.
31% of home office users say financial considerations play a role in their decision to work from home. For another 21%, this is rather the case, while for a total of 48%, it is somewhat or definitely not the case. Financial considerations play a role for more professionals who use home office frequently than those who use home office only once a week or less.
Rising energy costs lead to an increase in working from home for 15% of professionals and a decrease for 8%.
While about 35% of the respondents state they cannot or are not allowed to work from home, 42% do not plan to change their home office use due to rising energy costs. 15% of professionals plan to expand their frequency of working from home in the wake of the energy crisis; 8% say they plan to reduce working from home due to rising energy costs.
Professionals working from home several times a week are more likely to change their behaviour due to increasing energy prices. 27% want to expand their work from home, and only 12% want to reduce it. Among those who work from home only occasionally or once a week, three-quarters do not plan to change the frequency of home office use in the wake of the energy crisis. It can be concluded that financial considerations significantly impact the use of home office among professionals who work from home regularly. These professionals are also more likely to increase their use of home office in response to the energy crisis.
Working from home, at least sometimes, is at the highest level.
The plans of some employers and employees to expand working from home due to the current energy crisis are also reflected in the following figures. 55% of employed persons work from home at least sometimes — that is more than in all previous survey waves. Throughout the year, the percentage of professionals who work from home several times a week has increased. However, it currently stands at 41%, which is notably lower than the peak value observed during the 2021 pandemic.
Professionals cite better work-life balance and better, more productive work as the main reasons for working from home.
Despite the current energy crisis and the considerations of employers and employees to adapt the use of home office in response to it, other factors play a more decisive role in working from home. For example, the most important reason is a better work-life balance, followed by more productive, better and more concentrated work from home. Only about a quarter of home office users cite saving money or protection from corona infection as one of the main reasons for working from home.
Differences can be seen according to age groups. For example, the compatibility of work and private life is important, especially for middle-aged professionals. Compared to professionals aged 55 and above, younger respondents often see a more productive, better and more concentrated work environment as the main reason for working at home. On the other hand, older professionals name protection from corona infection as a main reason for working from home more frequently than younger professionals.
Satisfaction with individual working-from-home situations is at the highest level.
Satisfaction with one’s situation in the home office increased slightly compared to the previous surveys. At 91%, the vast majority of people working from home are rather or very satisfied with their situation in the home office. This is the highest level observed so far in the eight waves of the survey. Professionals who work from home several times a week are the most satisfied (94 %). In contrast, only 84% of professionals who work from home once a week or less are rather or very satisfied with their home office situation.
Summary and outlook
According to the latest survey on the prevalence and acceptance of home office in Germany, the frequency of working from home continues to rise slightly, particularly in light of the energy crisis. Currently, 55% of respondents work from home at least occasionally. Employers have encouraged working from home to save energy costs, which has been met with a positive response from most employees. However, the energy crisis has had a limited impact on home office usage. Only 20% of employees reported that their employer intends to change their home office policies in response to the energy crisis, and only about 23% of the professionals plan to adjust their frequency of working from home. While energy costs play a minor role in the decision to work from home, a better work-life balance is often cited as the main reason. The survey suggests that those who plan to change their home office behaviour due to rising energy costs tend to work from home more often rather than less, particularly those for whom financial considerations are important. Despite predictions going back to the office will increase again due to rising energy costs, this does not seem to be the case. For many employees, saving commuting costs outweighs the additional costs for heating and electricity at home, especially if it leads to a better work-life balance.