Digitalisation is an essential prerequisite for new flexible working models and mobile forms of work such as the home office. During the corona crisis, home office suddenly gained importance in the public discussion. The study provides insight into the spread and acceptance of home office in Germany.
The most important facts in brief
The Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt) investigated central questions about the spread and acceptance of working from home during the corona crisis.
For this purpose, bidt conducted two representative short surveys among around 1,500 adult working internet users in Germany, each from 27 to 29 March 2020 and from 12 to 15 June 2020 (using Google Surveys). The analyses show:
The use of home office has increased during the crisis.
Before the crisis, 35% of adult working internet users in Germany worked in a home office at least from time to time. The share among women was slightly lower than among men. At the end of March, 43 % of respondents worked from home at least from time to time; by mid-June, the figure was 40 %. However, the majority of professionals did not work from home even during the corona crisis.
The intensity of home office use has increased significantly with the crisis.
In mid-June, 32% of respondents were still in their home office several times a week. At the end of March, this share was 39%. Before the crisis, by contrast, only 20% of respondents were in their home office several times a week.
Before the corona crisis, some employers did not allow home office.
For 39% of those surveyed in March who had worked from home for the first time during the corona crisis, their employer had not previously allowed it. 26% gave the reason that they did not want to use home office themselves.
Satisfaction with the current home office situation is high.
At both survey times, more than 80% of respondents said they were satisfied with their home office situation. However, the satisfaction values vary somewhat depending on the group of people considered. The proportion of satisfied people was lowest among “home office newcomers” at the beginning of the crisis at the end of March, at 75%, and highest among men living in a household with a child or children at the end of June, at 92%.
Using technology in the home office does not pose any major difficulties.
Three quarters of workers in the mid-June survey said they had no major difficulties with the technology used in the home office. Only 12% reported great difficulties. This may be because home office was not an entirely new experience for many. However, even among those who worked from home for the first time during the corona crisis, a similarly high proportion reported having no difficulties with the technology used. Even by age group, the assessments do not differ significantly.
The desire for more home office is strong.
Around 70 % of the workers surveyed who consider home office to be possible in principle in their jobs would like to be able to work at home more often after the corona crisis than before.
The fear that employers might again restrict home office options after the crisis is widespread.
55% of the surveyed employees assume that the possibilities to work from home will be reduced again to the pre-crisis level after the corona crisis.
The study suggests that the employer and employee sides see the corona-induced push for home office as an opportunity and that both sides should now negotiate the long-term use of flexible forms of work. Regulations that link the advantages of home office with the advantages of presence work appear to be a sensible goal. At the same time, the agreements should counteract possible negative effects of working from home. It remains to be seen whether a legal right to home office will be necessary at all after the initial spark provided by the corona crisis. In any case, in the current situation, the economic recovery phase should not be burdened by new, high bureaucratic requirements regarding home office.
Making the world of work more flexible will also have a strong impact on numerous other areas. These include effects on the environment and the cityscape, social aspects as well as effects on the demand for business travel or office real estate. Research should begin at an early stage to address the associated questions.