How many people work online

More than 10 million work exclusively in the home office

  • Employees have mostly positive experiences in the corona-related home office and would like to work flexibly even after the pandemic
  • Bitkom presents a representative study on the digitization of the world of work

Berlin, December 8, 2020- Since the outbreak of the corona pandemic, millions of professionals have switched to the home office - and have not returned to the office to this day. One in four (25 percent) currently works exclusively in the home office. That corresponds to 10.5 million employed people. This is at least partially the case for a further 20 percent (8.3 million), i.e. not every working day per week. Overall, almost one in two (45 percent) currently works at least partially in the home office. This is the result of a representative survey of 1,503 employees in Germany aged 16 and over on behalf of the Bitkom digital association. Even after the end of the corona pandemic, many more people will work from home than before. According to Bitkom calculations, more than one in three (35 percent) will choose where to work flexibly. That corresponds to 14.7 million employed people. 3.2 million (8 percent) will work exclusively in the home office, another 11.5 million (27 percent) partially. Before the pandemic, working from home was the exception. Only 3 percent of the working population (1.4 million) worked exclusively in the home office, another 15 percent (6.3 million) partially. In principle, more than half (55 percent) of the working population consider their work to be at least partially suitable for home office. One in five (21 percent) could even work completely in the home office according to their own assessment. In contrast, 43 percent say that home office is basically out of the question for their work. “The corona pandemic is the trigger for a profound and sustainable change in the world of work. After the forced switch to the home office with the lockdown in the spring, the vast majority have had mostly positive experiences in the past few months, "says Bitkom President Achim Berg. “The Corona crisis has shown that flexible work does not reduce the quality of work results - on the contrary. Working independently of time and place can be beneficial for all parties, but that requires a profound cultural change in the world of work. The change in the world of work must now be politically pro-actively flanked and supported with incentive systems for employers and employees. "

For three quarters of the time, home office could be used much more in Germany

From the perspective of the employed, the potential for flexible working is by no means exhausted. Three quarters (74 percent) are of the opinion that home office should be used much more in Germany. Most see this as having positive effects for climate policy: 85 percent believe that working from home can reduce traffic and relieve the climate. Employees, on the other hand, are divided when it comes to the extent to which there should be an obligation to work from home in view of the infection rate. A good half (52 percent) demand that you only work from home as long as the Corona crisis is not over. However, there are also 47 percent who do not see it that way. Berg: "After the corona shock, the world of work has adapted to this initially challenging situation in many areas and home office is increasingly becoming the new normal. Now it has to be a question of bringing the advantages for society as a whole to the fore, such as less traffic and congestion, fewer accidents and road deaths and, last but not least, fewer environmentally harmful emissions. Home office makes a crucial contribution to climate protection. The more home offices, the better for the climate. "

People who work from home are more productive and satisfied - and work longer

Those who work in the home office consider their work to be more productive than in the office and are more satisfied with the results. Most also say that they work longer in the home office than in the office. One in four (23 percent) assess their productivity to be significantly higher, and one in three (34 percent) a little higher. Another third (31 percent) think that productivity is constant compared to office work. Job satisfaction is significantly higher for one in five (19 percent) and slightly higher for one in four (24 percent). A third (31 percent) do not see any differences to office work. When it comes to working hours, a good half (55 percent) say that nothing will change in the home office. 13 percent rate it significantly higher, another 22 percent a little higher. Berg: “One of the biggest challenges for working in the home office is the distinction between professional and private life. Clear rules and agreements between employer and employee help here. "

Less stress and more time are the greatest advantages of working from home

The bottom line is that for the majority, the advantages of working from home outweigh the benefits. Eight out of ten (80 percent) feel less stress because there is no commute. Three quarters (76 percent) see the time savings associated with this as positive. And six out of ten (59 percent) notice a generally better work-life balance. Other advantages most often mentioned are more flexibility in terms of time (43 percent), the possibility of a more health-conscious lifestyle, for example with regard to exercise and nutrition (32 percent) and fewer disturbances from colleagues (28 percent). The lack of personal exchange with other employees is, in turn, the most frequently mentioned disadvantage of working from home. More than half (55 percent) complain less contact with colleagues. For one in five (20 percent), having less contact with superiors is also a problem. Other disadvantages most frequently mentioned are difficulties in separating private life from work (21 percent) and poorer working conditions than in the office (21 percent). One in six (17 percent) has the negative feeling of being cut off from important information. While only 4 percent have had absolutely no positive experience working in the home office, there are 19 percent who cannot say anything negative.

Everyone wants to work from home

There is great desire among those who are not allowed to work from home even though their job is basically suitable for it from their point of view. Without exception, everyone would want to work from home at least once in a while: Four out of ten (40 percent) would switch to home office if necessary, for example when craftsmen come, one in four (24 percent) one day a week, one in six (17 percent) several days a week Week and one in ten (10 percent) would only like to work in the home office. Nobody answered the question of whether you would like to be able to work in the home office with no. “Employers who categorically exclude home office are becoming increasingly unattractive for employees and applicants. Even after the pandemic there will still be face-to-face work, but when, where and how work is done will be handled much more flexibly than before Corona, "says Berg.

Home office refusers: Bad internet and presence culture are the main reasons

Anyone who does not work in the home office, although they are allowed to do so, cites the main reason for a poor technical infrastructure. Every fourth refusal to work from home (26 percent) attributes this to an Internet connection that is too slow or too error-prone. But a good one in five (22 percent) of them also said that home office is out of the question because the company generally has a strong presence culture. One in seven (15 percent) would like to strictly separate professional and private life and therefore does not work from home. “It shouldn't be because of the availability of fast internet that working people prefer the office to the home office. 92 percent of households have access to fixed-line Internet with 50 Mbit / s and more, 99 percent are supplied with broadband via LTE - that's enough for several video conferences at the same time, ”says Berg. “On the contrary, a strong presence culture seems to continue to prevail in many companies. That is not only anachronistic, but also irresponsible in the current pandemic situation. "

Every fourth person does not receive any support from the boss in the home office

From the perspective of the employed, the support from the employer could be improved. One in four working from home (23 percent) complains that they have not received any support and that they do not even have a smartphone or notebook from the employer. For most, however, it looks better: with 61 percent, the majority were given a notebook, three out of ten (29 percent) received a monitor, and one in five (20 percent) received a smartphone. Every third person working from home (32 percent) reports that the employer has set up a platform for employee exchange. One in four (27 percent) is supported in self-organization, for example through guidelines. 13 percent were able to do special training.

Majority for tax incentives for home offices

In order to further spread home office in Germany, the majority of working people advocate that tax incentives should be set for this. Six out of ten (59 percent) say the state should give more tax incentives to home offices. One in two (50 percent) is of the opinion that those who only partially work in the home office and do not have a special study at home should enjoy tax advantages. And more than one in three (37 percent) is of the opinion that the flat-rate distance allowance for drivers or pedestrians should also be claimed when working from home. “Those who work in the home office are taxed at a disadvantage compared to commuters. Only very few can separate a study. The state should make the best possible use of fiscal instruments to encourage socially desirable behavior, i.e. to reduce traffic, reduce traffic-related emissions and - in times of pandemic - avoid social contacts. "

Methodological note: The information is based on a survey that Bitkom Research carried out on behalf of the Bitkom digital association. 1,503 employees aged 16 and over were interviewed by telephone between October and November 2020. The survey is representative.