According to a report by Eurofound, nearly half of the working population of the European Union switched to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, compared with 10% beforehand.
Of these, approximately 34% were working exclusively from home as of July, with the remainder working partially from home.
Before the health crisis, less than 10% of workers worked from home at least occasionally, whilst the number of people working remotely on a regular basis was even lower at just 5%.
With the recovery from Covid-19 due to take place soon, there are fears over the economic impact of the pandemic, as well as the gap in digital services between member states.
The challenges of switching to remote working
It’s predicted that more workers will be working remotely, at least occasionally. In a study by the Commission called “Living, Working, and Covid-19”, experts predict that remote working becoming a reality will be accelerated by the pandemic.
The results show that the proportion of people working remotely varied significantly between EU countries. Belgium, for example, currently has 50% of people working remotely, and Spain, Italy, and France all have levels above 40%.
On the other hand, in Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia, around 20% of workers have been working from home regularly during the pandemic.
Additionally, those with higher qualifications were much more likely to work remotely, whilst the services, health, transport, and agricultural industries had much lower levels.
As well as the digital divide, another potential issue with remote working is the blurring of boundaries between work and home and the impact this could have on people’s mental health.
In the survey, 24% of remote workers said they worked during their free time, whilst just 6% of those working in a business location away from home did this.
There are advantages and disadvantages to home working. A lot of people express that they want to continue remote working, at least some of the time. However, going forward, the EU will need to address any issues for both workers and companies.
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