Banque de France Bulletin no. 231: Article 2 The macroeconomics of teleworking

Economic research – As containment measures against Covid-19 gradually ease, one of the major structural hysteresis effects of the current crisis increasingly appears to be the spread of teleworking. The Covid-19 crisis saw a massive and forced use of teleworking as a way of ensuring the continuity of some activities, mostly in the service sector. While most countries have progressively ended the lockdown measures and allowed workers to come back to their offices, it is more than likely that 2020 will represent a major turning point in the development of teleworking over the long run, with major implications for the demand for corporate real estate.

1 Trends in the use of teleworking

Teleworking has existed for years but did not become widely spread until 2020, even though new technologies have long since decreased the cost of implementing flexible work arrangements. As noted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the concept of teleworking suffers from a definitional problem. For the sake of simplicity, we rely on a simple definition proposed in the 2002 European Framework Agreement on Telework, and define teleworking as the use of technology to organise and perform a professional task away from the employer’s premises, where this task could have been performed in the workplace. This broad and generic definition arguably explains the lack of a comparison of the prevalence of teleworking across countries. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that around 25% of employees worked at home on an average day in 2019, a number that reaches 40% for workers with an advanced degree. However, this definition includes workers that supplement their office hours by working from home. Mas and Pallais (2020) explore different variations of existing flexible work arrangements and find that up to 30% of workers have some kind of flexible work arrangement in the United States, but no more than 10% declare that they work from home on a regular basis. Using the Census Bureau’s America Community Survey, the employment agency FlexJobs reports that the proportion of workers that work from home for at least half of their working time was 3% of the US workforce in 2017. In France, a recent analysis from the Ministry of Labour’s statistical division (DARES) shows that in 2017 a similar proportion of people worked from home at least one day a week on average. In the United Kingdom, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 1.7 million people declared that they mainly worked from home in 2019, accounting for around 5% of people in employment, while 4 million declared that they worked from home for at least a few hours in the week. The numbers differ depending on the definition used and whether or not it includes workers that occasionally work from home during the year, those that are self employed, etc. Still, the common trend across these different definitions is that teleworking has been growing robustly since the early 2010s (Abrams, 2019).

The Covid-19 health crisis and the associated physical distancing measures and lockdowns have forced…

Download the PDF version of this document

Banque de France Bulletin no. 231: The macroeconomics of teleworking
  • Published on 11/06/2020
  • 9 pages
  • EN
  • PDF (376.25 KB)
Download (EN)
Macroeconomics, microeconomics and structures

Updated on: 11/16/2020 15:22