Working from Home: Plenty of Room for Improvement in Germany

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The FINANCIAL — In March, 31.7 percent of employees at German companies were working from home part- or full-time, according to the latest survey conducted by the ifo Institute. “Germany still has a lot of room for improvement in this regard. We estimate that 56 percent of employees could potentially work from home,” says Oliver Falck, Director of the ifo Center for Industrial Organization and New Technologies. In February, the ifo Institute calculated Germany’s proportion of remote workers to be 30.3 percent, ifo notes.

“Having more people working from home would help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic – maintaining social distancing while keeping the economy going. At the same time, the fact that the figure is relatively low shows just how important it is to conduct regular testing in the workplace,” Falck adds.

The proportion varies by sector. While 42.6 percent of service provider staff were working from home in March, the figure was 23.4 percent in manufacturing and 19 percent in trade (wholesale: 24.3 percent; retail: 11.4 percent).

Moreover, the largely stable number of employees working from home some or all the time may conceal a decline in individuals working from home as standard, Falck adds. Current mobility data from Google shows that the number of commuters in Germany has been rising again since the second half of February and has now reached the same level as in October 2020; in other words, before the second lockdown. These figures suggest that, overall, more employees are working on-site again, at least for some of the time according to ifo.

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