Work from home is here to stay with probable end to five-day office week

Employees and managers found remote working during the pandemic was positive for performance and well-being

Empty cubicles in an office in Philadelphia, US. Research by the OECD indicates that remote working ways are here to stay. Reuters

There may be no going back to the five-day week in the office, a survey of workers in 25 countries has shown.

Both employees and managers found working from home during the pandemic was positive for performance and well-being, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said. The proportion of staff teleworking at least one day a week is expected to be much higher than before the pandemic.

A separate study by OECD researchers of job postings on the website Indeed found that the substantial increase in advertised telework in Covid lockdowns was only reversed modestly when the restrictions were eased.

“These results suggest that telework is here to stay, especially in countries with high levels of digital preparedness,” researchers said.

A fundamental and lasting shift towards teleworking would have significant implications for the structure of economies, from productivity to worker rights and childcare provision.

To adapt, researchers analysing the survey results said governments should ensure reliable internet coverage, set regulations to make telework possible and provide training for those at risk of being left behind in a remote working world, including women and employees of smaller companies. They also said workers should be protected from too much working from home, which can harm well-being and productivity.

According to respondents in the survey, the ideal amount of telework is two-to-three days a week to balance benefits, such as less commuting and fewer distractions at home, with costs such as impaired communication and missing serendipitous interactions.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 8:29 AM