The role of telework for productivity during and post-COVID-19

Results from an OECD survey among managers and workers

Motivated by the sudden adoption of telework in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Global Forum on Productivity (GFP) undertook an online survey among managers and workers in 25 countries about their experience and expectations, with a particular focus on productivity and well-being. This paper presents analysis and results from this endeavour. It finds that managers and workers had an overall positive assessment from teleworking both for firm performance and for individual well-being, and wish to increase substantially the share of regular teleworkers from pre-crisis levels. Respondents, on average, find that the ideal amount of telework is around 2-3 days per week, in line with other recent evidence and with the idea that the benefits (e.g., less commuting, fewer distractions) and costs (e.g., impaired communication and knowledge flows) need to be balanced at an intermediate level of telework intensity. To meet the challenges of this “hybrid” working mode, as the survey finds, further changes from management are needed, such as the co-ordination of schedules to encourage a sufficient degree of in-person interaction, and further investment in ICT tools and skills as well as more soft skills to master online communication.

Published on December 16, 2021

In series:OECD Productivity Working Papersview more titles