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Will it stay or will it go? Analysing developments in telework during COVID-19 using online job postings data

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a major shift towards telework and virtual interactions. This paper uses information on job postings from the online job site Indeed to analyse developments in the adoption of telework across 20 countries. It finds, first, that the incidence of advertised telework almost tripled during the pandemic, albeit with large differences both across sectors and across countries. Second, cross-country differences are to a notable extent explained by differences in the extent to which governments restricted mobility during the pandemic. However, while the tightening of restrictions substantially raises advertised telework, their easing only modestly reverses the increase. Third, digital preparedness plays an important role in mediating the response of advertised telework to changes in restrictions. The tightening of restrictions has particularly large effects in sectors that are better prepared to adopt digital business models, while their easing has almost no effect in countries with high-quality digital infrastructure. Overall, these results suggest that telework is here to stay, especially in countries with high levels of digital preparedness. Public policies will need to adapt to reap the potential benefits for productivity and worker well-being.

Published on December 16, 2021

In series:OECD Productivity Working Papersview more titles