JRC research provides evidence to assess the impact of remote work, during and after the COVID-19 lockdowns, by developing occupational teleworkability indices to measured thepotential and actual uptake of remote work. JRC research also showed the impact on working conditions of telework related to confinement measures.
Teleworkability: potential and actual uptake of remote work
The ability to work remotely has been a crucial development in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people suddenly began to work from home on an unprecedented scale, the JRC produced estimates of how many jobs potentially are “teleworkable” across the EU by developing .
The results showed that around 37% of EU-27 employees are in occupations that can technically be carried out from home. This estimate of “teleworkable” employment is in line with the share of people who reported working from home during 2020, and much higher than before the outbreak, when telework was marginal in most countries. In fact, many clerical and administrative jobs which had little access to telework before the pandemic can be fully performed remotely.
However, the feasibility of telework is greater for high-paid jobs, for jobs in larger firms and for those typically held by women. Most low- and middle-skilled occupations are not teleworkable, making these workers more vulnerable during the COVID-10 crisis. A divide in the access to telework could therefore exacerbate existing labour market inequalities.
Working conditions during the COVID-19 confinements
The JRC investigated how the sudden expansion of telework in spring 2020 affected work organisation, how workers have reacted and coped with the new situation and the impacts on various dimensions of job quality and work-life balance. After an initial period in which workers could gain more autonomy and decision-making power at almost of levels of the hierarchy, new forms of remote supervisory control have been put in place and contributed to a standardization of remote working routines.
In many cases, the shift from face-to-face personal interactions to communication mediated through digital platforms challenged the possibility to receive meaningful feedback, exchange ideas and seek information and guidance from supervisors or colleagues. This negatively affected workers’ job satisfaction and motivation, especially of those in occupations rich in social interaction.
Science for Policy Briefs
Sostero M., Milasi S., Hurley J., Fernández-Macías E., Bisello M., Teleworkability and the COVID-19 crisis: a new digital divide?, JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/05, European Commission, Seville, 2020, JRC121193.
Corral, A. and Isusi, I., Impact of the COVID-19 confinement measures on telework in Spain, JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/08, European Commission, Seville, 2020, JRC122651.
Massimo, F. S., Impact of the COVID-19 confinement measures on telework – qualitative survey for France, JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/09, European Commission, Seville, 2020, JRC122669.
Moro, A., Impact of the COVID-19 Confinement Measures on Telework in Italy. A Qualitative Survey, JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/10, European Commission, Seville, 2020, JRC122730.
Fana, M., Milasi, S., Napierala, J., Fernandez Macias, E. and Gonzalez Vazquez, I., Telework, work organisation and job quality during the COVID-19 crisis: a qualitative study, JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/11, European Commission, Seville, 2020, JRC122591.