According to a survey by the Hans Böckler Foundation, around a quarter of employees worked from home at the end of January: 24 percent did so exclusively or mainly from home. Of these, the German government's home office ordinance was a reason for one-third to switch to working from home. Not in all cases though, as often the reason was that the employer allowed employees to work from home for the first time - in some cases, the respondents themselves probably took the ordinance as a reason, which has been in force since January 27.
Bettina Kohlrausch, scientific director of the Economic and Social Research Institute (WSI) of the Böckler Foundation, which has close ties to the trade unions, sees the assessment of the previous study from November confirmed. That study showed a rather low home office quota and considered "significantly more home offices" to be possible. It was only the enormous public pressure on employers and finally the regulation that led to an expansion.
According to the November survey, 14 percent of the workforce had worked primarily or exclusively from home at that time; whereas in December, the figure was 17 percent. Kohlrausch emphasizes that this "moderate" increase can be interpreted to mean "that it was not the insight of employers alone that led to the broader use of home office." In some workplaces, there still appears to be pressure on employees to work on the job.
Home office potential at 39 percent
At the current rate of 24 percent, home office potential has still not been reached, according to the authors: 39 percent say their tasks can be done from home without restriction or to a large extent. 5 percent of those who worked primarily at work at the end of January said they planned to further reduce their face-to-face work. Of those, 70 percent again said their employer discouraged them from working more from home. "Even with a conservative estimate, we have to assume that this still affects several hundred thousand employed people," says WSI data expert Helge Emmler.
The regulation was also put in place with reference to low home office numbers from November. The January figure is now comparable to that from the first lockdown in April 2020, when the percentage was 27 percent. For the current study, participants were asked between Jan. 26 and Feb. 8 whether they have been working more at home since Jan. 19 because of the new regulation.
Image by Vinzent Weinbeer