Teresa Barbieri, Gaetano Basso, Sergio Scicchitano, 27 April 2020

Many countries are now designing exit strategies from the sectoral lockdowns put in place to contain the outbreak of Covid-19. This column provides new evidence from Italy on the degree of workplace risk of exposure to the virus. Unsurprisingly, the health sector is the most exposed to diseases and infections, while the services sector is the most risky in terms of physical proximity. These and other findings can help in deciding which activities to reopen first and where to reinforce security measures.

Claudia Hupkau, Barbara Petrongolo, 22 April 2020

The social distancing and lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 crisis has hit service sectors with frequent interactions between consumers and providers which cannot be done from home. At the same time, it has added education and childcare services to pre-existing home production needs.  This column combines survey data from the UK with occupation classifications to show that that – unlike previous recessions – the current crisis is harming women’s labour market prospects more than those of men and that women are also likely to be on the receiving end of the bulk of increased home production requirements.

Masayuki Morikawa, 10 April 2020

Japan, similar to many countries hit by the COVID-19 shock, has experienced a sudden increase in people working from home. This column exploits the teleworking arrangements implemented at the author’s workplace to investigate the impact on productivity. In a survey, workers indicate that they are, on average, less productive at home than in the office. While some of the reasons for this, such as lack of familiarity with remote access software, will fade over time, other factors suggest that a productivity gap will remain.

Tito Boeri, Alessandro Caiumi, Marco Paccagnella, 09 April 2020

In getting people back to work before a vaccine is developed, policymakers will have to balance medical risks and economic risks. This column presents some calculations on the number of jobs that can be carried out without putting workers at risk of being infected by COVID-19. The findings suggest that the share of jobs that can be performed without putting workers’ health at risk is limited, and probably does not reach 50%. Importantly, this share is even lower in strategic industries that supply the health sector.

Marta Angelici, Paola Profeta, 28 March 2020

The outbreak of coronavirus has led to a huge increase in ‘smart working’ across the world, but little is known about the economic effects of this mode of working. This column uses an experiment with workers in a large, traditional company in the multi-utility sector in Italy to show that the introduction of smart working can have a positive effect on productivity, wellbeing and work-life balance. By removing the rigidity related to particular hours of work, it may contribute to reducing gender gaps in the labour market.

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