Antonin Bergeaud, Jean Benoit Eymeoud, Thomas Garcia, Dorian Henricot, 18 January 2022

As employers and employees established ways of working remotely to limit physical interaction during outbreaks of Covid-19, teleworking became increasingly routine. This column examines how corporate real-estate market participants adjusted to the growth of teleworking in France, and finds that it has already made a noticeable difference in office markets. In départements more exposed to telework, the pandemic prompted higher vacancy rates, less construction, and lower prices. Forward-looking indicators suggest that market participants believe the shift to teleworking will endure.

Janice Eberly, Jonathan Haskel, Paul Mizen, 13 January 2022

The impact of an economic shock depends both on its severity and the resilience of the response. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a widespread decline in recorded GDP, but this was buffered by an unprecedented and spontaneous deployment of ‘potential capital’ – the dwelling/residential capital and connective technologies used while working from home. This column estimates that together, potential capital and labour working from home provided additional output margins and capacity which roughly halved the decline in GDP in the US and revises downwards the estimated total productivity gains in the business sector during the pandemic.

Lena Anayi, Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Paul Mizen, Gregory Thwaites, Chris Young, 28 October 2021

Covid-19 has had a sizeable impact on where people work and how they shop. This column uses data from the Decision Maker Panel business survey of 3,000 UK firms to assess the longer-run impact. The pandemic is expected to increase hours worked from home and sales made online. Firms will invest less in land and buildings but more in IT and software. The pandemic is also expected to reduce medium-term employment and sales, with some shift away from large urban areas towards more rural areas.

Lutz Bellmann, Pauline Bourgeon, Christina Gathmann, Patrick Gleiser, Christian Kagerl, Eva Kleifgen, Corinna König, Ute Leber, David Marguerit, Ludivine Martin, Laura Pohlan, Duncan Roth, Malte Schierholz, Jens Stegmaier, Armin Aminian, 05 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced firms to adapt their work processes to the infectious dynamic and the public health measures to contain it. Using survey data of almost 2,000 establishments in Germany, this column shows that the pandemic has accelerated the diffusion of digital technologies, especially in combination with working from home. Investments are particularly prominent in large establishments, while small and medium-sized establishments are less likely to invest in digital technologies and more likely to face financial or logistic barriers to investment. Investments vary a lot across sectors, but are less influenced by the current economic condition of the establishment.

Jeegar Kakkad, Christina Palmou, David Britto, James Browne, 10 July 2021

The Covid pandemic has helped to loosen the binds that previously tied a job to a specific geography and created a new class of work in the UK. ‘Anywhere jobs’ are non-routine service sector jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world, potentially for cheaper. This column shows that one in five workers in the UK are in an anywhere job and, in contrast to the past when the pressure was on semi-skilled workers, it is relatively highly skilled workers in non-routine roles that are now vulnerable to the pressures of technology and globalisation.

Megha Patnaik, Andrea Lamorgese, Andrea Linarello, Fabiano Schivardi, 01 May 2021

In response to COVID-19, firms had to adapt to nationwide lockdowns and social distancing measures with little to no prior experience. This column examines the role of management in firms’ responses to the pandemic in Italy, the first western country to be badly hit by the outbreak, and finds that firms with structured management practices experienced lower declines in performance during the post-lockdown period. These firms were more likely to adopt labour-related strategies in response to the lockdown, including transitions to remote work.

Charles Gottlieb, Jan Grobovšek, Markus Poschke, Fernando Saltiel, 18 March 2021

The ability to work from home, which has proved crucial to the resilience of labour markets during the Covid-19 pandemic, may have shifted employment patterns permanently. Data on this shift have thus far come largely from advanced economies. This column proposes a measure of the ability to work from home in low- and middle-income countries. It indicates that fewer than 10% of urban jobs in developing countries can be done remotely, and in particular workers in low-wage occupations and the self-employed have fewer opportunities to work from home.

Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 23 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sudden, massive shift around the world to working from home. While there is great concern how this will affect inequality and how the economy will adjust, the shift has also saved billions of hours of commuting time in the US alone. Drawing on original surveys, this column estimates that the shift to working from home lowers commuting time among Americans by more than 60 million hours per workday. Americans devote about a third of the time savings to their primary jobs and about 60% to other work activities, including household chores and childcare. The allocation of time savings differs substantially by education group and between persons with and without children at home.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, Christopher Rauh, 02 September 2020

Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has provided shelter from both the health risks and the economic shock brought about by the pandemic. This column uses survey data from the US and the UK to demonstrate systematic variation in individuals’ ability to work from home both across and within occupations and industries. In addition, men and workers with a college degree can do a substantially higher share of their tasks from home, while workers on low incomes report being able to do a smaller share. This polarisation has increased over the course of the pandemic, as workers who were already able to carry out a large share of tasks remotely have become able to do even more from home.

Charles Gottlieb, Jan Grobovšek, Markus Poschke, Fernando Saltiel, 29 August 2020

Many countries have implemented social distancing and lockdown policies to tame the spread of Covid-19. This column discusses the potential GDP and employment effects of lockdown policies for a broad cross-section of countries ranging in income per capita from Niger to Luxembourg. It shows that the employment and GDP effects of lockdown policies are U-shaped in income per capita. While workers in rich countries have a substantially higher ability to work from home, which mitigates declines in employment and GDP, poor countries concentrate employment and value-added in essential sectors that are not shut down. Middle-income countries see the largest declines as they feature relatively large employment shares in non-essential sectors and relatively low work from home ability

Santo Milasi, Martina Bisello, John Hurley, Matteo Sostero, Enrique Fernández-Macías, 14 August 2020

The growth in teleworking seen during the Covid-19 crisis has been strongly skewed towards highly paid occupations and white-collar employment, raising concerns about the emergence of a new divide between those who can work remotely and those who cannot. Nonetheless, enforced closures of economic activities due to confinement measures resulted in many new teleworkers amongst low and mid-level clerical and administrative workers who previously had limited access to this working arrangement. This column presents new estimates of the share of teleworkable employment in the EU and discusses factors determining the gap between actual and potential teleworking – including elements of work organisation. It also discusses how telework patterns could develop in the future and related policy implications.

Dimitris Papanikolaou, Lawrence D.W. Schmidt, 23 July 2020

COVID-19 has massively disrupted the supply side of the world economy, shutting down entire industries. This column analyses how these disruptions affected different types of firms and workers by looking at how effectively different sectors can shift to remote work. While the major policy interventions in the US have treated all types of business as equivalent, industries which are not able to do their work remotely have been hit much harder than business that can. This cross-sectional dispersion shows up across a variety of measures, including changes in employment, revenue projections, likelihood of default, current liquidity, and stock returns. Going forward, aid that targets disrupted sectors may be a more cost-effective means to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19.

Alex Bartik, Zoe Cullen, Edward Glaeser, Michael Luca, Christopher Stanton, 19 July 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has necessitated a rise in remote working, but many challenges to its broader adoption remain. This column uses survey data from thousands of small businesses representing a wide set of industries, firm sizes, and regions across the US to understand how businesses are adjusting to the crisis. It finds that transition to remote working is uneven, with businesses in industries with higher income and better educated employees more likely to transition to remote working. Productivity effects are also uneven, with many firms becoming less productive as a result of the transition.

Cem Özgüzel, Paolo Veneri, Rudiger Ahrend, 15 July 2020

Places differ in the degree to which they can maintain economic activity through remote working in the face of shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This column assesses the capacity of regions in 30 developed economies to shift to remote working during a lockdown. Based on individual-level data on occupations from labour force surveys, it shows that cities – and in particular capitals – typically have a higher share of occupations suitable for remote working. This may offset some of the stronger negative economic impacts of COVID-related policies on cities. Regional disparities in the capacity for remote working also clearly reflect the level of education of the workforce.


CEPR Policy Research