di Santo Milasi, Ignacio González-Vázquez, Enrique Fernández-Macías (OECD)
This paper provides an overview of the trends and differences in the prevalence of telework across EU countries, sectors and occupations before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive evidence shows that before the outbreak telework was more widespread in ICT- and knowledge-intensive sectors, and generally for high-skilled workers, although with big differences across EU countries. In fact, as shown in this paper, the prevalence of telework varied considerably across countries even within the same sector and occupational group. This suggests that, beyond differences in the industrial and occupational structure of employment, other factors, notably related to differences in organisation and management cultures, contribute to explaining the varying prevalence of telework in the EU. As a result of the outbreak-induced requirements to work from home, differences in telework uptake across countries, sectors and job profiles have likely narrowed in recent months. Yet, if past trends are a guide, the ability to further scale up telework in the future without hampering productivity may remain unevenly distributed in the EU.