Perpetual traffic jams on the street, the person sitting next to you on the S-Bahn is not wearing a mask despite bad breath, the bike path is icy: there are many reasons not to go to the office today. Researchers have now solved a major mystery of the home office: who benefits more if there is no longer a trip to the office? Employees with more free time? Or the employers, because people simply work longer at home? The study’s answer: both, but not to the same extent. The results the international study are particularly remarkable for Germany. Because in no other country examined do employees benefit as much from the home office as in this country.
On average, the German saves 65 minutes of commuting per working day that he spends in the home office. On average, people gain this time if they don’t commute. From this extra time, people spend almost 30 minutes in their free time, almost half of the time gained.
The deliberation work versus leisure time, only a few countries tend to have a similar tendency as the Germans. In no other of the 26 countries also surveyed is the proportion of leisure time spent as high. In France, for example, only a quarter of the time saved is spent on reading, watching TV, playing sports and similar leisure activities. The Germans, on the other hand, who often rate themselves as particularly willing to work compared to other countries, free up more.
However, not only leisure time triumphs in the home office, although some bosses suspect it. In most other countries, companies can be happy: the commuting time saved there is first and foremost used in more work. In Germany, around a third of the time saved is used for additional work, which is an average of around 20 minutes per commute-free day.
In Germany, the boss doesn’t benefit the most
The fact that people in the home office get rid of a lot is not only due to digital tools such as Zoom, but also simply to the fact that they spend longer in front of their laptops than in the company office. Here, too, the Germans stand out in an international comparison. They leave their bosses with a particularly small amount of additional work – the researchers have not observed less in any other country.
The research team’s study was published by the US science network NBER, which enjoys the highest reputation in economics. For the study, however, the researchers did not sit with the stopwatch next to subjects in their home office, but used surveys. The figures are therefore estimates made by those affected themselves. In Germany, more than 1,000 full-time workers were surveyed online during the corona pandemic. The answers were weighted so that factors such as age, gender and education did not skew the results. Respondents indicated how much time they save by commuting and what they do with the minutes. In addition to additional work and free time, they could also tick taking care of their children or relatives, shopping, doing homework or running the household.