In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries across the world were locked down, leading to a rise in employees working from home. Research from the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project shows how the pandemic has changed attitudes to home working in 14 countries across the world.
Which countries had a work-from-home culture before the Covid-19 pandemic?
Out of 14 countries, the United States had the highest proportion of workers saying they spent at least some time working from home before the pandemic. Close to half (46%) of Americans who were in work before the pandemic started were already working from home at least some of the time, including 18% who worked from home the whole time, 12% most of the time and 16% some of the time.
Australia (44%), Canada (42%) and Russia (38%) also had higher proportions of people working from home before the pandemic.
At the other end of the scale, Spain (26%), Italy (22%) and Japan (17%) had the lowest proportions of workers doing their jobs from home before Covid-19. Just 3% of Japanese workers were working entirely from home before the pandemic.
How did Covid-19 change attitudes to working from home?
In all countries surveyed, the pandemic seems to have changed attitudes to working from home, with a higher proportion of citizens in all countries saying they would prefer to work from home at least some of the time in future than said they were working from home before Covid-19.
Again, the United States had the highest percentage of people who would prefer to work from home. Two-thirds (66%) of American workers who were in work before the pandemic started say they would prefer to work from home at least some of the time in future, including a quarter (26%) who say they would like to work from home all the time.
Australia (62%), Canada (59%), Sweden (57%), Great Britain (56%) and Denmark (55%) all have a distinct majority of workers who would prefer to be able to work from home at least some of the time in the future.
In all countries except Japan, close to half (or more) workers would prefer to spend some of their time working from home. However, just a third (35%) of Japanese workers want to work from home, although this is still considerably higher than the 17% who said they were working from home before the pandemic.
Has Covid-19 made work more stressful?
Undeniably, the coronavirus pandemic made life more stressful in general – worries about exposure to the virus, concerns for clinically vulnerable friends and family and the isolation of lockdowns. In most countries surveyed, the pandemic also had a negative effect on work life.
Australians were most likely to say that the pandemic made their work life more stressful (57%), followed closely by the US (55%), Japan (55%) and Spain (54%).
However, for Germans, Swedes and Danes, the pandemic had less of a negative impact on their work lives. Four in 10 (39%) German workers, a third (32%) of Swedish workers and a quarter (25%) of Danish workers say Covid-19 made their work life more stressful, with 46%, 48% and 57% respectively saying they thought the pandemic made no overall change either way.
See full results here