Before COVID hit, only around 5% of Europeans regularly worked from home. According to new statistics, that percentage has now more than doubled, with approximately 12.5% of Europeans working online during and after the peak of COVID.
It should be noted, however, that the number of remote workers in Europe is highly skewed towards Western Europe, with telecommuting virtually non-existent in some Eastern European countries.
The shift from working in close quarters in offices to social distancing and teleworking has big implications for the future of the way many of us work — some estimates predict that, in some countries, as many as 1 in 4 people will work remotely by 2025.
Why is this? Well, COVID forced many companies to “experiment” with letting their employees work online, and it seems that the results of the experiment have been largely positive.
Besides the fact the online work meant not having to shut down during Coronavirus lockdowns, companies (and employees) are realizing that they can achieve the same levels of productivity using a teleworking business model as they can with traditional in-person working.
In fact, for some types of businesses, working online may even increase productivity, not to mention it can provide many other benefits for both employees and companies.
Five Reasons Why the Shift To Working Online Has Proved Successful in Europe During COVID
1. Access to a wide range of communication apps
Team communication and virtual meeting platforms have made it easier than ever for remote teams to stay connected and collaborate efficiently.
Using these services, such as those provided by spikenow.com allowed companies to effectively run their teams despite the increase in remote working. This was a vital tool in minimizing the related issues that COVID dealt businesses worldwide
While many companies used these types of telecommunications platforms before COVID, companies, and employees that were forced to use them to keep doing business during the pandemic now know that they are just as efficient as conference room meetings or deskside conversations.
2. Strong internet infrastructure
Many European countries are among those with the best internet infrastructure and the fastest internet in the world. Because of this, employers and workers were able to smoothly make the transition from in-person to online work.
Whereas countries with weaker internet infrastructure may not have been able to handle the surge in internet traffic, especially by remote workers using apps and platforms that require a lot of bandwidth, European countries hardly blinked an eye.
3. Highly tech-based workforce
Naturally, there are many types of jobs that just don’t translate to remote work, particularly those that involve physical labor. However, in many European countries, a large portion of the workforce works in creative and tech sectors, which are much easier to transition to a teleworking model in.
For example, Finland, a major European tech hub, is also the European country with the highest percentage of its workforce working online. This is because many people in the country work in IT companies, start-ups, game development companies, and digital financial services, all of which are conducive to working from home.
4. Variety of digital payment methods available
Of course, people working from home need to get paid, which would have been more complicated a decade or two ago. However, there are so many different online payment platforms and options that this is a non-issue in most developed countries nowadays.
Digital payment availability is worth mentioning here, though, because it’s one reason why shifting to telework can be more difficult in certain countries, where the access to non-traditional payment methods is more limited.
5. Demonstrated productivity gains
Finally, as we touched on earlier, a big reason for the success of online work in Europe during the peak of COVID was the positive effects it had on productivity. Many employees self-reported higher levels of productivity, and companies reported noticing short-term productivity increases.
There is also a continued potential for higher productivity levels in companies switching to a remote work or hybrid work business model because of the adoption of more productivity tools and communication platforms that make company workflows more efficient.
What’s Next for Remote Work in Europe Post-COVID?
With all the learnings companies have gained about teleworking during the pandemic, there will undoubtedly continue to be fewer barriers to remote work and higher percentages of Europeans regularly working from home, especially in Western European countries.
We’re likely to see a dip in the figures of the percentage of people working online in Europe as some high-skill jobs, such as social work and health professions, require workers to return to doing mostly in-person work. However, in very knowledge-based sectors, like tech and finance, the number of people working from home is going to continue to increase post-pandemic.
What’s certain is that remote work business models are here to stay, and we’ll never see a return to pre-pandemic levels of people going to work in physical offices. This can be beneficial to both companies and employees in terms of productivity, finances, and work-life balance. It remains to be seen how this shift will affect our society in other ways.