Christy Hoffman and Sharan Burrow in Social Europe:
In the years to come, we may look back at 2020 as an inflection point—a pivotal moment when large numbers of workers began to reorganise their lives away from a worksite, towards new models of working at or near home. The global pandemic forced a sudden, disruptive shift in work, supported by technology which quickly adapted to make continued activity possible on a larger scale than ever imagined. Many predict that we shall never go back to the workplaces of the past.
Such teleworking has been gradually increasing for several decades, typically associated with jobs that are easily measurable and highly autonomous, often involving high levels of independent judgement. It has been most prevalent in northern Europe and, in the United States, in areas with long commute times and highly-priced office space, where both the employer and employee are incentivised to adopt the model.
But the pandemic has proved that a much wider range of work can be effectively performed away from a worksite, including work which is less skilled and autonomous. In fact, during the lockdown an estimated 40 per cent of all workers in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development were able to continue to work from home.