Deployed on a massive scale during the Covid-19 pandemic, telecommuting can provide a long-term boost to business productivity if it continues to be so widespread, the National Productivity Council (NPC) noted in a report released last spring.
"Unlike many previous crises that led to a slowdown in productivity trends, the acceleration in the use of telecommuting due to the health crisis could ultimately lead to a sustainable gain in productivity," the Matignon-based organization said.
A one-point increase in the percentage of employees teleworking "would improve overall factor productivity by an average of about 0.45%," write the authors, who base their findings on a study by the Banque de France.
"Extrapolating this result to the overall level of the French economy, the increase in the proportion of teleworkers from about 5% in the pre-Covid period (4% of regular teleworkers in 2019, editor's note) to 25% in the longer term" would generate an average productivity gain of 5 to 9%.
But beware, "this is a first estimate, which should be confirmed by other studies once the situation of teleworking has stabilized", warns the CNP.
Boosted by the pandemic, the percentage of employees working remotely has fluctuated according to the confinements and relaxations of health restrictions.
"37% of employees experienced it, either regularly or not, between March 2020 and January 2021," the NOC details.
But in November 2021, only 21% of employees said they worked remotely at least one day a week.
At the same time, the use of telecommuting must be measured, the NPC points out, so "that its positive effects on worker efficiency outweigh the losses."
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According to an OECD survey cited in the report, the optimal frequency of remote work would be "between two and three days a week".
A "hybrid" way of working that complicates the task of managers who are challenged to reconcile the advantages of teleworking (reduced costs and travel time in particular) with their disadvantages (reduced interaction between employees).
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