People working from home during lockdown spend more time at their jobs and are less likely to be promoted or take time off sick, but are paid above average wages, according to an official study in the UK.
Documenting the shift to remote work during the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people who did some work at home in 2020 rose by 9.4 percentage points from a year earlier to 35.9 percent of the workforce — representing more than 11 million employees.
However, there were substantial variations between occupations and parts of the country, reflecting the differing experiences of the pandemic for workers as some were hit harder by the crisis than others.
Photo: Bloomberg 照片：彭博社
Although suggesting that the majority of people continued to travel to work during the pandemic, the figures reveal a divergent impact on home workers. According to the research, those using office studies, converted bedroom workplaces and kitchen tables did two-thirds more unpaid overtime in 2020 and were more likely to work after 6pm.
However, they were generally higher qualified and better paid, took longer and more frequent breaks, and started work later in the day.
Staff based at home took less than half the amount of sick leave, with two days compared with four for other employees, reflecting the reduced risk of catching an infection. The ONS said people might also feel well enough to work from home while sick if they did not have to travel.
However, while there is no daily commute and apparent greater flexibility, the research found that those who work consistently from home are less likely to be promoted, in a sign that they could be overlooked due to reduced face-to-face interaction with colleagues and managers.
The study comes as companies across advanced economies adapt to new ways of working, accelerated by the pandemic and facilitated by technological advances, Zoom and video conferencing, and consider making more permanent changes to where staff are based after lockdown.
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