'An indulgence' | UK has highest rates of remote work in Europe, sparking anger from MPs

UK has highest rates of remote work in Europe, sparking anger from MPs

In a recent survey that has stirred up controversy among MPs, Britain has claimed the spot of having the highest rates of remote work in Europe.

According to figures from Ifo Institute for Economic Research, employees in the UK are taking remote work to new heights, spending 1.5 days every week working remotely, from at-home offices, bedrooms, dining tables and cafes.

In contrast, the international average stands at a shorter 0.9 days, with English speaking countries having the highest rates of working from home in the world.

The UK’s 1.5 days average is compared to a 1 day a week average in Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, France’s 0.6 days average and 0.5 days in Greece.

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Outside of Europe, remote work in Canada exceeded that of the UK with 1.7 days average, the US was only slightly behind the UK with 1.4 days, New Zealand had a one day average and South Africe and Singapore a 0.9 days average, indicating a correlation between higher rates of remote work and English speaking countries.

These statistics have ignited negative reactions among some Tory MPs, who claim increased remote work has direct correlation to low productivity levels seen since the pandemic.

Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: “No wonder our productivity record, especially in the public sector, continues to be so bad,” while another Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith echoed the sentiment that remote work was “damaging” productivity, and had become an “indulgence” for many workers.

Productivity debate

As the remote work debate, which is characterised by a question of productivity, persists, these new figures shed light on the common perception that remote work leads to laziness and lower productivity.

However, this perception fails to acknowledge the complexity of accurately measuring productivity, and considering a decrease in productivity is more commonly linked to burnout, and in the current economic climate is likely linked to the impact of a cost-of-living crisis.

This is linked to multiple studies since the pandemic. One from Stanford University found that remote workers were five per cent more productive than those working in the office, and other research suggests a lack of good management, toxic work culture and workplace stress are the main reasons for low levels of worker productivity.

This supports the idea that workers want to do well when they start their working day and aren’t just going to doss around when given more freedom, and if there is lower productivity, maybe there are other reasons for this beyond remote work.

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