Home Finance WFH ‘culture war’ begins across Europe, with UK leading as most WFH-friendly country, France lagging behind

WFH ‘culture war’ begins across Europe, with UK leading as most WFH-friendly country, France lagging behind

by Editorial Staff
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Someday between March 2020 and the top of 2021, “workplace staff” stopped being a factor.

Workplaces actually not, and never doing the type of work folks used to do in workplaces earlier than the pandemic. However the inseparable connection between them was irrevocably damaged, as working at residence turned first a necessity, after which ceaselessly a possibility.

WFH has now turn out to be the topic of controversy around the globe as staff conflict with administration over the place folks work and who will get to decide on. As Professor Mark Mortensen from the INSEAD enterprise faculty tells Fortune“There is a tradition battle happening proper now.”

Like most wars, the battle for distant and hybrid work has a number of fronts. So the place in Europe does WFH win?

What does the info say?

The UK leads Europe within the rating of residence working, in response to the World Survey of Office Organizations (G-SWA), the authoritative annual research by main economists of the behaviors and preferences of greater than 40,000 staff in 34 international locations.

Actually, the common UK university-educated employee spends twice as a lot time distant working as their French counterparts and thrice as a lot as their Greek counterparts. Nations that actively deal with the distant work of international “digital nomads”, equivalent to Portugal and Italy, in the meantime, have a mean degree.

Variety of working days per week, chosen European international locations:

  • UK: 1.8 (similar as US)
  • Germany 1.5
  • Netherlands/Italy/Spain/Sweden 1.2 (similar as European common)
  • Portugal 1.0
  • France 0.9
  • Denmark 0.8
  • Greece 0.6

Supply: G-SWA 2023

Back view of a young female student in a graduation gown with a graduation cap on her graduation day.
The common UK university-educated employee spends twice as a lot time telecommuting as their French counterpart – and thrice as a lot as their Greek counterparts.

Getty Photographs

The most recent G-SWA knowledge was dated to spring 2023, however the sample seems to be holding.

In line with LinkedIn knowledge ready for Fortune41% of UK job adverts on its platform in April 2024 had been for hybrid roles, in comparison with 32% within the wider EMEA area.

Britain additionally had the very best proportion of distant roles in Europe at 9% – thrice increased than France and the Netherlands, which had been the leaders in telecommuting earlier than the pandemic.

Maybe probably the most compelling indicator is the figures for the usage of transport. Evaluation by the UK’s Division for Transport discovered that between Could and June 2024, London Underground use solely reached between 75% and 87% of 2019 ranges, with Mondays and Fridays constantly effectively beneath pre-pandemic averages.

Passengers using the London Underground transport system.
Passengers utilizing the London Underground transport system.

Travelpix Ltd—Getty Photographs

By comparability, in response to the World Cities Survey 2024, the Paris railway returned to 91% of pre-pandemic customers by the second quarter of 2023.


Various factors have an effect on the velocity of distant and hybrid work, together with Wi-Fi connectivity, totally different blocking experiences and the composition of sectors in several international locations. Merely put, manufacturing and retail don’t lend themselves to WFH, whereas coding and publishing do.

The UK economic system is extra service oriented than most of its European neighbours, significantly finance and know-how, so structurally you’d anticipate to see extra hybrid and distant work there.

However there’s one other, maybe extra essential issue, says INSEAD’s Mortensen: the nationwide tradition of individualism.

“The extra individualistic a rustic is, the extra folks like distant and hybrid work,” he says, pointing to excessive ranges of individualism in international locations just like the UK and the Netherlands, and far decrease ranges in Asian international locations like Japan and China. . and South Korea, the place the speed of work from home can be a lot decrease.

“That is another excuse why the US tends to get a variety of consideration,” provides Mortensen.

Actually, an evaluation by the worldwide economists behind G-SWA reveals that two-thirds of the distinction between international locations could be defined by their ranges of collectivism versus individualism.

It actually appears to rely on folks in several international locations to say about how prepared they’re to just accept a return to the workplace. Randstad’s 2024 recruiter Work monitorwhich surveyed 35,000 staff worldwide, discovered that Britons are much more dedicated to working from residence than their friends on the continent.

The concept of recruitment, job application, contract and employment in business.  Forwarding the resume to the recruiter to review the applicant's profile.
Within the Netherlands, the share of distant job purposes is 5 instances increased than the share of distant job listings.

Drawn by Us—Getty Photographs

When requested if they’d give up if their employer tried to pressure them to work extra from the workplace, 55% of respondents within the UK stated sure, in comparison with solely 23-26% of respondents in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, 29% of Spaniards and 30 % of Swedes.

Is it essential?

Demand for versatile working hours stays widespread, with workers in low-WFH international locations equivalent to Greece and Turkey expressing a need to work at home, corresponding to their counterparts within the UK

Within the Netherlands, in the meantime, telecommuting purposes account for a fraction of the entire variety of purposes 5 instances increased than the share of distant job listings.

There aren’t any indicators that this choice will change, at the least not but. “Our knowledge reveals that professionals are reluctant to surrender the flexibleness and work-life stability that comes with distant and hybrid roles, with excessive competitors for these jobs,” says LinkedIn profession knowledgeable Charlotte Davis.

If worker choice for versatile working persists, you possibly can anticipate extra concessions from firms vying for prime expertise, particularly the place WFH is at the moment much less entrenched.

That is very true if laws or union coverage enshrines the best to work at home.

A focused teacher explains the project to the students in the meeting room at the enterprise.
Microsoft and Meta reveal a “degradation of social relationships” on account of folks not working collectively face-to-face.

Getty Photographs

Mortensen, nonetheless, shouldn’t be satisfied. “It drives me loopy when folks use [pandemic era] knowledge and stated it labored throughout COVID, which was an enormous existential scare and folks had no different possibility… the corporate not collapsing in two years does not imply telecommuting is one of the best ways to prepare. »

He factors to what firms like Microsoft and Meta are discovering concerning the “degradation of social relationships” on account of folks not working collectively face-to-face, the dearth of “inculturation” of recent entrants, and the decline in creativity and collaboration that comes with it. increased ranges. homework.

“We all know that what works for organizations typically works for people. Individuals really feel engaged and motivated by doing one thing new and revolutionary, so possibly [being in the office] it is good not just for the corporate, but in addition for me,” says Mortensen.

In different phrases, if an excessive amount of time spent at residence hurts productiveness, and for that matter, profession progress and job safety, it should not look engaging to workers.

In any case, we’re nonetheless coping with comparatively new mechanisms which have unknown long-term penalties. The state of affairs remains to be evolving, as is our understanding of handle it as employers and the way we strategy it as workers, and that applies wherever you reside.

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