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Working from home is primarily an option in metropolitan areas. In cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, or Stuttgart, more than 57 percent of all employees could work mainly or entirely from home, finds an analysis conducted by the infas Institute for Applied Social Sciences and the ifo Institute. This is the first time that the authors, led by ifo researcher Jean-Victor Alipour and Robert Follmer (infas), have been able to present findings on the geographical distribution of the potential for working from home and its prevalence.

“The service sector has a particularly strong presence in metropolitan areas, and there is a great deal of potential in this sector for work to be done from home,” Alipour says. The data shows above-average potential for many districts adjacent to cities, especially around Munich and Frankfurt. While the potential in Dresden is also above average, the figure for its surrounding municipalities reaches only around 52 percent.

An analysis of working from home, based on monthly measurements since spring 2020, shows that it also reaches a particularly high rate of over 31 percent in districts surrounding Berlin and Munich. Its prevalence is low, at less than 21 percent, in many districts in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein.

The difference between potential and prevalence equates to the work-from-home gap. “Many opportunities for working from home remain untapped, especially in northwestern Germany,” Follmer says. In contrast, employees in the Berlin area and in Bavaria work more frequently from home, measured against the theoretically possible capacity.

The analysis is based on surveys conducted by the ifo Institute, the infas Institute, and its corporate sister infas 360 as well as data from the coronavirus data platform, which was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The calculations to regionalize the survey data were performed by infas 360.

Source: ifo Institute

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