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Cambridge-INET Institute   COVID-19 Economic Research


Before the pandemic working from home was often perceived as a luxury, which not many workers had the right or possibility to engage in.

Now it has become the new normal. This raises the question of how much work could theoretically be done from home? In order to answer this question Abi Adams-Prassl (University of Oxford), Teodora Boneva (University of Zurich), Marta Golin (University Oxford), and Christopher Rauh (University of Cambridge) look at how much of their work almost 25,000 workers in the US and UK can do from home.

On average workers can do about 40% of their tasks from home. This average masks a lot of systematic variation. Many workers can do none of their tasks from home while others can do all. However, the great majority can do an intermediate share of their tasks from home.

There are clear patterns in terms of which jobs can, on average, do more or less tasks from home. For instance, software developers can usually do a lot of their work from home, architectures intermediate amounts, and retail clerks almost none. Other occupations have workers that can do all or none of their tasks from home, such as office and administrative occupations. These variations are not only important in order to understand which occupations and industries were hit hardest by the pandemic, but also for the design of furloughing and short-time work policies.

The reported share of tasks that can be done from home has been increasing over the course of the pandemic, in particular for jobs that many could do from home already. This trend suggests that jobs might be polarizing as firms and workers are adapting to the new situation.


Figure 1 - Work Tasks That Can Be Done From Home


Read the paper in full:

Work Tasks That Can Be Done From Home: Evidence on the Variation Within and Across Occupations and Industries, Abi Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, and Christopher Rauh (Cambridge-INET Working Paper 2023).


Dr. Rauh's research was featured in the following media outlets:


The Guardian


Dr Christopher Rauh

About the author
Dr. Christopher Rauh is a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge. His research interests are in Macroeconomics, Political Economy, Labour Economics.