Most German employees appreciate working from home despite mental stress: survey

Almost three in four Germans who work from home appreciated the advantages compared with their peers working at the office, according to a survey published by WIdO, the research institute of the German health insurance association AOK.

The survey identified “the great advantages” of working at home, which included more independence and more autonomy for employees to make decisions.

Around 40 percent of employees in Germany do not work in company offices on a regular basis, the survey noted.

“Digitalization is currently regarded as the most important driver of change” in the way people work, stated the survey. Many Germans surveyed who were working at home also appreciated the advantage of more flexible working times.

However, the survey also found that people working from home would feel greater psychological burdens than people who only work at their workplace. Many would find it difficult to “switch off” at the end of a working day and were carrying undone work into evenings and weekends.

“The line between job and private life becomes blurrier. This increases the risk that recovery phases will shrink,” said Helmut Schroeder, deputy managing director of WIdO.

As a result, more than 73 percent of employees who frequently worked in what Germans call “home office” felt exhausted. For employees who exclusively worked in the office, this figure was only 66 percent.

“Exhaustion, concentration problems, sleep disorders. People who work a lot from home suffer from such problems more often than other employees. Nevertheless, flexible working conditions have many advantages. It is important to design working conditions that are beneficial to health,” said Schroeder.

For the survey, published as part of the “Absence Report 2019,” which analyzes reasons for absence from work in Germany, the WIdO interviewed around 2,000 German employees between the ages of 16 and 65.

According to the report, which was based on data of 13.9 million people insured by the AOK, employees in Germany were absent from work for 19.9 days a year on average because of medical reasons.