Finns were leading the pack in Europe in switching to remote work as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and have coped well with the situation without a negative psychological impact, experts of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) were quoted by the Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet as saying on Monday.
The experts commented on the findings of a recent survey conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), a European Union (EU) agency.
In Finland, 59 percent of employees were working from home during the pandemic, while in the whole of Europe the respective figure was 37 percent. Only 9 percent of Finnish respondents said they felt lonely during the lockdown, while in France, for example, 23 percent complained about being isolated, the survey showed.
The FIOH explained the results by the country’s high level of digitalisation and top-notch technical infrastructure. Added to this was Finland’s open and casual workplace culture.
Finland has been a leader in remote work for over a decade now, so the health crisis did not catch the country unprepared. Statistics Finland records show that just before the COVID-19 pandemic over a third of the nation’s workforce had already done remote work when needed. back in 2018, the share Finnish employees working remotely was already 28 percent.
Commenting on the survey’s results, specialist Virpi Ruohomaki said she was surprised. “We have so many single person households, and I would have presumed that the lack of workplace contacts would have mattered more,” she told Hufvudstadsbladet.
Ruohomaki also said the possibility of going out into the nature must have helped her compatriots. Although the use of public transport was discouraged, the country’s parks and forests remained open and were often so full that the authorities had to remind the public of the need to keep a safe distance.
The survey also showed that the employees in Finland are emerging from the crisis relatively unscathed. Sixty-nine percent of the survey respondents described their state of health as good or very good.
Furthermore, 75 percent of the Finns polled said they looked optimistically to the future.
Ruohomaki said that the findings should be carefully studied. “Remote working may become necessary in the future for environmental reasons, transport problems or something we do not yet know,” she said.