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Poll: Solid support for continued telecommuting post-pandemic

Telecommuting could affect housing markets and population development across the country, one researcher says.

Working from home can save considerable amounts of time and money by eliminating the physical commute to the office. Image: Niko Mannonen / Yle

There seems to be strong support in Finland for continued remote work once the novel coronavirus pandemic subsides. According to a poll conducted for Yle by pollster Taloustutkimus, more than one million people in Finland have retreated to their homes to work during the crisis -- and roughly half them want to continue telecommuting either all or most of the time in the future.

"One interesting outcome of the research is that Finns really like telecommuting. More than half of working-age people would also work remotely during normal times," Taloustutkimus director of research and customer relations Juho Rahkonen said.

"The surge in telecommuting is not only driven by necessity or fear of the virus, but many people have secretly hoped that they could stay at home [and work] in their track suits," Rahkonen added.

"Remote working is extremely well-suited to Finns' national character. We don't mind if the nearest person is a kilometre away," he declared.

The research director speculated that the popularity of telecommuting is also due to the fact that people save time and money if they can avoid the physical commute to work.

"You can even have flexibility with the way you dress, since there's no need to think about how you look at the home office."

He said that productivity at the home office might even be greater than at work.

"There is social interaction at the office. You can stop to chat with colleagues over a cup of coffee and improve the world. You miss all of this at home so a well-planned remote working day can be very efficient," he explained.

Support high among white collar workers

In the Helsinki region, telecommuters are mainly clerical and supervisory workers as well as public sector staff and employees of trade unions and other white collar personnel. Many freelancers, micro entrepreneurs and self-employed people also work from home.

According to the Taloustutkimus survey, half of respondents said they would be happy to work from home whenever possible, with women (56 percent) more in favour of telecommuting than men (46 percent).

The concept is most popular among 30- to 44-year-olds in the Helsinki region as well as in Turku and Tampere. It was least appealing to workers in the 20- to 29-year age group.

Broader impact on society

A little less than one-third of respondents told researchers that they wanted to work from home more often. Rahkonen said this could revolutionalise working life.

"Finland is looking at an incredible telecommuting boom and digital transformation. You could forecast that working life will change almost permanently if 300,000 people [say they] plan to continue working from home after coronavirus. New remote working habits will be adopted by the majority of Finns," the pollster declared.

He added that this would in turn have a broader impact on society.

"One important point is that the telecommuting boom could also affect housing markets and population development throughout the country. It could slow urbanisation because work can be done from further afield as well," he declared.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,401 respondents for the survey in early April. The poll's margin of error was +/-2.5 percentage points.