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Remote work in France - statistics & facts

To cope with the COVID-19 epidemic, France has opted for extensive use of teleworking. In March 2020, nearly one person in three worked exclusively or occasionally remotely, while regular teleworkers represented only five percent of the population in 2019.

Telework, formerly based on a voluntary basis and at the employer's discretion, tended to concern certain types of sectors or employees more than others. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has reshuffled the cards: the French government has imposed containment measures on the whole national territory, introducing major restrictions on the comings and goings of the French. Thus, many companies have had to adapt and have allowed their employees, as much as possible, to work from their place of residence. Based on estimates, nearly 30 percent of the French working population worked from home during the period of containment, representing nine times more than the usual share.

Not all French workers experienced the same standards: while 31 to 42 percent of workers, employees and self-employed people went to their place of work because teleworking was impossible for them, 61 percent of managers and senior professionals were able to work remotely, and three quarters of them had experienced telework for several days since the beginning of the crisis.

This has raised the question of telework being the privilege of higher socio-professional categories. However, the reality is more complex. Indeed, between the difficulties of setting up a dedicated and adapted workspace, disconnecting from work, the psychosocial risks linked to isolation, and the erosion of bonds between colleagues, working remotely can sometimes be a challenge. And it seems that it has been more challenging for women during the containment period: compared to men, they were almost 1.3 times less likely to have an isolated space, and 1.5 times more likely to be frequently interrupted by something other than work, like children, housework, or deliveries.

Still, there are also advantages to teleworking. First and foremost, the French list the financial savings, followed by the increased autonomy. These advantages also seem to have attracted French managers, the majority of whom wish to continue to work remotely. With more than three quarters of French managers having a positive opinion, and increasingly aware of the benefits of this practice, telework could develop in the next years. In addition, after two years of the pandemic, employees' teleworking habits have settled down, and what was initially a constraint is now more of a plebiscite. In the organization of work, telework is thus taking its place in a perennial way, and the practice should last beyond the health crisis.

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