Bachelet, M., Kalkuhl, M., Koch, N.

What If Working from Home Will Stick? Distributional and Climate Impacts for Germany

in IZA Discussion Paper, 01.08.2021

Peer Review , Sustainable Resource Management and Global Change , Economic Growth and Human Development

The COVID-19 pandemic created the largest experiment in working from home. We study
how persistent telework may change energy and transport consumption and costs in
Germany to assess the distributional and environmental implications when working from
home will stick. Based on data from the German Microcensus and available classifications
of working-from-home feasibility for different occupations, we calculate the change in
energy consumption and travel to work when 15% of employees work full time from
home. Our findings suggest that telework translates into an annual increase in heating
energy expenditure of 110 euros per worker and a decrease in transport expenditure of 840
euros per worker. All income groups would gain from telework but high-income workers
gain twice as much as low-income workers. The value of time saving is between 1.3 and
6 times greater than the savings from reduced travel costs and almost 9 times higher for
high-income workers than low-income workers. The direct effects on CO2 emissions due to
reduced car commuting amount to 4.5 millions tons of CO2, representing around 3 percent
of carbon emissions in the transport sector.