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Working Life Barometer 2020: Coronavirus pandemic causes a huge leap towards remote working

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 22.3.2021 8.40 | Published in English on 22.3.2021 at 8.59
Press release
Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen
Minister of Employment minister Tuula Haatainen

According to preliminary data from the Working Life Barometer, the coronavirus pandemic has increased uncertainty among wage and salary earners about their job security compared to 2019, but to a significantly smaller degree than during any other economic crisis in the 30-year history of the Barometer. Remote work, the use of lay-offs and support measures introduced for companies have alleviated fears of redundancy among wage and salary earners compared with previous economic crises.

“The coronavirus pandemic has hit the labour market hard. We have been able to mitigate the adverse effects by safeguarding people’s livelihoods and providing support to companies. However, the pandemic is not over yet,” says Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

Remote work increased markedly from 2019. About half of wage and salary earners (48%) had worked remotely in 2020. Many worked remotely more frequently than before. It is worth noting that the majority (92%) of those who worked remotely during the epidemic were satisfied with the arrangement. The coronavirus pandemic brought nearly a decade’s leap towards remote work.

As a result of the coronavirus, the workload increased for about one-third of wage and salary earners (31%) and decreased for around one-sixth of them (18%). The workload increased especially for women, clerical workers and wage and salary earners in the municipal sector.

Progress in digitalisation in terms of equipment and organisation of work

The results of the Working Life Barometer show a huge digital leap at work. New working methods were implemented more commonly at workplaces in 2020. The share of people using electronic workspaces and instant messaging services in their work increased significantly from 2019. The change is visible in all sectors and socioeconomic groups.

“The digital development during the pandemic has been more than just electrifying processes. The change has been much broader and comprehensive. It has brought new ways of learning, working and communicating. This positive development in digitalisation helps Finland’s international success as one of the leading countries in innovation and skills,” Haatainen adds.  

Participation in education and the number of working days spent on education decreased compared with the last survey. The coronavirus time has moved education and training online, with more wage and salary earners studying with online materials in 2020 than before.

“Not being tied to a certain place enables work and entrepreneurship anywhere. This could have positive effects both on employment and emissions reductions, for example. Finland’s success depends on our ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by change. Employers should pay more attention to continuous learning, because it will become more important,” Haatainen says.

What is the Working Life Barometer?

Conducted since 1992, the Working Life Barometer is a sample study that examines the development of the quality of working life from the viewpoint of Finnish employees. The data for 2020 is based on telephone interviews conducted by Statistics Finland in August and September in connection with the Labour Force Survey. 1,647 wage and salary earners responded to the barometer study in 2020. The data can reliably be generalised to apply to employees everywhere in Finland and in all sectors.

The results of the Working Life Barometer are published in two parts: preliminary data is traditionally released in the spring and the final report at the end of the year.


Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430
Marianne Keyriläinen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 504 7009 or firstname.lastname(at)tem.fi

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