August 2021

IZA DP No. 14642: What If Working from Home Will Stick? Distributional and Climate Impacts for Germany

Marion Bachelet, Matthias Kalkuhl, Nicolas Koch

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.