Urban high earners more likely to be home office-ready

The new office, for some. Keystone / Mohamed Messara

High-income workers, mostly concentrated in urban areas, are better able to work from home and thus bear the effects of the shutdown, research from the University of Basel has found.

This content was published on April 21, 2020 - 16:38

“As expected,” strategic, administrative, or creative jobs are more likely to be able to be done remotely than technical, client-focused, or artisanal roles, the study found.

The “home office indexExternal link” prepared by the university’s economics department shows that this has consequences for determining who suffers from the current shut-down and who doesn’t, with disparities across economic, social, and geographical groups.

For instance, some 70% of Swiss workers with annual incomes above CHF130,000 ($134,285) can work at home, compared with around 30% of those with incomes below CHF65,000.

And because many such high-paying jobs are concentrated in cities, the report says, this can reinforce an urban-rural divide between places like Zurich, Zug, and Basel and remote areas (they highlight the Engadine valley in canton Graubünden and the Emmental region in Bern).

As regards cantons, Basel City has the highest percentage of home office ready jobs (67%), while the small region of Appenzell Inner-Rhodes has least (27%). The French and Italian-speaking cantons of Geneva, Vaud, and Ticino also rate highly for home office jobs.

And although it’s the job itself that directly determines whether or not you can work from home – therefore reducing the odds of becoming unemployed or entering short-term unemployment – the study also says that social background, origin, and sex are also unequally impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, since they are factors that influence job choice in the first place.

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