In 2019, 18.9 % of the employees sometimes or usually worked from home, compared to 7.4 % in 1999. This is what emerged from the figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, based on the Labour Force Survey.
Home working means all the work carry out from home. It does not necessarily involve telework, which is made possible by a telecommunication connection.
Women work more often from home than men
For years, there was barely any difference between the percentage of female employees who worked from home and that of their male colleagues, but these past few years, the share of women working from home is much higher than that of men. In 2019, 20.4 % of female employees sometimes or usually worked from home, compared to 17.4 % of men (graph 1).
Graph 1: percentage of employees who sometimes or usually work from home (2019)
Highest percentage of homeworkers among employees residing in Brussels
Working from home is most common for employees living in Brussels: in 2019, almost 24 % sometimes or usually worked from home. For employees living in Flanders and in Wallonia, the percentages amounted to 20 % and 14.8 %, respectively (table 1).
Even higher percentages for employees working in Brussels
Home working is even more common among employees working in Brussels than among those living there. In 2019, 29.8 % of the employees with a workplace in Brussels sometimes or usually worked from home. For employees with a workplace in Flanders or in Wallonia, the percentages amounted to 18.1 % and 13.6 %, respectively (table 1). For employees living in Belgium but working abroad, about 1/5 worked from home in 2019.
Highly-skilled people in particular work from home
It is striking that the share of homeworkers is much higher among highly-skilled people than among medium-skilled and low-skilled people. In 2019, 35.6 % of the highly-skilled employees sometimes or usually worked from home. For medium-skilled and low-skilled people, this share amounted to 6.7 % and 2.7 %, respectively (table 1).
Percentage of employees who sometimes or usually work from home (2019)
|Place of residence:||Brussels-Capital Region||23.9%|
|Level of education:||Low-skilled people||2.7%|
Home working is most common for higher positions
The fact that the percentage of homeworkers is much higher among highly-skilled people than among medium-skilled and low-skilled people maybe has something to do with the kind of work carried out. If we take a look at the percentage of employees who regularly or occasionally work from home per occupational group, we can see that home working is more common in higher positions. 44.6 % of managers worked from home in 2019 (Table 2). Among intellectual, scientific and artistic professionals, the percentage was even slightly higher (45.1 %). Very few blue collar workers work from home. Of course, this has a lot to do with the nature of the work carried out, which is less suitable for distance working.
Table: Employees: percentage of homeworkers per occupational group (2019)
|Technicians and associate professionals||17.2%|
|Clerical support workers||11.8%|
|Service and sales workers||4.7%|
|Craft and related trades workers||2.8%|
|Plant and machine operators, and assemblers||1.0%|
|* Only the large occupational groups are taken into account|
Home working is most common in the sectors ‘Education’ and ‘Information and communication’ and least common in the sectors ‘Transportation and storage’ and ‘Human health and social work activities’
The percentage of homeworkers also varies greatly according to the sector in which they work. The highest percentage of employees working from home was registered in 2019 in the sector ‘Education’. In this sector, more than 52 % sometimes or usually worked from home (table 3). It is not illogical that the highest figure is registered in the education sector, since teachers who prepare their lessons and correct tests at home are included in those figures. 45.3 % of employees in the sector ‘Information and communication’ sometimes or usually worked from home. ‘Extraterritorial organisations and bodies’ (a.o. international organisations) rank third with 40.6 %. The sectors where home working was the least common in 2019 are: ‘Transportation and storage’ (7.4 %), ‘Human health and social work activities’ (8.6 %) and ‘Construction’ (9.5 %).
Percentage of employees who sometimes or usually work from home per sector* (2019)
|G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles||10.3%|
|H Transportation and storage||7.4%|
|J Information and communication||45.3%|
|K Financial and insurance activities||38.5%|
|M Professional, scientific and technical activities||32.2%|
|N Administrative and support service activities||11.6%|
|O Public administration and defence; compulsory social security||19.1%|
|Q Human health and social work activities||8.6%|
|R Arts, entertainment and recreation||17.7%|
|S Other service activities||26.9%|
|U Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies||40.6%|
|*Only the large sectors are taken into account|
Large differences within the EU
The percentage of employees who sometimes or usually work from home varies greatly in Europe (graph 2). Sweden registered in 2018 the highest percentage of homeworkers (31.1 %), followed by the Netherlands (30.9 %). Luxembourg ranks third (27.3 %). Belgium ranked eighth in 2018, with a percentage of 16.8 %, just behind France (16.9 %). In 2018, employees barely worked from home in Bulgaria (0.6 %), Romania (0.7 %) and Cyprus (1.6 %). The EU average (28 countries) stood at 11.7 %.
Chart 2: Percentage of employees who sometimes or usually work from home - European comparison (2018)
Source: Eurostat, Labour Force Survey
The data above come from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). In this survey, employees are asked if, during the month preceding the survey, they never, sometimes (= less than 50 % of working days), usually (= 50 % of working days or more) or always (= every day) worked from home. When we talk about 'usually' in the text, the people who always work from home are also included.
The figures refer to the year 2019 or 2018 (European comparison), a period where there was no talk yet of the coronavirus. The figures for 2020 will give an overview of the home working frequency in a period where people were called upon to (temporarily) work at home as much as possible because of the coronavirus.