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Working from home? You’re still in the minority.

Most workers globally can’t work a full day from home without suffering productivity losses, according to a McKinsey Global Institute analysis of more than 2,000 job tasks across more than 800 occupations. That’s because most of their tasks need to be done on-site.

While the majority of the workforce cannot work remotely, up to one quarter in advanced economies can do so three to five days a week.

Workforce with remote-work potential by number of days per week, % of 2018 workforce. Number of days per week of potential remote work without productivity lost (effective potential)1
Country Economy type 3 to 5 days (example occupations: financial managers, market research analyst, statisticians 1 to 2 days (example occupations: civil engineers, physicists, psychologists) <1 day (example occupations: barbers, firefighters, aircraft cargo handlers)
Germany Advanced 27 15 57
UK Advanced 26 22 52
US Advanced 22 17 61
Japan Advanced 22 17 61
France Advanced 21 19 59
Spain Advanced 18 18 63
Mexico Emerging 15 11 74
China Emerging 11 10 79
India Emerging 5 15 79


Note: Numbers may not sum to 100%, because of rounding.

1The effective potential includes only those activities that can be done remotely without losing effectiveness. Model based on more than 2,000 activities across more than 800 occupations.

Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis

McKinsey & Company

To read more, see “What’s next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries,” November 23, 2020.