A surprising new study has suggested that ‘teleworking’ (remote working from home) could lead to an increase in births throughout Europe – at a time when birth rates all over the bloc (particularly in Portugal) have been declining.
The reason hasn’t got anything to do with people being freer to play hookie and dive into bed together. It is more to do with a ‘change in levels of satisfaction’, explain reports.
Before the pandemic – when most people were commuting into offices and generally racing against the clock – the ‘norm’ was to arrive home at the end of the day ‘exhausted’.
Now, with so many workers waking up with their work tools (computers) in the living room, hours spent commuting or otherwise absent from home have suddenly been added to people’s days as a kind of bonus.
Stress levels have reduced, says the study formulated by Coimbra Business School and the University of Malaga; productivity in most cases has increased, while people generally are ‘happier with their work lives’.
All this COULD lead to couples deciding to have a baby (when before they couldn’t see how they would ever have the time for one), or to parents who have only one child, deciding to have another.
It’s certainly a theory – presented under the title “Getting a balance in the life satisfaction determinants of full-time and part-time European workers” – but whether it is valid is another matter.
Says the study, once the pandemic is over, businesses and employers should build on the successes of teleworking, and try and come up with strategies that help ‘invert’ the previous tendency that has seen less and less children being born in almost all European countries.
In Portugal’s case, the average number of children born is down to 1.38 per woman of child-bearing age. This is one of the lowest rates in Europe.
Tragically other studies however have suggested that due to the social and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, Portugal’s birth rates are more than likely to plummet further in the short-term future – while even life expectancy is set to drop (due to the reduction in the quality of healthcare being offered as a result of pressure on hospitals).