Our Digital Offices Are Worlds Apart
A worker types on his laptop in his dining room while working from home with a pet dog sitting next to him in Stow Maries, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Our Digital Offices Are Worlds Apart


When people say “work from home,” the suffix “online” is generally understood. So as companies consider the future of in-person offices, employees face working full time with whatever hope-and-a-prayer home internet they’ve cobbled together.

Such realities will vary widely by location, according to Surfshark’s recent Digital Quality of Life Index 2020, which assessed 85 countries on five metrics: internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic government and electronic security.

The 10 countries with the best digital quality of life, or DQL, were Denmark, Sweden, Canada, France, Norway, Netherlands, the U.K., Israel, Japan and Poland. The bottom 10 were Lebanon, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Guatemala, Pakistan, Algeria and Honduras.

Those tracking the “America in decline” narrative will note that the U.S. didn’t make the top 15 in four out of the five DQL metrics (it was third in e-government) and came in 22nd in the overall global ranking, behind Estonia and Lithuania.

Although higher per-capita gross domestic product had a strong correlation with better DQL, several countries bucked this trend, including Greece, Azerbaijan, Russia and China. Poland is especially notable: Not only did it outperform countries like Germany and Singapore, but it also did so at a much lower cost.

The issue of cost raises another key question for home workers, because, on average, individuals must work three hours, 48 minutes a month to pay for even the cheapest broadband connection. However, this duration varies dramatically by location: In Nigeria, it is nine hours, 42 minutes; in America, 52 minutes; and in Canada, 7 minutes. As companies around the world save money on rent and other office overheads, will they ensure their staff are fully compensated for the expense of working from home?

Our Digital Offices Are Worlds Apart

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Ben Schott is a Bloomberg Opinion visual columnist. He created the Schott’s Original Miscellany and Schott’s Almanac series, and writes for newspapers and magazines around the world.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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