The ability to telework provided an important source of resilience for people, firms and places during the pandemic. In OECD countries, teleworking grew from around 16% of employees before the crisis to around 37% during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the focus was squarely on cities. Urban density and shared spaces contributed to surging case numbers and deaths: before June, the rise in excess deaths was more than three times higher in large metropolitan areas compared to remote regions. But rural areas still reeled from the economic impacts. Businesses closed to comply with containment measures, trade slowed, and tourism activity all but ceased.