Teleworking

02 Iulie 2020

Teleworking refers to a form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employer’s premises, is carried out away from those premises, on a regular basis, as defined inRead more

Teleworking refers to a form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work, which could also be performed at the employer’s premises, is carried out away from those premises, on a regular basis, as defined in the European framework agreement on telework. The characteristic feature of telework is the use of computers and telecommunications to change the usual location of work.

ICT-based mobile work can be defined as the use of information and communications technologies (ICT), such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and/or desktop computers, for work that is performed outside the employer’s premises.  For most employees, mobile work could be considered a variation of telework, where workers carry out their job from a fixed location outside the employer’s premises. The difference is that ICT-based mobile workers work in a range of locations and specifically use ICT to connect to shared company computer systems. Different levels of telework/ICT mobile work intensity and range of places at which individuals work might potentially have different consequences for working conditions.

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Recent updates

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EU context

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Information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionised work and life in the 21st century. Advances in ICT have opened the door to new ways of working.Read more

Information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionised work and life in the 21st century. Advances in ICT have opened the door to new ways of working. Teleworking and ICT-based mobile work have become subsumed into a package of flexible working arrangements aimed at modernising the organisation of work. Policymakers in many EU countries are debating the rapid change in the way we work and the knock-on implications on other aspects of our daily lives, like work organisation, work–life balance, health and well-being.

The European framework agreement on telework, signed by the EU-level social partners in 2002, defines telework and sets up a general framework at European level for the working conditions of teleworkers. It aims at reconciling the needs for flexibility and security shared by employers and workers. Since then, technological developments have contributed to expanding this work arrangement and paving the way for a higher level of mobility of workers to work remotely.

Since early 2020, as a result of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has rapidly spread far and wide across the globe, many employers and employees have defaulted to teleworking, which may potentially alter the way we work into the future. This shift provides opportunities for businesses and helps workers to keep their employment, but also presents challenges around health and work–life balance linked to the blurring of boundaries, long working hours and constant availability. In response to the pandemic, national administrations and EU institutions have also activated business continuity plans and requested the majority of their staff to telework for the foreseeable future, which includes Eurofound itself. Being in a position to telework has allowed many organisations and businesses to retain jobs and many workers to improve their work–life balance in situations of school closures. 

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European Industrial Relations Dictionary

Research

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In 2015 in the EU, around one-fifth of workers did some form of telework from home or engaged in ICT-based mobile work, meaning they work, either occasionally or regularly, from somewhere other than a main place of work, heavily depending on mobile devicesRead more

In 2015 in the EU, around one-fifth of workers did some form of telework from home or engaged in ICT-based mobile work, meaning they work, either occasionally or regularly, from somewhere other than a main place of work, heavily depending on mobile devices. COVID-19 has increased this figure. 

Drawing on previous research, as well as data from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), Eurofound analysis on telework and ICT-based mobile (TICTM) work looks at how flexibility of working time and worker autonomy impacts on employment and working conditions in this digital age, focusing on how it affects work–life balance, health, performance and job prospects.  

Joint research by Eurofound and the International Labour Organization (ILO) examined the impact of telework and ICT-based mobile work at various locations (home, office or another location) on work–life balance, also drawing on EWCS data. ICT-based mobile work is also one of several new forms of employment on the rise in the EU being studied by Eurofound. 

Teleworking and COVID-19

On 9 April 2020, Eurofound launched an e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, to capture the most immediate changes during the pandemic and their impact, with the aim of helping to shape the response to this crisis. Among a range of questions, respondents are being asked about their work situation, their level of teleworking during COVID-19 and the impact on work–life balance. The first findings confirm an increase in telework across the EU Member States. 

The research shows that teleworking has taken off in all EU countries with over a third of those in employment starting to work remotely as a result of the pandemic. Addressing the needs of remote workers who cannot avail of care services will be a key requirement as a new working context emerges. Over a quarter of all those working remotely have children under 12, with 22% of this large group reporting they struggle much more than other groups to concentrate on work and achieve an adequate work–life balance. But the challenges go beyond work–life balance: The blurring of boundaries, constant connectivity and long working hours can represent a problem for the mental and physical well-being of workers. For this reason, more and more countries are contemplating measures related to the right to disconnect. 

The full impact of the pandemic remains to be seen, but COVID-19 could permanently change teleworking and ICT-based mobile work in the EU and beyond. The first wave of the survey is now closed and a second wave will be launched in late June.

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Publications & data

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The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic. 

  • Publications (45)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (1)

Data

A selection of related data on this topic are linked below. 

Ongoing work

Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.

Living, working and COVID-19

Publication Septembrie 2020

 

Other ongoing work

  • The right to disconnect in Europe