Telework, and for the most part, on a full-time basis, was suddenly thrust upon the world in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and firmly established itself. Many workers found themselves working from home in this way from the very first lockdowns implemented in March 2020. In fact, as many as 40% of all European workers were immediately faced with full-time teleworking and yet, 50% of the employees who started teleworking during the pandemic had had no previous experience of it¹. As we put telework into place both for our clients and for ourselves, our thoughts led to wondering about telework in other countries: was it a practice that elsewhere had only been moderately used before the pandemic as was the case in France? What conclusions could be drawn from the practice of telework once the health crisis was over? What was to become of this sudden and considerable recourse to a new way of working? We therefore decided to write a White Paper on the subject of telework, bringing together our own findings here in France with the experiences of other countries in Europe, and more notably those of our close neighbours Germany, Spain and Italy. The objective of our White Paper is to present the evolution of telework as a practice in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, both before, during and after the pandemic. The main finding is that telework has gone from being a forced upon necessity during the health crisis, to being indispensable even in post-Covid times. It is a practice that is now wanted by the main players in the European labour market, be they employees or employers, and where each player has found this new way of work organization to have definite advantages.
The figures speak for themselves concerning the newfound appetite for telework: it is in Germany that it is the most practised with 61% of the working population teleworking, closely followed by Italy with 56% of the working population, against 43% in Spain and only 34% in France². Italy has the highest number of employees teleworking almost full-time on 4-5 days a week (30% of the workforce compared to 11% in France) and teleworking 2 to 3 days a week is again more commonly practised in Italy (17% of the workforce, compared to 14% in France)³. We thought it would be interesting to provide an overview of the regulations in force, which are evolving and which in some cases, draw lessons from the situation experienced during the health crisis itself. The European Council called on Member States to report back on the opportunities and risks of telework and have subsequently drawn conclusions which summarise the main concerns of the different stakeholders in the European labour markets⁴. The European social partners have undertaken to negotiate a directive on telework and the right to disconnect. Discussions and negotiations started on 3 October 2022, and are expected to last around eight months with a view to drafting an agreed upon directive transposable to the Member States in the two years following. From being a somewhat marginal practice, telework has now evolved into an almost everyday and widespread work model. The enthusiasm for this way of working is now confirmed and telework has become a real driver in social progress... however, the need to ensure both the well-being of employees and the performance of companies is arguably still strong as both will see inevitable developments in their concept and meaning.
¹Source: Joint Research Centre – “Telework in the EU before and after the Covid-19: where we were, where we head to”.
²Source: Fondation Jean Jaurès – « Pratiques et représentations associées au télétravail en Europe » – 04/01/2022
⁴Source: The European Council has adopted the teleworking conclusions – Opportunities and risks of hybrid work models – 06/2021