Covid-19, the pandemic that paralyzed the economy in 2020, also left a positive mark by showing that teleworking is a reality that is much more linked to the ability to organize than to the productivity of employees. The demonstration that face-to-face work was not necessary 100% of the working day led to the conviction that teleworking had come to stay. and it has, but to a lesser extent than expected.
“Despite the prospects, the figures show that it is returning to the face-to-face model, especially to the detriment of the usual modality, which is the one that is carried out more than two days a week,” concludes the report on the matter prepared by the Ministry of Economy based on data from the Active Population Survey (EPA)
Teleworking was recommended in the BOE on March 17, 2020 as a preferred work formula. Between the period of confinement in March 2020 and the present – last April the use of masks in closed spaces was no longer mandatory – more than two years have passed.
Yolanda Díaz, Minister of Labor, predicted that teleworking had “come to stay” and in a way it has, but on a smaller scale than expected. In this period of time, teleworking has gone from constituting a revolutionary liberation to being regulated by a new law and it has been discovered that it also has disadvantages.
The fact is that today the implementation of teleworking has grown remarkably thanks to the pandemic. And although in recent quarters its practice has been reduced, 13.1% of the employed population -2.6 million people- do it occasionally or regularly. The figure is 63% higher than at the end of 2019, when remote work was something the vast majority of workers had never experienced on a regular basis.
The study prepared by red.es -a body attached to Economic Affairs- underlines that last year 29% of the employed population believed that teleworking would grow this year over the figures for 2021, when the effects of the third and fourth waves of Covid advised sanitary prudence. After having reached 90% of the population vaccinated in many territories and recommending the removal of masks, the trend towards teleworking has suffered, falling from 16% to 13.1%.
The profiles of people who work remotely continue to be mostly women and in an age group between 35 and 44 years old when working remotely on a regular basis, that is, more than two days a week. In this sense, the self-employed are more likely to work remotely on a regular basis than wage earners, who use more occasional formulas and who are below that limit of two days a week.
By province, Madrid is the community where the practice of teleworking is highest, with 13.5% of the employed population, well above Asturias (9%) or Catalonia (8.8%).
In the coming months, it will be possible to appreciate with greater precision the extent to which teleworking is established in Spain without the umbrella of the health emergency and under the protection of a new legal framework.
The Teleworking Law states that this activity must be voluntary in both directions: the worker cannot demand to take advantage of it if the company does not offer it, nor can the company force teleworking. Everything has to be decided in collective agreements, both in the private company and in the Public Administration, where the current Civil Service negotiations with the unions propose establishing teleworking in its usual modality -three days- in the General State Administration (AGE) . If applied in the rest of the administrations, the current proportion of teleworkers in Spain would experience a strong boost.
The regulation had one of its greatest novelties in the obligation on the part of the company to assume part of the costs -electricity, connections, office automation…- that it supposes for the employee to move the office to home.
Sectors such as banking or the chemical industry have regulated it at a sectoral level, while in other activities the agreement has been transferred to negotiation within the agreement, the agreement provides for the provision of a computer (or tablet, laptop or similar), mobile phone with and sufficient data for the shared connection with the computer and ergonomic chair (at the request of the worker), as well as a keyboard, mouse and screen, in addition to up to 55 euros gross per month as compensation for the worker’s expenses.
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