If Remote Work Is Here To Stay, How Can We Make It Work For Everyone?

BANNER IMAGE - Remote Work Paper
The shift to home office, or remote work, is one of the lasting effects of the pandemic. But how do we make sure that it works for everyone? And what have countries put in place to accompany this transition? In our new white paper, “How to make remote work, work for everyone,” we outline some of the challenges linked to the implementation of remote work and compare legislation in place across 16 countries.
June 15, 2021
Future of Work
Inclusive Futures
Labour Market Policy

Remote work is here to stay. At least, that’s what numerous researches suggest. When The Adecco Group surveyed 8,000 office-based workers, managers, and C-level executive in 8 countries, the results were striking: 74% of workers would like a mix of office-based and remote work in the future and 79% of C-Suite leaders believe that business will benefit from allowing increased flexibility.

Yet, implementing remote work and hybrid work models does not come without challenges. From a risk of rising inequalities, drop in productivity and uncertainty around taxes, costs, and wages, the transition toward hybrid work models will not be a success-story unless accompanied by the adequate policies.

Some countries have walked the talk and have put in place legislative framework around remote work. The Adecco Group’s White Paper “How to make remote work, work for everyone” offers a comparative overview of the state of the legislation around remote work in 16 countries and outline a set of recommendations for employers to take action and governments to implement policies to successfully accompany this transition toward the future of work.

The Challenges of the Remote Work Model

The long-term implementation of both remote work and flexible types of work in a post-pandemic reality does not come without challenges, both from an organizational point of view and a regulatory point of view.

Some of the main challenges include:

  • Inequality: if unregulated, remote work could worsen inequalities, as not all workers enjoy the same access to this model. Inequalities may also arise between workers who decide to return to the workplace and those who do not.
  • Productivity: to ensure that remote work goes hand-in-hand with an increased productivity, a strong focus should be put on workers’ physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Cost, wages and taxes: working remotely implies new costs and new ways of calculating wages and taxes. On the company level, employers should make clear which costs are incumbent to whom. In addition, governments should adapt a new tax system to assist this new way of working.
  • Cybersecurity and IT tools: the spread of the remote work model has made businesses even more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Investments in IT tools are crucial. The reskilling and upskilling of the workforce will also enable employees to embrace the full potential of the remote work model.
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A Country-by-Country Analysis

It’s true that remote work is already partially regulated at the international level through organizations like the ILO Conventions (International Labour Organization) and EU Directives. Some countries have also framed the conditions of remote work at their national level as well. In our whitepaper, we discuss this regulatory environment in 16 different countries and offer a comparative overview.

In almost all the countries we examined, a remote work arrangement is the result of mutual agreement between the employer and the employees. Most of the time, this agreement must be formalised in a written contract. Moreover, six countries give employees the right to request such an arrangement to the employer that the employer has the duty to consider, and must give a justified answer within a specific time range. In addition, three Governments -- Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands -- have implemented tax incentives and subsidies to accompany the transition toward a hybrid work model to promote the adoption of remote work.

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Our Policy Recommendations

To ensure that remote work is implemented in an inclusive, sustainable, and secure way, we urge both governments and employers to take action -- now.
On the government level, officials should take the follow actions:

  • Build a Framework: Provide a legislative framework for remote work.
  • Address Inequalities: Promote remote wok for under-privileged groups and underserved populations.
  • Invest in Infrastructure: Investing in infrastructure will close the connectivity-divide between urban and rural areas.
  • Consider Taxes: adapt the tax system for remote work and engage in bi- or multilateral tax negotiations to avoid a double tax burden for remote workers.
  • Reskill: Support companies’ endeavour to reskill and upskill the workforce.

We urge employers to:

  • Address Inequalities: redesign jobs to enable remote work whenever possible, to allow a greater section of the population more flexibility.
  • Invest in Infrastructure: invest in ICT infrastructures and improve your cybersecurity to make remote work a safe option for the company.
  • Reskill and Upskill: determine the digital skill gap of the workforce and upskill whenever possible to allow workers to feel comfortable navigating their work-from-home situation.
  • Management: promote a management based on empathy, agility, and creativity

Remote work could be a turning point in the world of work. With the adequate policies in place, its long-term implementation will boost productivity, foster a better work-life balance, and address the talent scarcity. It is crucial to accompany the transition to make it inclusive, fair, and profitable. The Adecco Group is committed to make the future work for everyone, remotely or not, and as such we prompt social partners to engage in the topic.