In these days when isotherms are unleashed, it seems inevitable that we are witnessing new legislative openings, to the insomnia of jurists, social agents, and parties involved, who will have to interpret, negotiate and implement in record time if we do not want to celebrate San Ignacio mired in E.R.T.E., equality plans… and teleworking measures.
It seems clear that confined work and intensive use of new technologies has not been a recipe from which we can get more than a few good ingredients. The rest is sure that, in most homes, it has been a manifestly improvable experience.
Pros And Cons Of Telecommuting
Surely we will agree on each particular analysis of the system’s weaknesses and opportunities, on what pros and cons of teleworking equal each party in the debate.
There are many known advantages for companies (adaptation to possible crises, improvement in attracting talent, implementation of agile and collaborative environments, brand image, reputation, motivation), for workers (conciliation and care of family responsibilities, trust, delegation and autonomy, flexibility, inclusion), for both (savings, healthy workspaces and fewer infections, B.Y.O.D. options) or for society (sustainable extension of working life and pension system guarantees, opportunities for Spain emptied, territorial redistribution of companies, shorter working hours and presenteeism, local tourism, higher consumption, and employment opportunities…).
But there are also unknown ways (productivity, threats from a limiting regulatory framework or one that increases costs) and threats from teleworking in the post-Covid-19 era if we think about the use of what we experienced during the pandemic.
Both for companies and employers (cybersecurity, difficulties in communication and management of collective talent, investments in technology) and for workers (risks of isolation and lack of socialisation, collective rights, ergonomics, techno-stress, circadian cycles, increased gender gap, excessive working hours due to inadequate time management, digital disconnection and task scheduling, controls and privacy, visibility, promotion…) there is homework to do.
It is not new that our regulatory framework has always been one of the vectors that hamper the competitiveness of our economy ( 74th position out of 141 countries ). And this should be a warning for the regulation of teleworking if we do not want to kill the creature in the transition from fasciculus to the Official Gazette on duty.
Examples of regulation that we have in our closest environment: from the smart work of Italy to the visionary French regulation, which regulated cases of forced teleworking during exceptional circumstances and pandemics… sometimes it is better not to invent if among our partners in the European Union already there are many good practices.
Need For Minimum Regulation
Surely teleworking will not only need a minimum regulation in the face of the vacuum of our Workers’ Statute.
The support of collective bargaining, sector, and company, and the complement of other soft law tools (policies, individual agreements) will be necessary if we want the new telework to be sustainable in the future, without affecting the competitiveness of companies and employers, the free choice -and expectations- of workers, or generating more rigidities in the regulatory framework.
It is also necessary to conceptually separate this variant of remote work, as a form of work organisation, from other rights that, although they may benefit directly or indirectly, should not be mixed. Teleworking is not only reconciling or focusing flexibility on the female gender, and a long list of assumptions and confusions that proliferate these days.
Current Regulations For Teleworking
There are aspects where the existing regulations should only require compliance (digital disconnection, time recording, prevention of ergonomic risks, psychosocial risks, and techno-stress) and other areas where it will be necessary to provide legal certainty in aspects yet to be specified (scope of the general duty of protection of the businessman, concept of risk assessment, workplace, and means of protection and prevention, the concept of the accident at work).
Likewise, promotion measures from the Public Administrations seem necessary. The importance and majority of S.M.E.s and self-employed workers in our economy require incentives and rebates on costs and investments since they are now more important than ever to address digital transformation and telework as engines for competitiveness and job creation, thus avoiding wasting time increase the latent gap between large and small.
Liquid Right In Teleworking
And in the field of liquid law, the legal or conventional definition of positions susceptible to teleworking (intelligent teleworking), types of teleworking (Anglo-Saxon model: permanent or occasional; exceptional, “protected,” regulated in the job description, maybe interesting. etc.) and inherent characteristics (“asymmetry” of the types of telework), as well as the door open to other “extended” options: Italian model of smart work … work anywhere, anytime …
One of the most controversial aspects is the obligatory assumption of costs by employers. Since voluntariness and reversibility seem to be essential characteristics in the regulation, as in the rest of the European Union, the determination of costs should be dealt with in collective bargaining, since, if not, it can become a dissuasive element for the implementation of post-covid-19 teleworking.
In this sense, there are proposals to include in the definition of the cost model, both the description of the concepts that can be included, as well as the relationship of “monetizable” advantages and the relationship with the remuneration model and purchasing power (costs based on earnings/ loss of purchasing power of the worker depending on the place of residence and telecommuting).
Surely many other aspects are pending to be addressed: activity control systems, proportionality, intimacy, privacy, self-image, the scope of control and direction, company policies on teleworking ( dress code, mandatory use of the camera in video meetings, etc.).
Without a doubt, we are committed to seeking consensus solutions so that they last over time, in the face of new work environments, the necessary flexibility, the growing digitization, the competitiveness of our labour relations model, and how to attract and value the talent of people to ensure adaptation to foreseeable changing environments. Hopefully, the legislator is sensitive to what workers and employers demand. It is the only recipe.