Europe

Work-life balance: Will the future of work be remote?

For employees of AXA Bank Belgium, the answer is already clear. From September 1, employees can decide to work from home or the office whenever they need as part of a trade union agreement.

Looking to the end of the pandemic, European organisations are rolling-out plans to bring staff back to work.

Wim Pauwels, a spokesperson for the bank, thinks hybrid working is a possibility companies cannot ignore.

“It’s possible that you’ll be working on a project five days from home one week, and then come to the office three days in the next week, to meet colleagues, to present what you’ve been preparing. The way we are working avoids extreme situations. You will never have a colleague that will never show up at work,” Pauwels said.

Majority wants flexibility

In addition, the barriers to remote work seem to be falling. An Ipsos survey in 29 countries for the World Economic Forum found 66% of workers think that employers should allow more flexible working in the future. Those in favour aim at an average of 2.5 days of work from home. In Europe, the more reductants workers are in Belgium and in France. They are asking for an average of 1.9 days of home office.

Experts say, from a European policy perspective, these trends show it’s time to create conditions for hybrid work models within the single market, to avoid chaos.

Remote working ‘not without risks’

Mario Mariniello, a Senior Fellow at the Bruegel economics think tank says the new system of remote working comes with its own risks for employees and employers alike: burnouts, lack of social cohesion, disengagement. And the bottleneck that needs to be solved – the sharing of operational costs such as internet, electricity, and office material.

“What we currently have is actually a European Telework Framework Agreement which dates back to 2002. After 20 years of technological development and the pandemic in between, I think it is fair to say it’s time for an update.”

The European Commission and the European Parliament are now finalising their own teleworking policies. These promise to be subject to a heated dispute after all.

Finland embraced remote working before COVID. Now it’s designed the ultimate home office

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