November 22, 2022
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4 minutes

What telework in 2031? Portugal, the telework eldorado (unlike the UK)

Every week, Offishall reads the press and scours the articles related to hybrid work. Here is our selection of the three most important pieces of content of the last seven days.

What telework in 2031? Portugal, the telework eldorado (unlike the UK)

Every week, Offishall reads the press and scours the articles related to hybrid work. Here is our selection of the three most important pieces of content of the last seven days.

How will we (tele)work in 2031?

This Usbek et Rica article explores with humour and seriousness the future of work in 2031 according to three different scenarios. The first describes a world in which "the widespread teleworking brought about by the pandemic is now a distant memory. This futuristic account depicts the innovations and facilities that companies are initiating to make offices more attractive in the 2020s. "Some, for old times' sake, have redesigned them to be home-like, with large stone bars, kitchens, club chairs and even fireplaces. Desks with variable height or mechanical carpets, which allow you to jog while processing your emails, are also flourishing. This is accompanied by a management control and"a hierarchical structure that leaves little freedom to employees". with large companies that "remain unagile, struggle to innovate and are beaten to the punch by startups which have rethinking their organisation after the crisis and leave a greater margin of autonomy to each individual."

Another - much more optimistic - possibility explored by the magazine is a hybrid and flexible working pattern alternating between telework and the office. A model that has allowed some organisations to adopt the four-day week "with a positive impact on productivity, creativity and stress reduction" for employees. The revolution in the workplace is obviously also affecting real estate and urban planning. Gone are the "gigantic offices centralised in the capital", replaced by smaller premises spread across medium-sized towns, "leading to a revitalisation of the latter and allowing everyone to choose the living environment that best suits them while limiting their travel, and therefore their ecological impact". A story that we hope is premonitory.

Less rosy, the last scenario is called "a wasted opportunity". So it's 2031, companies have embraced the remote but with the aim of "replicate the physical office online" via various inventions. These companies"replicate the office experience in the form of immersive and ultra-realistic video game." Managers are using various surveillance tools to monitor employees. "Artificial intelligence algorithms collect huge amounts of data on keyboard and mouse activity. [...] Faced with this, "some unions are calling for a digital blackout with a ban on contacting employees outside certain hours, others are calling for an audit of remote management software that would ensure that it respects workers and does not invade their privacy."
Here we are. ⬇️

UK union warns of growing use of employee surveillance tools

The last scenario mentioned above is therefore reminiscent of the social news in Great Britain, reported in particular in the local press(specialised or not): the generalisation of teleworking has reinforced the surveillance of employees by their superiors. A survey of 2,500 British workers commissioned by the Prospect trade union in October revealed that one in three workers is monitored by their employer, including at home. Worse still, 13% of respondents are monitored by a camera, a figure that has more than doubled since April.
The BBC chose to illustrate the subject through the testimony of Chris, a 31-year-old engineer. He recounts his experience of the first lockdown, during which he and his colleagues found that they were being monitored by their superior. "It was scary. One of the managers was stalking the home computers to monitor what we were doing from home - all the time, not just during our working hours. He could see what we were watching on YouTube for example."

In terms of employee monitoring, the various technological tools open up a wide range of options for employers, according to the BBC, which lists the options available to companies: cameras that can film employees at their desks, motion sensors that remotely record keyboard taps and mouse movements, etc. The paper also reports that bosses can take screenshots of employees' computers.
The Prospect union - which has 150,000 members - is therefore alarmed at the increased surveillance of British remote workers. " We are used to the idea of employers monitoring workers, but when people are working from home it takes on a whole new dimension," says Mike Clancy, the union's general secretary. The organisation is calling for stricter regulation of employers' use of surveillance tools and for the government to make it illegal to use webcams to monitor remote workers (outside of business meetings or calls).

Portugal strengthens its legislation on telework (and it benefits employees)

The third article on the euronews website that caught our attention concerns Portugal. The country has - once again - made several legislative changes to regulate teleworking by protecting employees. Employers could now be fined if they contact employees outside office hours. The aim is to guarantee employees' work-life balance, although a bill to include the right to disconnect was rejected by MEPs.
This legislative change only applies to organisations with more than ten employees.

Another new feature of the Portuguese law is that it offers greater flexibility in the organisation of work for parents of young children (under eight years old). They now have the right to work from home without necessarily notifying their employer in advance. The parliamentarians also wanted to combat the isolation of remote employees; companies must now organise face-to-face meetings at least every two months.

Portugal, aforerunner in the regulation of telework, continues to legislate at national level (having amended its law last January). This is a huge progress on the social level. In France, as a reminder, the modalities of telework applications are the responsibility of each company and are fixed by a unilateral charter of the employer or agreements between employers and employees. By initiating these legislative changes in favour of employees, Lisbon aims to attract digital-nomads from all over the world (and in particular Californians, for whom the country is popular). It remains to be seen to what extent a foreign worker based in Portugal and working for a third party company can be subject to the labour law of the place where he or she lives.

Edmée Citroën

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