Germany Is Writing a Law to Give the Legal Right to Work From Home
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
By David Elliott , Senior Writer, Formative Content at FEM en Español
- Germany will publish a bill to make working from home a legal right, its labor minister has said.
- Strengthening workers' rights and regulating home work are central to the plans.
- Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are some of the companies that are reviewing their telecommuting policies.
- The World Economic Forum's Job Restart Summit will explore how to shape fairer and more sustainable organizations and workplaces as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
Germany has said it wants to give its citizens the legal right to work from home.
Workers in many parts of the world are now much more familiar with the ins and outs of the remote office than they were at the beginning of this year. In Germany, around 40% of people wanted to work from home at least part of the time even before the pandemic hit.
And the country has been seeking initiatives for companies to allow employees to work from home since early 2019. Now, as the pandemic has given a glimpse of what is possible, it is looking to make it official. The bill will be published in a few weeks, the country's labor minister told the Financial Times.
98% of employees would like to telecommute at least part of the volume for the rest of their careers / Image: Buffer / Visual Capitalist
Hubertus Heil said in the interview that the law would give employees the option to work from home when possible.
And crucially, there is a plan to strengthen workers' rights and establish clearer boundaries between personal and work life.
It is an issue that is on the minds of many people after months of home work caused by the crisis. Before COVID-19, a survey found that the world's population was even more effusive than Germany's when it came to working from home - 98% said they sometimes wanted to telecommute .
But recent IBM research has found that while bosses think their companies have done well to manage the shift to new ways of working, employees don't always agree. Many feel exhausted, and only 46% think that the organization they work for does enough to help them with their well-being.There is a disparity between employees and employers on a number of issues / Image: IBM
Once a week
Still, as the move from Germany suggests, telecommuting somehow looks set to play a much bigger role in many people's lives.
Google, Salesforce and Facebook are among the companies that have said employees can work from home until at least next summer. Microsoft and Twitter have said that some employees can do it forever. And in the United States, 69% of financial services companies surveyed by PwC said they expect nearly two-thirds of their staff to work from home once a week in the future. Before the pandemic, this figure was 29%.
Despite the concerns of some companies about the impact on teamwork and productivity, it could be very profitable in terms of cost savings: Research has found that a typical employer could save about $ 11,000 a year for each person who he works remotely half the time .
And burnout aside, it appears that many employees are still on board, too. A survey of US workers revealed that nearly half wanted to continue working from home after the pandemic, and that the shift to telecommuting had a positive impact on their view of the company.
Fair and sustainable
But there are also concerns. Not everyone is capable of working from home. A study conducted in the United States revealed that mothers who work at home spend more time on housework and childcare than fathers .
And the president of the German Employers' Association has warned that his country's proposals could encourage companies to outsource jobs abroad to cheaper workers.
But Germany's plan is an example of how governments try to ensure that the new world of work works for everyone. Spain, Greece and Ireland also want to develop new regulations for home work, according to the FT.
The World Economic Forum's Work Restart Summit will explore how we can shape more inclusive, fair and sustainable organizations and workplaces as we emerge from the crisis.
The question is, as the German Hubertus Heil told the FT, "How can we turn technological progress, new business models and increased productivity into progress not just for a few, but for many people?"