Hybrid working guidelines for DGs and Delegations, what should we expect? 

Generation 2004 firmly believes that the EU institutions should focus on impact and output rather than the means of work.  When the pandemic has shown that, for many roles, teleworking can be as effective as office presence (and is considered equivalent), why does the EU appear to prefer to go back in time? Why burden colleagues with again finding balance, having to revamp their schedules and routines with the associated stresses in order to be present in their place of employment rather than letting them continue to telework in peace, efficiently, effectively, and happily? In the absence of general guidelines for the working-time decision, DGs and agencies are doing their own thing and drafting their own guidelines, leading to differences in interpretation and application of the rules.

  • Eurostat: staff are to be present on 2 fixed days set for 6 months,
  • Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Luxembourg (OIL) staff are expected to spend a minimum of 16 hours in the office over 3 days,
  • DG SANTE: staff continue with the 2 days of presence introduced in March 2022.

In terms of the European External Action Service (EEAS), what could the EU possibly gain by having insisting colleagues return to full physical presence. Why not allow some flexibility.

Generation2004 believes that the working time and hybrid working arrangement decision guidelines are an opportunity to address many issues, particularly for Delegations.  The decision should:

  1. Acknowledge the fact that EU colleagues working in Delegations around the world have a different working environment and realities from those based in the European sites or headquarters. Generally speaking, they work in a foreign country particularly far from their network of friends and families and therefore their situations require a human approach when addressing their very valid requests for increased flexibility;
  2. Make provision to care for colleagues whose spouse also works in the EU institutions: a teleworking opportunity at one of the spouse’s duty stations;
  3. Extend teleworking outside the normal work location to Local Agents (LAs), as the world has become a very multicultural place and it is common to have family to visit in different countries or continents. When teleworking does not go against the interest of the service, it should also be allowed for LAs in order to avoid discrimination (taking into account possibility under the local rules);
  4. Address the issue of the jobs in Delegations that are not currently compatible with teleworking and the flexible working regime. Can the European External Action Service (EEAS) find a mechanism for some kind of equivalence so that these colleagues might enjoy some of the added flexibility so readily available to their peers?

Generation2004 also recalls the #NOWOMENNOEUDIPLOMACY message of SG Sannino in June 2021:

‘[..] Adoption of a new Decision to allow spouses employed by the EEAS and Commission in Brussels or in another EU diplomatic mission to spend a number of weeks per year teleworking in their partner’s place of posting.’ [*]

We regret to see that exactly one year on, the teleworking decision for Delegations (an important factor for increasing women’s participation and also for better distributing caring responsibilities) is still not adopted.[**]

Generation2004 pushes for the EEAS to take a more human approach, to assess and balance the interests of the service with the well-being of colleagues.

Note also that the working-time-and-hybrid-working ‘new normal’ elsewhere is raising many issues (particularly with variations/inconsistencies across services or teams): we are collecting people’s experiences.

If you have any further suggestions and comments about the upcoming teleworking guidelines, please write to us here.

[*]update 26.07.2022 progress is being made here: check out the additional flexibility being offered in addition to conscious bias training.

[**] We fully endorse that ‘Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.’ (Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Look at the disproportionate burden to women around the world as all countries have experienced our common plight:  COVID-19, which is still very much in our daily lives. In spite of this, the 2021 report on gender equality in the EU confirmed the 2020 UN findings, stating that ‘[..] the pandemic hit women particularly hard [..]’ and we saw that in general national COVID decision-making teams did not include women. Check out our article.

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