Teleworking from abroad: Survey results are out

Generation 2004 asked you for your opinion on this topic in a 10-question survey over 5 weeks October-November 2020 and 1 500 of you responded. The short answer to our question of whether you want to be able to telework from abroad is a resounding ‘YES!’: 93% (1 393) of those who responded would like to have that option available.

Though it must be noted that there are several different versions of ‘yes’ proposed and it was possible to select more than one of them: Yes, for a limited period like summer, Christmas etc./Yes, in exceptional situations like COVID‑19./Yes, permanently.

We received every possible combination of the options offered, sometimes together with ‘maybe’ and ‘no’ in the same response, suggesting that while respondents are clear that they would like to have the option of teleworking from abroad, they are not agreed on the circumstances which might merit this. There were also several responses suggesting that telework be calculated over months and not weeks or that we be allowed to work for a couple of months or even an entire year from abroad.

It’s interesting to contrast this this huge number of yes responses with our relative lack of familiarity with teleworking: less than one third of respondents (673) were already teleworking regularly prior to COVID‑19. Many of us have now been teleworking to some extent for 41 weeks and, while it has been a baptism of fire in terms of technology, only 4% of those who responded (62) stated that you would prefer not to continue teleworking in ‘the new normal’ post-COVID.19.

On the issue of allowances currently received (e.g. the 16% expatriation allowance (82% (1 229) of respondents) or 4% foreign-residence allowance (6% of respondents (93))) and whether you consider those items to be negotiable in exchange for the possibility to telework from outside the place or residence, 26% of respondents (385) stated that you would be unwilling to lose these.

We also asked what changes you might be willing to accept in exchange for being able to telework from abroad and the most numerous response was ‘none’, though often in combination with several of the other options proposed: perhaps you prefer to see what might be on offer before showing your cards. Though 72% of those who responded (1 076) would be willing to move to some sort of open-plan office if that was a condition of being able to telework from abroad.

Here are the survey questions:

  1. Please indicate your job category:
  2. Please indicate your place of employment:
  3. Do you benefit from:
  4. Were you teleworking prior COVID‑19?
  5. Would like to continue teleworking after COVID‑19?If YES, please indicate which percentage (per week)
  6. Would you like to telework from abroad? If Yes for a limited period, please indicate which months (or how many months):
  7. If yes, provided that you are currently receiving an expatriation allowance (16%) or foreign-residence allowance (4%), would you be willing to lose it?
  8. Are you aware that teleworking from abroad could lead in the future to a possible adaptation of your salary to the correction coefficient applicable in the specific country and thus possible salary cut? Would you be willing to accept this change?
  9. Teleworking from abroad could entail the opening of the staff regulations that has risks associated with it. In this context, which risks are you willing to take? Any other risk:
  10. Extensive teleworking could entail the transformation of the working space in Commission premises in open-plan offices or even hot-desking (a limited number of non-assigned workstations, probably to be booked in advance). Would you be willing to accept these arrangements?

Thanks to all of you who participated in our survey: we plan to present our findings to the administration in the future, we will keep you posted on progress [1].

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.

[1] 12.2.2021 we sent a note to HR with the survey results requesting that ‘a social dialogue on teleworking be opened as soon as possible so that the staff representation can meaningfully contribute to designing the new provisions in this field.’ We received a response 24.3.2021, promising this.

Here are the published results of the 12.4.2021 DG HR Pulse Survey: New Work Environment asking for your opinion on how much you would like to telework post-COVID.

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