Teleworking from abroad: why not more?

We worked from home (‘telework’) 100% for over a year (2020-21) and we’ve been able to telework from outside the place of employment (teleworking from anywhere/abroad (TWA)) for 10 days per year since 2021. In comparison, colleagues in the European Central Bank (ECB) have 90 such days and those at the European Patent Office (EPO) have 60. We’ve shown teleworking works and we’ve shown ourselves to be flexible, responsible and trustworthy. We delivered, even from kitchen tables and living rooms, even from outside the place of assignation. What happens now? Let’s look again at taking TWA further.

The Generation 2004 TWA proposal is unchanged since its inception, it:

  • was tabled in November 2020 and again in June 2021.
  • was widely supported not only by our members and the electorate, but by Commission staff in general.
  • includes three complementary and well-defined configurations: an optimal balance between service needs/importance of in-person working together and the legitimate requests of staff:
    • force majeure
    • for up to 60 days per year
    • for ad hoc needs.
  • is robust and workable, especially in the context of our growing experience both since the implementation of the WTHW decision and the new ways of working adopted all over the world in response to the Covid pandemic (generalised teleworking started 16.03.2020).
  • takes into account the comprehensive policies already implemented by other EU institutions and bodies and other international organisations.
  • Is backed by data, now that DG HR has released figures on the use of the 10 TWA days currently allowed.

The TWA data confirms that recourse to the 10 TWA days did not reduce the use of annual leave days, and that no related significant or systemic problems were reported. Moreover, DG HR data shows that more generalised teleworking coincided with a reduction in sick-leave days [1] and no loss in productivity[2]. The 10 TWA days are raised as points for improvement in the Pulse surveys of June 2022 and February 2023 (see question 7).

As research develops in this fields it becomes even clearer that TWA is a very beneficial tool for both employees and employers. For example, a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) policy brief on the future of work maintains that

‘… teleworkers who are allowed to work from abroad are more often satisfied with their work-life balance, mental, and physical health’ (Teleworking-workplace-policies-and-trust.pdf (, page 3)

‘When asked about the usefulness of the option to telework from abroad,

  • 92% of managers acknowledged this to have a positive impact on staff wellbeing and contribute positively to their availability (62%) and performance (61%).
  • The impact of teleworking from abroad on managers’ capacity to manage their team was largely considered neutral (48%), with clearly more managers assessing also this aspect positively (39%) than negatively (12%).’ (Pulse survey on flexible working for managers: 28 February – 3 March 2023)

We repeat: Teleworking from abroad: YES, WE CAN!

If you appreciate our work, please consider becoming a member of Generation 2004.

As always, feel free to contact us if you have questions: we’re here for you!

[1] It is not clear whether these are linked: colleagues who are on sick leave should not be working at all. Working from home (‘teleworking’) is only applicable under very specific and limited circumstances relating to medical part-time. If this is you, message your line manager and set your our of the office message (if you can): your priority is your recovery.

[2] We are aware of evidence showing that certain domains might have suffered a drop in productivity (The working-from-home illusion fades, It is not more productive than being in an office, after all, 28.06.2023) even though employees are demonstrably happier when working from home (‘The fight over the hybrid future of work, People like working from home. Bosses want them back in the office’, 08.11.2021). We continue to watch what is happening both outside the institutions and within: ‘The fight over working from home goes global, Employees want to toil in the kitchen. Bosses want them back in the office’, 10.07.2023) and our own Corporate Management Board (23.01.2023) would like to see more presence in the office.

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