‘Wild West of Teleworking’ Photography Contest: winners!

Thanks to all of you who submitted photos of your home-office/kitchen-table/cupboard-under-the-stairs/garden IT setup and your increased bills and accommodation costs. We always appreciate your interaction and comments and you can still send us your teleworking photos and evidence of costs incurred: let us know where and how you are working!

We’ve expanded the original plan for the 3 best pictures  to receive the highly-coveted Generation 2004 ‘Wild West of Teleworking’ 2021 medals due to the quality and backstories of the examples received and the ingenuity shown.

We have added a category for those making the best of it but not losing sight of the ergonomics. Well done to our very practical colleague on this stand-up/sit-down desk. Changing the setting from standing to sitting is not done at the touch of a button, but since we’re being encouraged to include ‘regular physical activity’ (Slide 4) why not include it as an obligation? This table ticks that box!

And now on to the winners!

We recognise the feng shui (or is it Tetris?) skills of these two colleagues in making a dedicated office space, one colleague in the living room (our bronze medal winner) and the other in the one-and-only bedroom (our silver medal winner).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that the Eurostat Staff Housing Survey (password in email, 19.05.2021 [1]) asks ‘When teleworking, how many rooms in your dwelling can be used as an office?’ What is your criteria for a room being used as an office? e.g. that it has a door/no one currently sleeping in it/is not the bathroom/the Wi-Fi reaches it?

We all have the illusion of choice: either set up your work post every morning, and pack it away every evening (it will still occupy space), or give up some precious living or sleeping space to work. Space or time: which will you sacrifice?

Generation 2004 admires the honesty of this last working space, our gold medal winner, highlighting the impracticality of the guidelines on teleworking with children with an office space which spans rooms, furniture and appliances, occupying an ever-growing space and blurring further the line between the public and the private.

   

Generation 2004 also draws your attention to the costs involved in setting up a reasonable working area: here a colleague shows what EUR 1000 achieved (over and above the contribution to the costs of a chair and screen made by the Commission). Costs here include a keyboard, printer, desk, headphones, electricity and heating (>EUR 50 per month for many of you), but not the rent on the space, nor Wi-Fi boosters and other paraphernalia.

On the topic of costs, we have examples of colleagues moving home in order to better accommodate long-term 100% teleworking:

  • a Contract Agent (CA) colleague (FGII) spending >44% of take-home pay on the cheapest flat available after moving from a flat share (Luxembourg)
  • another colleague not being considered for a rental property (again in Luxembourg) because take-home pay (AST3) is not even close to the 3 x (rent + charges) increasingly insisted upon by landlords.

For a slightly worn 2 bedroom flat rental the AST3 colleague required EUR 5400 as take-home pay: this might be possible in 2036 when our colleague might have reached the grade of  AST6 step 2 (15 years (?): slide 37)) if accommodation costs were to remain static. Unfortunately, in Luxembourg things have gotten more than a little out of hand:

‘House price developments in the EU Member States Among the Member States for which data are available, the highest annual increases in house prices in the fourth quarter of 2020 were recorded in Luxembourg (+16.7%), Denmark (+9.8%) and Lithuania (+9.4%).’ Eurostat, 8 April 2021, euroindicators, 40/2021.[2]

The Staff Regulations are clear on who should pay for work expenses, but we have not yet heard of anyone who has been reimbursed these additional costs.

An official shall be entitled, as provided in Annex VII, to reimbursement of expenses incurred by him on taking up appointment, transfer, or leaving the service, and also to expenses incurred by him in the course of or in connection with the performance of his duties. (Staff Regulations, Article 71)’

From spring 2020 we have provided a template and guidance for requesting the reimbursement of additional teleworking costs (a chair and screen do not make an office!). We invite you to submit (or even resubmit, with costs accrued in the intervening time) requests for reimbursement in order to maintain pressure on the Commission to act. This is especially important given that the more comprehensive second scheme for 2021, promised in December 2020, has not yet gone live [3].

Here’s the process: you must file a formal Article 90.1 request to the appointing authority: here is a template for you to use. After you have completed it and have scanned your receipts, please send everything to HR and let us know how you get on.

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[1]Update 01.06.2021 The new deadline is Wednesday 16.06.2021 at midnight.

[2] Confirmed again:

[3] Update 01.06.2021 the new system has gone live: check whether you are eligible for an IT package (any combination of: screen, keyboard, mouse, docking station (provides additional USB ports), webcam (means that you can close your laptop)). Note you can still purchase a chair and/or screen and note that My IT Support allows you to request a headset for videoconferences (item: ‘Request telephony peripherals (Skype for Business)’).

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