Debate on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of teleworking

Instytut Spraw Publicznych

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Debate on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of teleworking

On 15-16 June, the first scientific meeting in the research project 'TWING: Exploring the contribution of social dialogue and collective bargaining in the promotion of decent and productive telework in the post-COVID-19 scenario' took place in Lisbon. This project, led by the Spanish think-tank NOTUS-ASR, aims to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of teleworking, the consequences it has for working conditions and workers' wellbeing, and the change in the regulation of teleworking.

he study seeks to establish whether and to what extent social dialogue (particularly company and sectoral collective bargaining and tripartite dialogue at the national level) influences the regulation of remote working, contributing to improving its effectiveness and employment conditions. The project covers a number of countries with different economic and collective labour relations models, i.e.: Austria, Estonia, Finland, Spain, Poland and Portugal.

The Institute of Public Affairs was represented by two researchers involved in the project: Maciej Pańków, analyst, and Dominik Owczarek, director of the Social Policy Programme. They presented the conclusions of the desk research analysis on the use of remote working in Poland. One of the interesting themes emerging from the literature review, which was also indicated by researchers from other countries, is the ambiguous impact of remote working on work-life balance. On the one hand, many people experience a positive impact on this aspect of work, thanks to the time savings resulting from the lack of commuting and the possibility to organise their tasks more flexibly. On the other hand, remote working often results in a blurring of the boundaries between work and private life, a feeling of being at work all the time and an extension of working hours. Employee well-being is also influenced by other factors, such as housing conditions, the presence of other family members (especially those for whom care is taken), and a person's personality traits, such as self-discipline and the ability to organise one's own work.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the next steps of the project, including in particular the methodology of the field study. Research issues that are important from a national perspective were discussed. In Poland, these will include the effects of the recent amendment to the chapter of the Labour Code on remote working. Among other things, it contains provisions on the obligation of the employer to agree with employee representation on specific issues concerning it, which some commentators see as an opportunity to revive social dialogue in Poland.
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