Wednesday, August 17

Teleworking, in free fall: Spain registers the lowest number of remote workers since the start of the pandemic

The negative forecasts on distance work that we have been counting in recent months are coming true. Teleworking in Spain seems to have been, for the moment, the flower of a day, or, to be more exact, the flower of a pandemic. The data show this: since the vaccination of the population began and infections and deaths from coronavirus have been reduced, the percentage of employees who carry out their work away from the office for more than half of their working week has gone from 11.2% -March 2021- to 8% -September 2022-, according to data collected by the National Observatory of Technology and Society (ONTSI).

Thus, since in the second quarter of 2020, when the pandemic pushed all Spaniards to a mandatory quarantine, the percentage of the employed population that teleworked skyrocketed to 16.2%, the number of remote workers has not stopped decreasing. With one exception, the first quarter of 2021, when the third wave of coronavirus hit Spain hard and many companies were forced to close their offices again after opening them during the fall of 2020.

Despite the decrease pointed out by the ONTSI, the data that stands out refer exclusively to professionals who work remotely for more than half of the working week, therefore does not record data for those that are included in a hybrid model with three or more days in the office and the rest at home.

These data confirm what we already pointed out in Engadget in the summer, that teleworking has shown its real face in autumn, when vaccination and the decrease in infections linked to it have largely allowed the normal activity of many companies to resume. At that time, the experts consulted indicated that the preferred option for Spanish businessmen was the hybrid model with more office weight than remote, with the option of working from home for just one or two days. And that seems to be effectively the preferred option for many companies.

The downward trend is therefore bad news for advocates of telecommuting, although the ONTSI draws a positive reading of these data: in a period of stabilization of the labor market after the beating caused by the pandemic and lockdowns, remote work is consolidating in figures much higher than those prior to March 2020: in December 2019 only 4.8% of employed Spaniards teleworked.

Teleworking does not relocate the population

Teleworking has been one of the great topics of conversation during the pandemic, a period in which it seemed the solution to multiple problems, from family reconciliation to environmental issues, through the depopulation of the regions known as emptied Spain. Even the government itself has recently stated that the extension of remote work three days a week for civil servants, announced last week, would contribute to redistributing the Spanish population – little was said about whether public employees continue to have to go Two days to the office, leaving 300 kilometers from it the rest of the week is not very functional.

However, the data shared by the ONTSI do not suggest that emptied Spain is going to be filled with teleworkers, since the two regions in which currently More remote workers continue to reside are Madrid -16.6% – and Catalonia -9.9%. And in the one with the least, together with the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, Extremadura -3.7% -, one of the autonomous communities with the greatest loss of population in our country, according to data from Europa Press.

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35% of Spaniards can telework

Another report, in this case of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in households, points out that in Spain 35% of the employed population could telework due to the characteristics of the profession in which they work, but that only 17.6% have some option for remote work.

That same survey reflects that in Spain at the moment 65% of employed people have jobs in which there is no possibility of teleworking.

This survey, which was published on November 15, collected data from May 25 to August 23, 2021 and, according to Administration sources consulted by Engadget, did field work during the first quarter of this year, so its data they are somewhat outdated compared to those shared by the ONTSI and the figures may vary slightly today.