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The Netherlands takes a leading role in shaping remote work culture, thanks to its firmly established reputation for flexible working arrangements. Before the pandemic, 14.1 percent of the country’s workforce already worked remotely. In comparison, this number was 4.7 percent in the UK and only 3.6 percent in the U.S.
Now, the lower house of the Netherlands’ parliament has approved legislation that makes working from home a legal right. The bill is awaiting final approval from the Senate before it can be enshrined into law.
How common is remote work in Europe?
Many European countries look set to follow the Dutch blueprint.
For instance, Ireland has passed a law allowing workers to request the right to work remotely. And although there is currently no legal right to work remotely in Germany, the country’s largest trade union has stated it will support any employee who wishes to ignore Tesla’s recent demand that all workers return to the office.
Meanwhile, Portugal has already largely adopted the remote model and is actively working to ensure a health work-life balance at home. In January this year, the country implemented a law prohibiting bosses from contacting remote employees outside working hours. Breaches will result in a fine for the employer. Furthermore, employers are legally required to cover the cost of utilities used in the home for business purposes, including electricity, internet service, and phone plans.
How do the Dutch support remote work?
The Netherlands is consistently ranked No. 1 on the Remote Workers Index. This index ranks countries on just about everything, from the number of Wi-Fi hotspots and coworking spaces, to the price of a cup of coffee.
Meanwhile, strict sick pay legislation exists in the Netherlands. For instance, employers are required to pay 70 percent of an employee’s last earned wage for two years if they become ill. Laws like this ultimately incentivize employers to ensure their workers have healthy working facilities at home.
The Dutch clearly have a deep sense of what they want to achieve for their workers. Interestingly, the Netherlands’ thriving role in creating a remote work culture dates back to 2016 and their Flexible Working Act. This six-year-old bill states that once employees have worked at a company for longer than six months, they can request that their working hours or work location be changed.
The fact that many Dutch workers were already working from home when the Covid pandemic struck meant the Netherlands’ physical infrastructure is particularly well developed for remote work.
For instance, 98 percent of households in the country have access to high-speed internet, the highest in Europe. Public and commercial remote-working facilities are plentiful. Public libraries can include coworking spaces, and as a bonus there is an endless number of coffee shops.
Are remote workers happier?
Why does the Netherlands’ progressive approach to remote work culture matter so much?
In 2015, a research study from Stanford University and the Harvard Business School found that, in the U.S., workplace stress contributes to roughly 120,000 deaths yearly and up to USD 190 billion in healthcare costs.
This statistic underlines the direct impact work has on our mental and emotional health. However, studies have found that remote work can reduce job-related stress.”
Simply put, it allows for a better diet, more exercise, and a healthier lifestyle. Not commuting to the office means you can get extra sleep in the morning, spend more time with your family, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, and more.
A FlexJobs study found that 70 percent of respondents said a fully remote job would considerably improve or positively impact their mental health. One of the most crucial aspects of the study found that the prospect of a fully remote job was so attractive, 24 percent of workers would take a 10-20 percent pay cut, while 21 percent would give up some vacation time to work remotely.One of the most crucial aspects of the study found that the prospect of a fully remote job was so attractive, 24 percent of workers would take a 10-20 percent pay cut, while 21 percent would give up some vacation time to work remotely. Click To Tweet
Should remote working continue?
It’s not just employees that benefit from remote work either. A review by Global Workplace Analytics into the costs and benefits of remote work also found significant incentives for employers. For example:
- Nearly six out of 10 employers identified cost savings as a significant benefit of remote work.
- Multiple companies – such as Best Buy, British Telecom, and Dow Chemical – found that their remote employees were 35-40 percent more productive than their office counterparts.
- Companies can lose anywhere up to USD 600 billion a year due to in-office workplace distractions.
So, not only can office-based work be less time-efficient, it can also cost employers a large amount of money. Companies have a lot to gain from the benefits that remote work offers.
Are remote jobs the future?
It is no coincidence, given the flexibility afforded to Dutch workers, that they are consistently among the world’s happiest employees. Workers in the Netherlands spend 57.2 percent of their time happy. As the workforce ages, it is reasonable to assume that any resistance to remote work will fade, and workplace dynamics will continue to change. Already, 74 percent of millennial and Gen Z managers have team members who primarily work from home. By the end of this decade, these younger employees will account for 58 percent of the workforce. As such, they’re likely to reshape it.
When one looks at the successful model created by the Netherlands, the positive effects remote work has on our mental and emotional wellbeing, and the financial benefits for employers, it makes a strong case that remote work is here to stay and grow in popularity.
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