by Irene Mandl and Oscar Vargas Llave
Tech-based flexible working conjures up the independent consultant tapping on her tablet with a latte to hand. But the picture may not be so positive.
Flexible working time and flexible places of work are nothing new. But advances in information and communications technology have added a new dimension to flexibility, allowing workers to connect virtually with colleagues, clients and business partners anytime, anywhere. ICT has opened the door to new ways of
This diversity across Europe is due to a combination of factors, such as a country’s affinity for technology, the availability
Increased flexibility is generally perceived as a positive feature of job quality. It gives workers more autonomy and control, allowing them to combine work with a variety of life situations and to make choices according to their individual preferences. This potentially boosts productivity while enabling a better work-life balance. From a
But this type of working also has downsides. Paradoxically, the elevated autonomy quite often results in people working longer hours or at
Sometimes, this situation can be a result of
A new phenomenon is being observed among these workers—virtual ‘presenteeism’. Presenteeism is when employees go to work in spite of being sick. Again, it is nothing new and is often related to the employee’s fear of negative consequences if they miss work. But ICT is facilitating people to work from home when they’re not feeling well, which is likely to impair their performance. What such
The self-employed comprise a section of the high-autonomy workforce likely to embrace flexibility-enabling ICT, in line with the shift to a service economy. And there is anecdotal evidence that for at least some types of freelancers—such as consultants or those in the creative industries—clients value their ability to adapt their working hours and to operate from different locations.
So far, little research has been carried out on ICT-supported flexible working among the self-employed. The available evidence is generally positive: it supports their entrepreneurial initiatives and fosters their professional
But this group also risks having lesser rest periods than others who are self-employed. They are not covered by
More on flexible working
On 13 June 2019 from 15:00 to 16:30 CET, Eurofound will host the webinar ‘Flexible working in the digital age: is everyone a winner?’. You can sign up to watch and participate at the link below. The video and other material will be made available after the event.
(Irene Mandl is head of the employment research unit at Eurofound and Oscar Vargas Llave is a research officer in its working life unit.)
- Social Europe