New information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionised everyday work and life in the 21st century. They enable people to connect with friends and family – as well as with work colleagues and supervisors – at any point in time; however, they also facilitate the encroachment of paid work into the spaces and times normally reserved for personal life. The uncoupling of paid work from traditional office spaces has been a crucial factor in this development. Today’s office work and, more broadly, knowledge work, is supported by the internet, and can be carried out from practically any location and at any time. This new spatial independence has transformed the role of technology in the work environment, offering both new opportunities and new challenges.
This report considers the impact of telework/ICT-mobile work (T/ICTM) on the world of work. T/ICTM can be defined as the use of ICT – such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers – for the purposes of work outside the employer’s premises. The report synthesises research carried out by Eurofound’s network of European correspondents in 10 EU Member States – Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK – and by ILO country experts in Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan and the US. These contributors were asked to review and summarise the findings of data and research literature on the subject of T/ICTM in their respective countries.
The report classifies T/ICTM employees in relation to their place of work (home, office or another location) and the intensity and frequency of their work using ICT outside the employer’s premises. The following groups were identified: regular home-based teleworkers; occasional T/ICTM workers, with mid-to-low mobility and frequency of work outside the employer’s premises; and high mobile T/ICTM, with high frequency of working in various places, including working from home.
The extent of the adoption of T/ICTM across different countries, and its effects on working time, performance, work–life balance, and health and well-being are analysed using information from the national studies, supplemented by data from the sixth European Working Conditions Survey. The report also reviews policy initiatives by governments, social partners and companies in relation to T/ICTM. The findings can contribute to the development of effective policies in the areas of digitalisation, fair working conditions and decent work in Europe and other regions of the world.