Teleworking is claimed as an effective weapon against depopulation

Employees who telework in Spain save 63 minutes a day compared to those who must go to the workplace in person. This is the result reached by several researchers from a recent study by the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). The time we dedicate to travel means that at the end of the day we have one hour less than those who have their office at home.

As a result of the pandemic, many companies began to implement more flexible work models, allowing workers to carry out their functions a few days a week remotely. However, it is not so common for companies to bet on a total teleworking system. This option, which is not always possible to apply in certain professional sectors, makes it possible to attract talent from other parts of Spain and even makes it easier for employees to disperse throughout the country, recovering less populated areas.

Escape from the capital and move to the beach

The Eventbrite ticket holder is one of the first companies to implement 100% remote work from anywhere. His only requirement is to have an internet connection, and in exchange he obtained aid of 90 euros each month to adapt the workspace, annual welfare aid, or continuous access to training courses. Despite the fact that 50% of its workforce lives in the surroundings of its Madrid headquarters, the company opted for a flexible model that does not regulate how many days they go to the office.

Taking advantage of this, there are those who opted for permanent teleworking. Marta Atienza works as a software engineer and decided to move from Madrid to El Masnou, a coastal town 20 minutes by train from Barcelona. “I have come to a town that I did not know at all, and that I had never considered changing the city,” she says. He made the decision to move because the apartment he found met all the characteristics he was looking for: “In Madrid the daily routine was more apathetic, more monotonous. I had a rigid schedule, and here I make a schedule adapted to what I need. I came here as I could going anywhere else.”

For her, what is essential is not only the time saved in having to go to the office, but also being able to live wherever she wants. After the pandemic, Eventbrite proposed maintaining the model that she urgently implemented, considering it a positive value for the company. “People positioned themselves in favor of teleworking, which we saw could be flexible, including the remote model,” explains Julia Collado, the company’s Senior Talent Manager. Two days a quarter they go to the office to work as a team. “I don’t see the negative point. I haven’t noticed a greater workload, I really like working completely remotely,” defends Atienza.

Return to your hometown thanks to teleworking

The online comparator Rastreator applied a total teleworking system for its almost 200 employees three years ago. The decision was submitted to a general survey and this model was finally chosen, although any worker can go to the offices if they wish. “Before, it was limited to two days a month, but later it had to bet on 100% flexible teleworking,” says Fernando Summers, president and CEO of Rastreator. Likewise, they also have flexible hours and to avoid losing the team culture, they organize a joint meeting every month, as well as ‘team building’ activities.

David Fraguas has been working as Brand Manager at the firm for 8 years. However, thanks to this new option, he has changed his life plans and has decided to buy an apartment in his native Malaga, to which he will move very soon permanently to telework 100%. “I had no intention of returning, but when I thought about how I wanted to live in the future, I realized that in Madrid, due to the prices, the climate or the distances, it was not going to be possible,” he says. Teleworking can offer many advantages, such as avoiding making tupperware or enjoying the extra free time that we do not invest in commuting, however, it can also present other added difficulties. Nuria Val, the firm’s ‘PR Manager’, assures that when there are projects that require more creativity, everyone in the team agrees to go to the offices for a few days and work on it.

Although the company does not offer financial compensation for the expenses derived from working at home, they make all kinds of facilities available to employees to adapt to the model. Fraguas assured that during the pandemic he felt that he communicated his ideas worse through the screen and his superiors facilitated sessions with a coach to work on it. “They have implemented conciliation policies, there is a specific department that is dedicated to the welfare of workers.”

“When I thought about how I wanted to live in the future, I realized that in Madrid, due to the prices, the climate or the distances, it was not going to be possible” -David Fraguas, ‘brand manager’ at Rastreator

Young people return to small towns

Fernán Torres is a computer scientist and works as Lead Front at the TaxDown tax consultancy. He does it from Burgos, where they had to move after the end of the pandemic: “Before they lived in Madrid, but due to different circumstances they decided to return to my hometown.” He was the first to telework in his company, which was rarely a “quite big change, because the first contact and the way of working was different.” After it, all the new incorporations can enjoy teleworking.

Consider that the change has been for the better: “When I lived in Madrid, the routine I used to do was a bit difficult for me. Here I have more time, I’m working but at the same time I can stop, put the washing machine on, do housework, go out to do shopping… I adapt my life to work, before it was the other way around”. In addition, he has observed that teleworking has allowed many of his friends from the degree to return to their cities of origin: “In my degree group we were ten people, eight of whom lived in Madrid, and currently none do. Teleworking It has given us the chance to return to our cities, and it makes it easier for them not to be so empty”.

The only downside to your new employment status is the fact that you have to be more active or available for any purpose. “In an office you go away and disconnect, but teleworking seems to make you more available.” Although she believes that everyone is not prepared or willing to work from home, she considers that the fear that her bosses initially had of teleworking has disappeared: “They have never had any problems, and the feedback I have received is very good Now I go to Madrid when I feel like it, when we make business plans”.

A model imported from the United States

Álvaro Falcones, co-founder and CPO of the company, says that the decision to import this model comes from his previous stage in the United States: “in my other life as a strategic consultant, I had a less flexible job. I arrived in San Francisco in 2016 and I found out that people didn’t have to wear a suit and tie, but what surprised me the most was that there was no obligation to go to the office. So since we launched Taxdown we have offered several conditions that make working here different.” This policy of flexibility has been “something differential to sign talent” and has allowed them to have very low levels of staff turnover.

“We do not force anyone to come to the office, it is a free decision to come or not. We have tools that allow us to know that people meet the objectives set, but mainly we transfer the responsibility to the worker and we treat them as adults.” The company also offers the opportunity for each employee to work from wherever they want—there are other employees working from the Canary Islands or Argentina—and enjoy unlimited vacations. This, which sounds shocking a priori, is something that “has never caused problems” in Taxdown: “Now that the rent is approaching and it is our busiest months, people assume that it is not the best time to take them,” he concludes.

Create team culture when working remotely

Creu Ibañez, now client director at Prodigioso Volcán, returned to work for the consultancy almost two years ago. She had then moved to Valencia, closer to her family, and she assures that she did not want to have to move to Madrid. “They told me it wasn’t a problem, they didn’t care where she was working,” she says. Most of her team members are spread across the country, so they use multiple tools to keep in touch. “I have meetings every morning with my colleagues where we drink coffee as if we were on the company machine. You can have that connection just as digitally.”

She, as team leader, tries to promote face-to-face meetings with her colleagues to keep in touch when they don’t have to talk about work. In addition, from the consultancy they also do a lot of training and activities to try to create a company culture. Ibáñez considers that remotely she is more productive, since she does not have as many distractions as in an office and she continues to take the necessary breaks, so she notices a big difference. “Telecommuting has allowed me to do the work I like in the place I want. Before, I lost two hours of my life every day getting to the office and now I have gained them.”

In Prodigioso Volcán they have several work centers in three Spanish cities for those who want to appear in person. We also offer a monthly compensation of about 30 euros to cover the expenses derived from working at home and they pay for the trips to their employees when they have to go to something mandatory, according to its founder, María Mayo. She herself recounts how her company’s work model makes her avoid the “slavery” of going to the office: “before we went every day, now only when I needed it, to meetings or creative workshops. The office has changed.”

He defends the model that they have implemented because “in a development company it is very easy to establish remote working, but in ours it is more difficult because we provide customer service and the roles are more management”. Prodigious Volcano has 188 employees, of which a quarter, about 50, work in other cities. “We are all advocates of flexible working. The only day we all go is the annual company event.”

He recounts that “the most important thing is trust in the team”, so that people are as self-sufficient as possible, although for this it is necessary to have a rather demanding occupational risk prevention policy: “we promise that they have the better means for them to carry out their work, but they have to say where they are at all times. He ensures that the staff is satisfied with the measure and has not had any problem expanding the team.

“In a development company it is very easy to establish remote working” – María Mayo, founder of Prodigioso Volcán.

Labor flexibility options beyond teleworking

Other companies such as the ING bank have also established a free teleworking model. As they point out on their own website, the 1,400 Spanish employees can decide when they want to work remotely and even have flexibility of entry and exit. In addition, they have created a plan to reduce meetings, limiting them to evening hours and promoting that they do not last more than 45 minutes. Also, bet on the digital disconnection of employees, so also restrict the sending of emails or calls outside the office.

At Vodafone they have implemented a four-week system of free teleworking from anywhere in the world, a measure that has received 45.7% support among the company’s almost 4,000 employees. In addition, they have the possibility of teleworking up to three days a week. This option began in 2016 with three days a month and finally, especially as a result of the pandemic, it has been extended to 60% of the day. All workers receive an ‘Office in a box’ package, so that both the furniture and the computer part are covered to be able to carry out their tasks. In this case, the company also grants economic compensation of 50% of the expenses derived from working from home.

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