Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independ...
The wifi workplace: Dutch want more work flexibility29 August 2014, by Beatrice Clarke
More Dutch people would like flexible working arrangements, with the ability to decide where, when and for how long, they work. These are the findings of a survey conducted by consulting firm McKinsey for the Telegraaf.
Four out of five employees currently, or would like to, work from home (thuiswerken), according to the survey. Surveyed workers hope that such habits would reduce traffic congestion and commuter stress.
The wifi office
Thanks to digital connectivity, work practices are indeed changing, with people taking their work out of the office and onto a café terrace, a park with wifi, or at the kitchen table.
Tracy Metz, in De Groene Amsterdammer, writes that people are increasingly becoming "wifi-hunting nomads, physically footloose but continuously digitally connected". People want to integrate work and private life together, creating a seamless blend without fixed working hours.
Metz writes that if people go to the office, it is to meet and speak with colleagues, rather than to actually work through tasks, which can be completed at the location of one’s choice instead. Co-working spaces also offer the stimulation and collaborative environment of an office, with more flexibility than a conventional workplace.
Remote working in the Netherlands
The Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis (KiM) found that the total number of employees who routinely work from home or another remote location rose from 27 per cent in 2008 to 32 per cent in 2012. The other 68 per cent of Dutch workers carry out all work at their fixed location of employment.
Work sectors that have a higher proportion of home or flex workers include education, ICT, and the financial services. Regions of the Netherlands where remote working is more common are Greater Amsterdam, Haaglanden (surrounding The Hague) and Utrecht.
According to the KiM, the main obstacles preventing more people from working at home include a work culture that discourages working remotely, a lack of mutual trust, employee’s limited knowledge of relevant regulations, and habitual behavioural patterns.
The natural limit to an employee working remotely seems to be between one to two days a week (or eight to 16 hours). More than two days away from the office limits the visibility of an employee in the workplace, as well as the opportunities for contact with colleagues.
Changing the work culture
Before remote working can become more commonplace, work culture must change. KiM researchers advise that professional and personal habitual behaviours can be changed through incentives such as increasing time flexibility within companies, raising awareness of the existing legal framework and adjusting tax regulations.