Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Teleworking gets official recognition in France

France has been slow to adopt teleworking, with just 6% of people ever working from home in 2008 compared with, for instance, 42% in Denmark. It’s worse in the public sector with only 1% teleworking. By comparison, the figure in the US in 2007 for public sector teleworking was over 6% and around 7.5% in the UK.

It’s a situation that the French government started to address last year with a plan to review telework practices and see how it could be expanded. The idea was to draw up proposals and present them to the trade unions about now.

While there are cultural issues with working from home in France, legal uncertainty has also been seen to be blocking company efforts. As a start in addressing the issue, the French government has now officially defined teleworking, loosely translated as '”any form of work organisation in which work which could be performed on the employer’s premises is carried out by an employee from their premises on a regular basis, with voluntary use of the information technology and communication required, as part of an employment contract or an amendment thereto."


The definition is probably as much for the benefit of the French government’s own teleworking efforts as for business as a whole. Increasing teleworking in the public sector would help reduce carbon emissions towards the country’s goal of 20% reduction in the 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

There’s still lots of debate about the benefits of teleworking, but the balance of evidence is that, in most cases, working from home reduces carbon emissions. But it’s mainly from the reduction in commuting, so won’t always be the case. Also, with the efforts towards smart cities that I’ve reported on in the last couple of days, commuting emissions are likely to reduce in the future, decreasing the teleworking benefit.

But whether it’s smart cities or teleworking that reduces greenhouse gases, neither will be achievable without a significant ICT input.

(Thanks to

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