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Telework: different strategies for different companies

For many companies in Luxembourg, teleworking will remain the norm, though the policies vary. Photos: Maison Moderne; Shutterstock / Collage: Maison Moderne

For many companies in Luxembourg, teleworking will remain the norm, though the policies vary. Photos: Maison Moderne; Shutterstock / Collage: Maison Moderne

Some companies are planning a gradual return to the office, while others still want to balance on- and offsite work. Despite variations in policy, telework will remain widespread this academic year.

The bell will soon be ringing for pupils and students, but also for employees returning from their holidays. We contacted several large employers in Luxembourg to find out how it’s going to go.

A greater presence in the office will be the case at the CFL, at least for the 800 employees there who can telework in the first place (out of 4,800 total workers). “Since 1 July 2021, a sustainable teleworking arrangement has been in place,” says the CFL. There will be a transitional period during which onsite presence will gradually increase. By 1 October, these employees will be able to telework no more than two days per week. “Obviously, we are monitoring the situation closely and will react if necessary.”

At Post, too, “a large proportion of our functions are not eligible for telework.” For the others, “the division between office and telework is done by department. Post is preparing for a gradual return to the workplace from the autumn onwards.” The employer of 4,620 people does not name a number of possible days, but specifies that meetings by videoconference are still encouraged. Some meetings are also held under CovidCheck. The norms may change, too: teleworking conditions will be “worked out with social partners.”

Questions surrounding border workers

On 15 July, the 1,890 employees of the Banque Internationale à Luxembourg lost a day of telework per week, from three to two. “The organisation is done at the level of each team,” explains Olivier Kormann, head of people care, benefits and solutions. The firm wants to move to one day of teleworking per week, which should remain the norm after the crisis. But as of when? “We will decide in the next few days on the arrangements to be put in place.” The bank is obviously prepared to increase teleworking in the event of a new wave. It encourages people to be vaccinated, “but it is up to each individual to decide,” a position shared by all the other companies interviewed.

It is difficult for firms to organise teleworking rules for cross-border workers, since external regulations apply. As a reminder, such workers are taxable in their country of residence if they work more than a certain number of days per year at home, and fall under the social security system of their country of residence if they work more than 25% of their total working time at home. These restrictions have been suspended by crisis agreements, which are regularly renewed, as has just happened for France-resident workers regarding social security. For tax aspects, the current agreement pertaining to France- and Belgium-resident workers will expire on 30 September unless it is further extended.

“On 1 October, we should therefore have a significant number of border workers returning to onsite work,” says Stéphanie Hayart, human resources director at CTG IT Solutions. Most of the firm’s 165 employees usually work at client sites, but many of these have closed their doors to consultants. As a result, “we are in the process of adapting our premises” to make room for employees, in case they can no longer work from home. Ideally, the company would like to offer two days of teleworking per week.

Different types of rotation

At ING Luxembourg (890 employees), “We are continuing our 50/50 rotation system. Half of the staff come to the office while the other half telecommute, alternating every two weeks.” For the post-crisis period, the bank recommends a hybrid system which will depend on agreements with bordering countries.

At BGL BNP Paribas (4,050 employees), the weekly rotation system also remains in force. The bank says that it is studying “approaches for setting up a permanent telework system.”

At Société Générale, two options are possible for the 1,200 employees: “Alternating one week out of two or alternating three and two days a week,” explains Philippe Perain, director of human resources. The system is “adaptable and reversible depending on the health situation.” Eventually, the bank wants to “extend teleworking.”

For those ArcelorMittal employees who are able to telework, out of 3,660 in total, “we ask for at least two days of presence per week.” The discussions for the post-covid period will also depend on border agreements. At the factory, the rules of social distancing will not change.

The same is true at Goodyear, where those who can work from home--out of 3,570 total--can do so part of the time.

Telework will therefore remain a strong reality for this second year under covid. But it remains to be seen how permanent it will become in the long run.

This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.