Two years ago, the COVID-19 health crisis sparked a spate of remote working as most countries had to implement strict security measures to keep businesses running.

But now that most of these measures have been lifted and life has returned to ‘normal’, many companies are still in the process of moving their one-time functions to wholly or partially external functions.

A recent research from job site Indeed found that the number of global job openings with an external component has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, nearly tripling from an average of just 2.5 percent in January 2020 to nearly 7.5 percent in September 2021.

Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries with the largest increases, and the United States is no stranger to the trend.

Distance opportunities jumped from less than 4 percent of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to about 9 percent at the end of 2020 and to more than 15 percent today in North America.

Data scientists at the career site Ladders believe that remote working has become an indispensable part of life, and that by the end of the year, a quarter of all professional jobs will be available remotely.

“This change in work arrangements is impossible to overhype. As big as it is, it’s even bigger than people think,” said Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella.

“Recruitment practices are usually at an icy pace, but the pandemic has turned up the heat, so we’re seeing a rapid flow of change in this space. It’s really quite amazing.”

But while much of the world seems to be rapidly embracing remote and hybrid working, some countries just haven’t adapted to the idea yet; whether for cultural, legal or technical reasons.

Czech Republic: legal uncertainty over the status of teleworkers

While remote working is becoming commonplace in most Western European countries, the flexible method is not fully accepted among Czechs, especially employers, despite the country being as technologically equipped as its peers.

The reason is quite simple: the Czech Republic is struggling to give telecommuters the right status, and the law does not specify whether a telecommuter is a normal worker or not, so companies prefer to avoid telecommuting given the legal uncertainty.

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The Czech Republic is the only country that has never given legal status to telecommuters, and although the government is beginning to debate the legislation of their status at the behest of the younger generations asking for changenot much progress has been made so far.

According to an Ipsos poll, 51 percent of Czech workers surveyed were interested in permanent remote work and 59 percent in a partial remote job.

France: the bad student of Europe

Meanwhile, France stands out as Europe’s underperforming student, as evidenced by: a study conducted jointly by Ifop and the Jean Jaurès FoundationOnly 34 percent of French regularly worked remotely during the pandemic, while it was carried out by 61 percent of Germans, 56 percent of Italians and 50 percent of British.

The time the French worked remotely was also lower than their European neighbors: 11 percent of them worked from home four to five days a week, compared to 30 percent of Italians.

These low numbers can be explained by the strong disparity between senior management – the majority of whom can work remotely – and the other socio-professional categories, who largely remain in their workplaces.

Age was also another factor in these disparities in France, with older workers being less familiar with digital technology than the “digital native” generation.

The French are known for their reluctance to change, so the situation may not change anytime soon. In addition, the culture of “presenteeism” – the practice of being present in the office despite illness – is still deeply ingrained in the minds of the older generation.

When asked whether they would like more or fewer remote working days, French respondents to the survey said they would like fewer teleworking days compared to their European neighbours.

Researchers believe that this low demand is the result of social interactions that are an important tool for decision-making in the French office, but also a form of resignation among many French employees who believe that remote working conditions are not accessible to them.

Japan: a strong culture of ‘presenteeism’

Japan, like France, is another country plagued by the culture of presenteeism.

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Many Japanese fear a lack of career advancement if they don’t work long hours in the office, and forcing these employees to resort to telecommuting because of the health crisis has turned out to be a disaster.

While most workers say working from home has made them more efficient than working from the office, Japanese workers have become less productive by an average of 20 percent, according to the report. a 2020 study by economist Toshihiro Okubo.

Japan also has a strong social work structure, which makes it a poor candidate for remote work, as employees prefer to work in teams and make assessments as a group, while foreign workers are typically given unique responsibilities and are assessed individually.

Mentoring and dialogue are two core values ​​of the Japanese work system, with senior employees supervising younger peers and informal conversations at the coffee machine strengthening contact within teams – something that just didn’t work in an external environment.

Lack of access to personal computers was another reason that made the transition to remote work very difficult for Japanese workers; the nation has one of the lowest rates for access to personal computers according to the OECD.

In addition, home offices are much less common than in the West due to the small size of the average city apartment and the prices of larger homes in Japan’s highly urbanized society.

China: a difficult transition

Despite China being the first country to resort to remote work as it was the first country to be affected by the coronavirus, the transition has still been relatively difficult for the Chinese workforce.

At the time, 40 percent of Chinese workers were forced to work from home, compared to just 7 percent of workers who had been allowed to do so until then — a rather unexpected cultural shift for a country deeply attached to presenteeism and hierarchies, according to consulting firm Bloomberg.

However, as the country began to shut down key affected regions, the use of digital technologies — including AI, location tracking, facial recognition, and so on — skyrocketed to contain the spread of the outbreak, and some companies began to hold their grip. on their employees, even remotely.

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Workers had to check in with their bosses every morning to tell them their location and if they had any symptoms of the virus.

China’s communist history may also explain the difficulty for the Chinese to work remotely as workers are forced to negotiate agreements collectively.

But despite the country’s strong collectivist culture, the new habits developed during the pandemic are slowly growing among Chinese workers and further development could be seen in the coming years.

Access to high-speed broadband in developing countries

For many countries, the pandemic has highlighted unequal digital access, another barrier to the successful transition to hybrid forms of work.

Unsurprisingly, developing countries are the most vulnerable, but many have taken positions at odds with their internet resilience.

For example, Mexico and Brazil are more internet-proof than Indonesia or Indiaaccording to economic advisers Bhaskar Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi.

Angola also stood out as the least suited to remote working in the world, with just 0.70 out of 100 people in the country having broadband access to a fixed line in 2020, compared to 36.41 in the US. according to the World Bank.

The number of telecommuters in the country remains difficult to estimate this year, as few figures were communicated by government agencies to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Overall, most countries around the world have experienced an undeniable shift in the ability to get work done beyond the confines of a traditional office, with many employees now equipped to log in from home after learning how to do this. have to do during the height of the pandemic.

Companies are now navigating the pros and cons of remote and hybrid work, choosing which aspects fit the particularities of their unique cultures.

So while some countries like France, Japan or China have been slower to adapt to remote work than the US or UK, hybrid and remote trends are here to stay – but so are the joys of chatting with colleagues on office .


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