Teleworking – a Common but Unregulated Form of Working
Teleworking is a real and lasting form of working that is no longer an unattainable dream or a way of coping with the global pandemic. It has become a necessity, it is now a part of daily life. The need for flexible working relations has been discussed for years, but unfortunately, it has remained at the level of various draft legislation or protocols.
In Estonia, we are proud of the unicorns that have developed from the small start-ups founded here. Knowing their mentality, it is not unthinkable to claim that namely these enterprises are the bellwethers of flexible work formats. They have stri-ven forward and reached a goal regardless of the strict regulations of labour law, they have adapted modern solutions without thinking at what time the workday should start and end, and that generally the employer’s office should be regarded as “the real place of work”.
Working life adapts to the technological solutions and capabilities. Thanks to the mobile tools and convenient communication environments, the employees are avai-lable at all times and from everywhere. The location of doing one’s work is no longer of such importance as it was even only a year ago. The employers are more flexible because the employees have proven that they work hard also at distance. Together with responsibility, the workers have also been given the freedom to manage their time themselves and to work when it is possible and where they want.
However, the seemingly attractive but still clearly unregulated teleworking for-mat contains hidden risks for both the employees and the employers that both sides should be aware of. As the labour law regulates the employment relations of us all, it should be user-friendly. In the case of the work that can be performed by telewor-king, the result is important, but at the same time, the working process has to be safe for both the employer and the employee. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate the issues of the place of teleworking, hours of work and rest, protection of business secrets, cyber security, occupational health and safety, etc. The ability of the worker working at the computer monitor at home in creating safe working conditions around themselves cannot and must not be underestimated. At the same time, the employer should not be put in the situation where all the risks of working envi-ronment are their responsibility also when the employee works from home.
It is also necessary to retain the principle that the regulations should not be exces-sively detailed, and to establish general principles, which can be applied by each employer according to the nature of their business. The rule that whatever is not forbidden, is allowed should remain in force. Going to work no longer means the same as working; modern employers have understood that an hour spent at the table does not mean an hour of working, and it is also clear that all workers do not perform the same tasks at the same speed. Teleworking as one of the most impor-tant aspects defining flexible working is an invaluable part of motivation package for both the employee and the employer, and it should be made to work sustainably for both sides through reasonable regulation in legislation. This way, everybody would win and nobody would lose.