September arrives. Back to school and to the office. to the routine For many Spanish workers this year is going to be different. Although teleworking has not penetrated as much as in other countries after the pandemic (in Ireland it has increased 11 percentage points; in the Netherlands, 7, and in Germany, about 4, compared to the Spanish drop of 1.6 points between 2020 and 2022), there are many companies that can and do encourage it. Employees who work remotely in Spain have gone from 4.8% to 9.8% between 2019 and 2022. And more and more professionals decide to extend their stay at the vacation spot even if they have to return to their professional work thanks to this system. It is what is known as worked (English term that responds to the mixture of work and vacations). A system that is preventing, according to Sodexo, that many workers (in Spain, one in three) develop the so-called post-holiday syndrome.
Óscar Mellado, a 36-year-old computer developer, is the envy of all his peers on the Eventbrite ticketing platform. He has been in Bali since July. “I have been alternating vacations and telecommuting. The feeling generated by working like this, although at the work level the hours are the same, and the tasks, like those of any other time of the year, is that of being on vacation even if you are not. It’s strange”, he acknowledges, while he is delighted to be able to use his leisure time to get to know the Indonesian island without hurry, to experience the place the local way, to practice surfing, rollerblading or skateboarding. “It’s great,” he exclaims. In a few days he will travel to Korea taking advantage of its proximity to Bali and the vacations that he still has to enjoy, yes, without the need to rent a house equipped for teleworking, to hire fiber optics so that the connections do not fail and to look for collaborative work just in case.
Mellado, who has chosen the third work model offered by Eventbrite (face-to-face, hybrid and 100% remote), finds it difficult to understand that companies like Apple force their employees to return to the offices in September at least three days a week after two and a half years working online. He does not believe that it will change the designs of the rest of the companies. “It’s a mistake,” appreciates Consuelo Arribas, an employee of Liberty Seguros, “because the happier the employee is, the better they work and the more productive they are for the company.”
Federico Menaier, a 34-year-old Argentine with one residence in Spain, is a colleague of Óscar Mellado on Eventbrite and is also on the beach, in this case in Menorca. He lives in Granollers (Barcelona) and has not stopped working all summer. But at the same time he has been able to meet his family in Valencia and on the Balearic island and get to know these destinations. In October he will take vacations, he wants to travel to Amsterdam and Berlin, as well as save money to visit his family in Argentina for Christmas. “This work system allows me to rest without taking leave every day together,” he says. It is the first time that he does it and he is delighted.
Happiness is what Antonio Fernández Villanueva, 50-year-old insurance underwriter at Liberty, and Saúl Rodríguez, 46-year-old head of social media at BBVA, say they feel. September is starting and the former is still enjoying the beach near Punta Umbría ( Huelva), and the second, from the tranquility of Pedraza, a Segovian town of 150 inhabitants. Fernández Villanueva took his vacations in July and has extended his stay at his second residence “as if he hadn’t stopped being on vacation.” Instead, Rodríguez, who also resides in Madrid, is choosing to group his teleworking days into long periods (10 or 14 days) to spend them in the family home in Pedraza and also be able to take some days off. He has been with this regimen in July and August, and will extend it to September, he foresees. In this way he avoids traffic jams, the loss of time involved in traveling to work, and also “in the morning I walk, I see deer, foxes…, I start the day differently. It’s another speed for everything”, he comments.
“It’s all advantages,” according to Jennifer Sesmero, who spent the entire month of August teleworking in Matalascañas (Huelva) with her parents, “whom I only see twice a year.” The 43-year-old head of cybersecurity training and talent at BBVA has been trying to spend extended stays with her family since 2020. The entity chaired by Carlos Torres does not offer its employees 100% remote work, as Liberty or ING can do, but those who take advantage of the flexible model can work remotely 40% of the time each quarter, explains Olga Urrutia, head of culture of BBVA. When signing the contract, they have the possibility of including two addresses from which to work.
“The telecommuting model has been a success, since all the employees who could opt for it have done so. There are more than 12,000 in Spain. And it gives an idea of what they value flexibility,” he adds. Urrutia indicates that the bank is looking for ways to extend this flexibility to all its departments (especially commercial banking and networks) so that the entire workforce can benefit from working remotely. And it is that employee satisfaction surveys indicate that it increases commitment and productivity, and it shows in the results, he maintains.
In the case of Eventbrite, surveys of workers indicate that 9 out of 10 believe that flexibility is fundamental to their performance because it allows them to reconcile work and personal life. In fact, the preference for telecommuting has multiplied by 10, according to Julia Collado, the company’s talent acquisition specialist. In her opinion, the great advantage is the immense power that it gives the employee to be able to choose their working hours. The downside, the lack of connection with the rest of the squad.
“It is the benefit most valued by the people who work at Liberty since its implementation a year ago. And it has been even more valued during the vacation period, during which many colleagues have chosen to move at the beginning of the summer to their second residences or to other family residences scattered throughout the national territory, or are extending their return by working from there . Something that helps us all to extend vacations in some way and to facilitate the organization of family life in these months that can be more complicated”, appreciates Beatriz Ortega, head of employee experience at Liberty Seguros Europe, where 20% of the Spanish workforce has formalized a second residence as a place of work.
The company’s claims processor, Consuelo Arribas, 54, has chosen to rent a house for the summer in Palma de Mallorca, ensuring a good internet connection through a clause in the contract. She has combined telecommuting and vacations while her family stayed home. “It’s the best thing I’ve done in my life by far,” she says, and her friends tell her that she has rejuvenated in these two months, she laughs.