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Who pays for the chair, the coffee or the toilet paper? The emergence of teleworking changes labor standards around the world

As the pandemic sweeps the world and tens of millions of workers barricade themselves at home to work, a question looms over them: who pays for the coffee and toilet paper? The answer, according to the Dutch: the bosses. And how much? About two euros per working day, on average.

That not only covers the coffee, tea and toilet paper used in working hours, but also the gas, electricity and extra water, plus the depreciation costs of the desk and chair, essential things for which the employee you wouldn’t have to worry at the office.

“We have literally calculated up to how many teaspoons there are in an average household, so from there it is not so difficult to establish the costs,” says Gabrielle Bettonville, from the Dutch public institution of family finance NIBUD, who has investigated the additional costs of the work from distance. The Dutch authorities have already begun to apply the Nibud investigation, and have been offering a covid-19 bonus of 363 euros since March for officials who telecommute.

That accounting may seem trivial at a time when the world is overwhelmed by a pandemic, but it is pertinent, as experts predict that telecommuting could be a permanent legacy of the crisis. In Spain, 76% of workers would like to continue teleworking beyond the pandemic, according to a study published this Wednesday by the human resources company ManpowerGroup. Although it is not fully applied, 43% do believe that the coronavirus crisis “has marked the end of 100% face-to-face work.” In fact, they believe that it will evolve towards a hybrid model.

Of course, the two euros a day proposed by the Dutch institution are for an average worker with average costs, but they can be adjusted depending on measures such as heating and water bills or the cold insulation capacity of the employee’s house. . But it does not cover new furniture, computers, telephones or other devices that Nibud says are also paid for by the employer if they are necessary for work.

Other countries are also adjusting to the new reality of working from home, realizing that many employees have little desire to return to the office full time, even after the pandemic has passed. Spain has forced employers to pay for home office equipment and maintenance; Germany is debating a bill that enshrines the rights of remote workers; France has passed a law so that employees do not have to attend to email outside of working hours; while Britain has hinted that it could allow tax deduction for computers and other equipment purchased for teleworking during the pandemic.

But few nations have gone as deep into the details as the Dutch. “The government has set a good example here,” said José Kager, of FNV, the largest union in the Netherlands, which wants all workers employed from home to receive compensation. as established by Nibud.

On the other hand, the spokesman for the Dutch employers’ association AWVN, Jannes van der Velde, has assured that the Nibud calculations did not reflect all the benefits of teleworking. “The unions are calling for companies to pay for coffee to those who work from home, but they do not say that they are enjoying much more free time in return,” he said, assuring that those who telework save half an hour a day in commuting . While workers should be compensated for the costs of having the home office, the counterpart will be to cut their compensation for car rental and other transportation benefits, added the employer’s spokesman.