Policy brief

Blending the physical and virtual: a hybrid model for the future of work

The pandemic has shown that many workers can efficiently work remotely, with benefits for wellbeing and even productivity. The European Union should d

Publishing date
09 June 2021

Executive summary

With the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, countries are beginning to imagine a future in which workers’ and employers’ choices are not conditioned by the pandemic. The crisis hit everyone hard but also generated an opportunity. It has shown that workers with suitable jobs can efficiently work remotely, with no negative implications for their productivity or performance. Telework may even unlock new working processes with the ultimate effect of increasing productivity. The pandemic crisis has also emphasised the need for the creation of safeguards within the work environment to protect workers’ well-being and to ensure an efficient blending of remote and on-site workers, with no differences in the way they are treated or their career opportunities.

From a European Union policy perspective, there is a clear opportunity to build on the lesson from the pandemic and create the conditions for hybrid work models within the single market. European trade unions and business federations should grab that opportunity and start an EU dialogue between employers, employees and governments. We recommend that the dialogue should lead to the adoption of a new Framework Agreement on Hybrid Work that would supersede the 2002 Framework Agreement on Telework. The new framework could set out the conditions for a general increase in teleworking.

The Framework Agreement on Hybrid Work should not aim to dictate employers’ internal work organisation or workers’ choices. However, it should aim to facilitate the implementation of flexible working conditions, ensuring minimum protection levels for on-site and hybrid workers equally, while fostering harmonisation within the EU single market and making it easier for workers to be geographically mobile.

 

Recommended citation
Grzegorczyk, M., M. Mariniello, L. Nurski and T. Schraepen (2021) 'Blending the physical and virtual: a hybrid model for the future of work', Policy Contribution 14/2021, Bruegel

 

This policy contribution was produced within the project “Future of Work and Inclusive Growth in Europe“, with the financial support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

About the authors

  • Mario Mariniello

     

    Mario Mariniello was Senior Fellow at Bruegel. He led Bruegel’s Future of Work and Inclusive Growth project, which closely analyses the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the nature, quantity and quality of work, welfare systems and inclusive growth at large. In particular, the role of technology in reshaping society when subject to extreme stress (i.e. during a pandemic).

    Before joining Bruegel, Mario was Digital Adviser at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), a European Commission in-house think-tank that operated under the authority of President Jean-Claude Juncker. The EPSC provided the President and the College of Commissioners with strategic, evidence-based analysis and forward-looking policy advice. In his capacity of Digital Adviser, Mario led the EPSC’s work on Digital Single Market issues.

    Mario has also previously been a Bruegel Fellow focusing on “Competition Policy and Regulation”. From 2007 to 2012, Mario was a member of the Chief Economist Team at DG-Competition, European Commission. During that time, he developed the economic analysis of a number of topical antitrust and merger cases in the technological and transport sectors.

    Mario holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Organization from the European University Institute of Fiesole (Florence) and a M.Sc. in Economics from CORIPE (Turin). He currently teaches a course in Digital Economy at the College of Europe and has previously taught a course in European Economic Integration for Master students at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

    Declaration of interests 2021

    Declaration of interest 2020

    Declaration of interest 2015

  • Tom Schraepen

    Tom works at Bruegel as a Future of Work and Inclusive Growth Consultant. He obtained his BSc in Business Engineering and his MSc in Applied Economics from KU Leuven. He wrote his master’s thesis in the field of innovation economics.

    At Bruegel, he mainly works on the Future of Work and Inclusive Growth project. He researches the twin transition, the digital economy and labour market inequality. 

    Tom is a Belgian citizen. He is fluent in Dutch and English, and advanced in French.

  • Monika Grzegorczyk

    Monika worked at Bruegel as a Research Analyst until August 2022. Monika is completing her second master’s degree in Models and Methods of Quantitative Economics at Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne and UCLouvain. She holds a BSc in finance and a MA in Political Science. Her research interests include monetary policy, financial regulations, and structural reforms.

    Prior to Bruegel, Monika worked as a Junior Economist at OECD on the qualitative and quantitative assessment of the implementation of structural policies and recommended actions. She was able to apply new machine learning methods such as Natural Language Processing for textual analysis.

    Monika was a trainee at governmental bodies (the Polish Finance Ministry, Ministry of the Interior and Administration, and the Polish delegation to OECD) and worked for non-governmental organisation (Foundation Institute for Strategic Studies). She also gained her experience through research assistance at the Paris School of Economics on Macroeconomic imbalances procedure (published as European Parliament Study).

  • Laura Nurski

    Laura Nurski leads the Future of Work and Inclusive Growth project which analyses the impact of technology on the nature, quantity and quality of work, welfare systems and inclusive growth.

    Before joining Bruegel, she investigated the impact of job design and organisation design on wellbeing and productivity at work. This inherently multidisciplinary domain has left her with a broad social science background, encompassing psychology, sociology and economics.

    Laura is passionate about data and technology. As a former data scientist in the financial and retail sector, she developed machine learning models and big data analytics. She is also a skilled statistical programmer, survey developer and open-source aficionado.

    Laura holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Organization, a M.Sc. in Economics and a M.A. in Business Engineering from KU Leuven.

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