What is happening with remote work in Spain? Spain vs Europe

After the world was forced to work from home due to Covid-19, the phrase “remote work is here to stay” was repeated constantly in the news, analysis, and reports. Now,…

After the world was forced to work from home due to Covid-19, the phrase “remote work is here to stay” was repeated constantly in the news, analysis, and reports. Now, data from the American consulting firm Gartner seems to confirm this statement since it pointed out that during 2021 30% of professionals worldwide worked from home, and we can expect that this percentage will keep increasing up to 48%.

According to the consulting firm Gallup, remote work increased from 42% to 49% between February and June 2022 in the United States. In Europe the situation is no different, data published by Eurostat confirms that the percentage of remote workers increased by 8% between 2019 and 2021.

Related: Changing Work Priorities In The New Generations, It Is No Longer All About The Salary

What is happening in Spain?

In Spain, the reality of remote work has been different. In 2021, even with almost 3 million workers working from home, this figure did not reach the European average, and this may be due to the country’s production model. The good thing is that little by little the figures have been improving, and Spain has also taken measures to encourage remote work, one of them being the visa for digital nomads.

First, let’s review some data from Adecco Company. When the world was at the peak of the pandemic and with the alarm decree activated in March 2020, more than 3.5 million people in Spain were displaced to their homes, and by the beginning of 2021, the figure moderated to 2.86 million. However, by the end of the same year, this figure did not reach the same level of insertion as in other EU countries: in Spain, it stood at 14.5% compared to 21.5% in the rest of Europe.

Sweden and Holland were the countries with the highest number of home workers for the same year, with 40.9% and 40.1% respectively, slightly below Luxembourg (37.5%) and Finland (33.5%) but still at a considerable distance from Spain. In the case of neighboring countries, only Italy is below Spain with 9.8%, a significant difference between these two countries in comparison with France (28.3%) and Portugal (20.7%).

The reason behind these figures may be due to several things. First of all, Spain’s production model is based on jobs that are not entirely compatible with home working since many positions are linked to the hotel industry, commerce, and tourism. Another factor is the strong work tradition or culture, based on physical presence at the workplace, which may have led the country to stop imposing mandatory home working after the first wave of Covid-19. 

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Among this, it also needs to be considered the law passed by the Spanish government in September 2020 to regulate work from home, which has limited the flexibility of companies and obliges them to cover costs that not all of them are willing to assume. The public sector was also affected by this measure, as Josetxo Gándara, a union representative of the State Administration, explains “Everything was done in a very disorderly way, without protocols, and without remedying security problems, as was seen with the cyber-attack on the SEPE (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal”).

Remote work in Spain today

Spain seems to be capitalizing on the interest in hybrid work modality and remote working by passing the Startup Act, which is expected to attract digital nomads to the country. Under this law, any non-EU citizen can apply for a special visa to work in the country as a digital nomad for up to five years.

Provided that no more than one-fifth of their income comes from organizations based in Spain, the normal 25% income tax rate will be reduced to 15% during the first four years of residence in the country. Also, digital nomads will be able to bring close relatives to live with them.

These efforts show that for Spain, remote work is the future, as Dr. Edgar Sanchez, collaborating professor at TBS Education in Barcelona and expert in Consumer Behavior and Neuromarketing, mentions, the adoption of remote work by Spanish society and companies can be fundamental for development and progress. Not to mention the variety of work options that open up for employees with special needs or challenging geographical locations.

Related: Fastest Growing Startups in Spain: Outside Madrid and Barcelona

Why Spain is perfect for remote work

Spain offers a great combination of factors that make it an ideal location for remote work. The country has a relatively mild climate, making it possible to work comfortably outside for much of the year. Spain also has a rich culture and history, which can provide inspiration and a sense of connection for people working remotely. Additionally, this country has a well-developed infrastructure and excellent transportation options, which make it easy to get around and access amenities.

The cost of living in Spain is not the cheapest in Europe but is relatively low compared to other Western European countries, which makes it an affordable option for remote workers. Overall, Spain’s combination of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern infrastructure make it an attractive destination for people looking to work remotely.

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