The rise of remote work in France: facts and figures
Updated: April 9, 2022 by Elie in About France ▪
In France, as in other countries, working remotely is on the rise. Remote work, or “le télétravail” in French, is the desire of a majority of employees. Certainly, remote work comes with benefits but also has a number of pitfalls. This article covers the status of remote work in France with the latest statistics and related vocabulary of remote work in French.
In this article we’ll discuss:
- What is remote work?
- History of remote work
- Remote work in 2021
- How to say remote work in French?
- How popular is remote work in France?
- Remote work in France by the numbers
- Benefits of remote work
- Pitfalls of remote work
- Remote work: a response to many societal challenges
What is remote work?
Remote work is any work that an employee does from outside the company’s office.
In terms of frequency: There are various types of remote work based on the work arrangement between an employee and an employer. While some employees work remotely as often as they want while others are allowed to work remotely for a few days a week.
In terms of location: While some remote workers prefer to work exclusively from home, others like to work in public places. Many remote workers alternate between working from home and going to cafés or to co-working spaces (whenever possible). In some cases, the location from which the employee can work remotely must be an approved worksite by the employer.
Remote vs. Nomad: This brings us to another type of remote worker. It is the digital nomad-type remote workers who work from anywhere (as long as there’s WiFi). The flexible workplace limit is pushed beyond the borders of a city. In reality, nomad workers switch their work location and, frequently move between cities and countries.
In some cases, a remote job is not an option whenever the presence of an employee is required. Employees willing to telecommute should hold a job that is compatible with remote work. For instance, it’s easy to work remotely if you are a web developer, a graphic designer, or a freelance writer. However, if you work as a teacher at a physical school or provide an in-person service remote work might not be an option.
History of Remote Work
There are many terms to refer to remote work in English. In fact, remote work hasn’t always been called remote work. In the 1970s, Jack Nilles coined the term telework and telecommuting. Telework or teleworking is when someone takes work home after being at work while telecommuting is when someone works at home instead of commuting to an office building.
While remote work is the most used way to refer to work done from a location different from a central place of work, there are other terms that can be used to refer to remote work. As reported in this article, distributed work, mobile work, smart working (UK), and workshifting (Canada) are terms that people use to talk about remote work in 2020.
Remote Work in 2021
Remote work is reshaping the way people work and live. The traditional workplace is experiencing significant change as new technology and millennials’ requirements are changing the world of remote work. On the one hand, technology makes telecommuting easier and more effective than ever before. On the other hand, millennials want more freedom and more flexibility. They want to work remotely.
Therefore, a growing number of employees are looking for remote work opportunities. At the same time, many companies are open to recruiting and building remote teams across different countries. In fact, skilled talents are located outside the border of cities/countries. While many companies have offices as well as remote teams, other companies, like Doist, Zapier, or Buffer, are totally remote. In 2021, it’s easier than ever to work with colleagues that are anywhere across the globe! Search and apply for the latest remote jobs here.
How to say remote work in French?
The word “télétravail” in French means remote work. This is the term that you’ll mostly use to refer to remote work. Although the literal translation of télétravail is telework, it is the French term to refer to remote work in 2020. Alternative terms to say remote work in French exists. Here are the 3 most common ways to say remote work in French:
- travail à distance
- travail à domicile
In the following sections, we’ll address remote work in France, the numbers, the trends, and cover the essential vocabulary for remote work in French. If you’d like to grow your French for business vocabulary, check this article about the vocabulary of remote work in French.
How popular is Remote Work in France?
In France, a recent study by Eurostat shows that the percentage of people who work from home is 6.6%. Compared to other Europeans, work from home seems more popular in France than in Germany (5%) or in the UK (4.4%). The Netherlands ranks at the top with a share of 14% of people who usually work from home in 2018 followed by Finland with a share of 13.3%. The average in the EU is 5.2% of employed persons aged 15 to 64 in the European Union (EU) who worked from home in 2018. Check this article to find more about remote-based jobs in France.
Looking at the numbers in the US, workers who are not self-employed and work from home at least half of the time are estimated to be around 5.2% as shown in the statistics of the U.S. census data.
Remote Work in France by the numbers
There is a growing shift toward remote work in France. Employees express much enthusiasm and interest in remote work. In France, 61% of the employees are looking forward to benefiting from their right to work remotely.
A new study confirmed that remote work is gaining growing traction in France. In the span of two years, the share of remote workers in France increased from 25% in 2017 to 29% in 2019. While 54% of the surveyed employees cited that the absence of daily commute is the main benefit of remote work, 36% of the employees are also interested in the time flexibility that remote work brings.
Besides the absence of commute, a 2019 survey found that remote work allowed employees to have a better work-life balance (44%), be less stressed (31%), have more autonomy in their work (25%), be more productive (19%), and more motivated (6%). In the same survey, 6% of the employees mentioned that they don’t see any benefit related to remote work.
Benefits of Remote Work
Assuming that you have all the equipment that you need to get you online: a WIFI internet connection, a laptop or a desktop computer, a smartphone to connect from coffee shops. Let’s start with some of the well-known benefits of remote work.
Remote Work and Flexibility
For those who work remotely, there is one thing that they share in common. It is flexible. An increasing amount of businesses recognize the benefit of flexible working. Parents can now get more flexibility in their schedules. And one of the best perks of remote work is the absence of a daily commute to or from work! People have a greater choice about where they live with a population shift from big cities to less populated areas.
- flexibility: souplesse
- schedules flexibility: souplesse des horaires
- commute time to work: durée des trajets pour se rendre au travail
People who work from home have a better work-life balance. Although remote work has blurred some of the boundaries between work and home lives, remote workers often report less stress and a better focus. Employees who suffered from the policy of open spaces can now benefit from a less distracting environment.
Many people who work from home can structure their workdays in a way that supports their productivity. People are less likely to be distracted and therefore enjoy a more focused work environment than the one at the office.
- remote workers: télétravailleurs
- blur the boundaries between work and home lives: diminuer la distinction entre travail et vie perso
- better work-life balance: meilleur équilibre entre la vie pro et la vie perso
- support their productivity: renforcer la productivité
- more focused work environment: environnement de travail plus favorable à la concentration
Remote work not only improves employees’ work-life balance but also productivity and retention rates increases within your company. However, organizations must take action to create a sense of belonging among remote employees. In addition, every company has to build a successful remote culture for its workforce.
Remote work contributes to job satisfaction. But without a sense of belonging employees’ turnover or productivity might suffer. Job satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and productivity go hand in hand. As reported in this research, feeling a sense of belonging, which is when we feel safe and valued for embracing what makes us different, makes us happier and more productive.
Pitfalls of remote work
Remote work has certainly many benefits but also a number of pitfalls. Workers and employers should be aware of these challenges to avoid burnouts, turnovers, and low productivity.
No physical boundaries
Most remote workers prefer to work from home. Setting up a home office is not always easy. First, not everyone has enough space to set up a home office. The absence of a dedicated space for work is one of the reasons that push back many people from embracing remote work. Second, many people dislike working in the same place where they live and relax and this is regardless of having the place or not. Third, setting up an office is an investment and in many situations, it’s not supported by employers.
- the absence of a dedicated space for work: l’absence d’espace dédié au travail
- home office: bureau à la maison
Distractions are not only at the office. When working at home, you may get distracted by family members, kids, or friends. Be sure to set up a clear work schedule so that you avoid daily-life distractions at a time when you are supposed to work. Establishing a routine is recommended so that you set boundaries between your work-related tasks and your home duties and parental responsibilities.
- establish a routine: mettre en place une routine
- distractions: les distractions
Loneliness of remote workers
The State of Remote Work report provides a number of drawbacks and pitfalls that surround working remotely. Loneliness is one of the two biggest struggles when working remotely. A physical office usually means real-life interactions with colleagues and for many, this is a major part of social life.
Without a traditional office and colleagues, remote workers need to take action and have plans to boost the social side of their life. For instance, simple things can help such as regularly going to work from a public place or sharing a co-working space that’s not too far from where they live. This is important to stay motivated.
- loneliness: isolement
- unplugging from work: se déconnecter du travail
- co-working place: espace de partage de bureaux (you can say co-working in French that’s fine)
Unplugging is another challenge
Unplugging from work is another major struggle that many people face when working at home. Sure schedule flexibility is a benefit but this might become a pitfall if not controlled. People must learn how to control their inboxes and instant communication tools.
If you are a remote worker, it’s possible to be online at any time from anywhere but that doesn’t mean that you should be reachable all the time. Be sure to disconnect, go for a walk, to spend some time with your kids and partner.
- reachable: joignable
- available: disponible
- online: en ligne
- away: absent
- disconnect: déconnecté
Remote workers have to take regular breaks from work. On a daily basis, they need to go for a walk and schedule offline time. They should plan for a vacation or annual leave as well. This is important to stay in shape and happy while working remotely.
Remote work A Response to Many Societal Challenges
Many companies around the world have embraced the work from anywhere movement for different reasons. In the previous years, organizations saw a benefit to reduce their costs (smaller offices), improving their employees’ work-life balance (traffic jams, work responsibilities, family roles), to take action for environmental reasons (reducing traffic and air pollution).
More recently, the rapid outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pushed governments to take action to protect public health in general and organizations to care about employees’ health in particular. Amid concern over coronavirus outbreaks, many companies are totally shifting to remote work or encouraging their employees to work remotely whenever possible. Big tech firms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple asked their employees to work from home.
With the viruses threatening people’s health worldwide, remote work is one way how society responds in order to limit or slow the transmission of the disease. In the meantime, the reality is that a new population of remote workers suddenly emerged. These first-time remote workers haven’t opted for remote work by a deliberate choice. Many were not prepared to start working from home. They were urged to start working remotely as a temporary emergency solution, which is completely legitimate.
But when people are not well prepared, equipped, and guided by their organizations working remotely might turn out extremely ineffective and build up further bad expectations and frustrations as reported in this article. Today companies must take this into consideration.
At the same time, this shows that there is a growing need to focus on training and preparing remote employees to learn how to do their work while working differently!
Ready to start working remotely?
Of course, remote work introduced new challenges and has its share of problems but in general remote work increased employee satisfaction. People, and companies, should prepare for remote work. It’s not something that can be done overnight. Different people have different situations and their needs aren’t the same.
It’s always a good idea to test and evaluate remote work a few days a week/per month. This is essential before deciding to go remote on a full-time basis at your current company or start hunting for a full-time remote job opportunity.
Are you a remote worker? Do you like working remotely? Please add your comment below. And if you enjoyed reading this article, please subscribe to the weekly newsletter of Master Your French.
Great article Elie, looking forward to see what the future of remote work in France turns out to be after this crisis.