Network F Supporting the adaptability of firms and employees to structural economic changes and the use of information technology and other new technologies.
Project name ENTER – Partnership for Telework, Entrepreneurship and Equality
Project number F0591

Project description

The main objective of the Partnership is to develop and disseminate comprehensive knowledge about flexible employment arrangements and influence public awareness of these issues with a view in combating labour market discrimination.

Due to a high unemployment rate, the rules on Polish labour market are being imposed by the employers. Candidates and workers are expected to meet increasingly higher requirements that in many cases exceed their actual capabilities. As a consequence, groups particularly vulnerable to discrimination emerged on the labour market: the residents of small localities, women with young children or people with disabilities may experience commuting problems or prove unable to meet availability levels expected by potential employers (e.g. taking overtime hours or working during weekends).

Teleworking, or work-from-home employment based on advanced information and telecommunication technologies, may well help to combat that discrimination. Teleworking arrangements are particularly suited for accountants, project managers, marketing, human resources and public relations specialists, finance analysts, commercial representatives, scientists, translators, proof-readers and programmers. Teleworking represents a number of new opportunities for both employers and employees. In Poland, however, the knowledge of such employment arrangements and related good practice is hardly available to HR managers and business owners. Legal, organisational and technical aspects of teleworking are little known or used on the market. Employers are reluctant to apply non-standard employment arrangements and fail to find proper candidates who are to work remotely. Enterprises, especially small and medium ones, are not adequately prepared in terms of infrastructure and equipment for teleworking. Prohibitive costs of telecommunication services are another serious impediment. Other obstacles are on the side of employees who are unaware of the challenges and opportunities associated with flexible employment arrangements. Some workers and unemployed people, even those expressing interest in teleworking, are devoid of adequate hardware or skills to operate modern telecommunication devices. A lack of legislative framework - a clear definition and interpretation of teleworking - is another barrier preventing a widespread use of that form of employment. According to all available forecasts, Polish companies will soon see their competitiveness dwindling on the ever changing markets, if they fail to improve their capacities in terms of modern telecommunication solutions and introduce flexible employment arrangements, such as teleworking. They will miss the opportunity to grow and use less expensive labour and experts from remote poorly urbanized areas.

The objective of the Partnership is to develop a Polish model of teleworking (intended primarily for small and medium enterprises) based on extensive survey of employers' and employees' needs, and to ensure that teleworking is widely used as a tool counteracting exclusion from the labour market, as well as to enhance awareness of advanced technologies of information society and teleworking among small and medium enterprises. Project beneficiaries will be recruited from owners and top management of small and medium enterprises (420 persons) and workers and unemployed people - potential teleworkers (780 persons) - who have experienced problems with occupational reintegration or are in danger of redundancy for inability to work under traditional 8 working hours arrangements. The beneficiaries represent various trades and businesses from all over Poland.

The Development Partnership will prepare a detailed report with information about teleworking needs and expectations based on a survey of employers and employees. The report will contain a review of the existing degree to which flexible employment arrangements are used and of the legal aspects of teleworking in Poland. As a result of collaborative efforts of the beneficiaries, labour market organisations and institutions, a Polish model of teleworking will be developed considering technical and telecommunication aspects of this form of employment. Experts from telecommunication sector will be involved at that stage of the Project to minimize infrastructural shortcomings. Legal experts will contribute to a detailed study of teleworking regulations (a review of existing legislative framework, recommendations on necessary changes and new draft regulations enabling the introduction of flexible employment arrangements). A comprehensive training module will be developed for teleworking trainers, employers, employees and the selfemployed. New training and informational materials will be tailored to the needs and expectations of employers and employees. The Laboratory - a teleworking pilot project of six months - will provide the beneficiaries with hands-on skills, as necessary for operation of modern technologies assisting flexible workers. The feedback on pilot project will be presented in special document that will help to promote the tested solutions and their dissemination on the labour market.

A guidebook on modern employment and flexible work arrangements, containing case studies of best practice (based mainly on experience gathered by project partners and beneficiaries) and foreign examples of such arrangements, will be an important product of Partnership's efforts. All relevant analyses, reports, information materials produced throughout the project will be available at the portal to provide an exhaustive teleworking database. Thanks to its interactivity (a forum, job offers, etc.), the portal will serve as a source of information and a platform for experience sharing between interested users. In addition, the portal will be an excellent venue for the promotion of Project outcomes.

Extensive dissemination activities involving other media than the Internet are foreseen. It is planned to publish reports, newsletters and host seminars and meetings with employers, employees and representatives of labour market organisations. Effective dissemination will broaden the knowledge of opportunities associated with teleworking, while raising awareness of the necessity to amend the legislative framework and enable the growth of the Polish labour market.