The step by MEPs signals the solidification of workers’ rights in the face of ‘return to office’ lobbying.
The Future Workforce Alliance (FWA), a bipartisan consortium of policymakers and sector leaders, has launched the European Charter for Digital Workplace Wellbeing.
The move comes amidst a workforce mental health crisis that spiked during the pandemic and is yet to subside, impacting both sides of the Atlantic. An EU survey from Spring 2022 of more 27,000 employed workers, revealed that 44% experienced an increase in work-related stress. And, in a February 2023 survey of 10,243 global workers by US think-tank Future Forum, 42% reported burnout.
The European Charter for Digital Workplace Wellbeing has been signed by a group of 31 MEPs, including MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.
Under the Charter, MEPs are calling to modernise Europe’s policy approach to workplace wellbeing by focusing on solutions across four themes: life beyond work, social connection, privacy and trust and digital wellness.
The proposed solutions include increasing access to co-working spaces, curbing employee surveillance software, and establishing the first-ever legal definition for what constitutes a healthy relationship with technology in the workplace.
MEP Dragoș Pîslaru said: “Digital wellbeing has to be the driver for businesses in the transition for a sustainable and prosperous future. The remote work, hybrid models and flexible work-life relationships are an added value for our economy, business and workers. These should not come at the cost of our people with blurred lines between personal and professional life, increasing burnout rates and loneliness. It is our moment to look into innovative solutions that protect the mental health and wellbeing of current and future generations of workers.”
MEP Lidia Pereira, President of Youth EPP, and the first to sign the charter, said: “It’s time to provide official guidance to companies on utilising workplace technologies to empower employees instead of overwhelming them. Workplace wellbeing must be looked at holistically, and now is the time to create policies that harness the benefits of online working while mitigating the risks.”
The Charter is a significant milestone for the FWA, an organisation that brings together politicians and sector leaders to create a more fair, healthy and inclusive workforce. Alongside policymakers, the FWA is formed by a variety of business influencers, academics and workers’ rights activists.
Filipa Matos, co-founder of the Future Workforce Alliance, and VP of Special Operations at Remote.com, said: “At Remote, we’ve built a 1,000-person unicorn in four years without deviating from the principles outlined in this charter. Prioritising the wellbeing of your people does not have to come at the cost of growth. By participating in the FWA, our aim is to show the business community that a new way is not only possible, but preferable.”
Ben Marks, co-founder of the Future Workforce Alliance, and executive director of the #WorkAnywhere Campaign, concluded: “Without remote work, millions of people, including many parents, carers and people with disabilities, would be unable to access employment. That’s why it’s crucial that we build on the progress of the last few years and create a future of work that actually works for everyone. By helping to solve the inevitable challenges of such a major societal transition, the European Charter for Digital Workplace Wellbeing represents a crucial step towards this vision.“