Virtual work refers to a new reality where technologies enable employees to work from any place at any time. Increasing number of employers are using new ways of work and organisations facilitated by new information and communication technologies (ICT). Overall, ICT may offer flexible responses to a number of issues that employers and employees are concerned about. However, some problems or risks have been also identified, for example, working long hours, informal work, isolation, and new managerial practises, which have been associated with new forms of control and surveillance instead of increased workers’ autonomy. The identification of risks on virtual work has led European trade unions as representatives of employees to include the topic in their agenda. Nevertheless, how social dialogue and collective bargaining is addressing digitalisation and ICT work is an issue that remains to some extent unexplored, especially at company level.

The aim of the project is to analyse how social dialogue and collective bargaining are addressing the effects of virtual work on working conditions. More specifically, the following questions are addressed:

  • how is the topic of virtual work understood and framed by trade unions and employer organisations at national and sectoral level;
  • how has it been addressed in national, sectoral and company-level social dialogue and collective bargaining practices,
  • which good practises of social dialogue at company level addressing the topic of virtual work can be identified?

The study is includes five countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Portugal, and Spain) and conenctrates on three sectors in which virtual work is most used (financial activities and computer programming, consultancy and related activities) or has become more widespread recently (care activities).