More than 59 countries have introduced telework as a measure to ensure social distancing in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Even countries that did not introduce lockdown measures have encouraged employers to allow working from home as a means to further physical distancing. Moreover, telework has been present as a new form of work arrangement prior to the pandemic, particularly for workers whose jobs are already enabled by the use of ICTs, driven by the digitalization of the workplace and the promise of more work-life balance. While a digital divide between developing and developed countries remains, the rapid growth in both imported low-cost devices and their development in developing countries has accelerated the global impact of technology on the lives of workers.

This guide provides an overview of the implications of teleworking arrangements for access to decent work and outlines the key principles for the effective regulation of telework through legislation and social dialogue. The guide follows the usual definition of telework as work performed with ICTs from outside the employer’s premises. This can involve traditional forms, such as working from home, or working from various alternative locations outside the employer’s central office. The term excludes home work, which involves work performed under the instruction of an employer or intermediary without the use of ICTs.