Telework in Switzerland

The rise in telework is revolutionizing traditional employment structures by allowing professionals to perform their work tasks remotely. This blog provides a comprehensive overview of telework in Switzerland, including a definition of what telework is, the various forms of telework, its advantages and challenges, and additional insights for both employers and employees. It also explores some important practical and legal considerations for employers looking to implement telework structures in their organization.

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  • Telework enables work outside the company’s office
  • Home office is a special form of telework
  • Flexibility and cost savings as benefits for employers
  • Communication difficulties and social isolation as disadvantages
  • In Switzerland, employees do not have an explicit legal right to telework


  • Highlights & content
  • What is telework?
  • What types of telework are there?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of telework
  • Do employees have a legal right to telework?
  • Practical and legal considerations for employers
  • Updated social insurance regulations applying to telework
  • Introducing telework in your company?

What is telework?

Telework, often called remote work or telecommuting, refers to all professional work activities that are performed remotely outside of the employer’s business premises. Telework predominantly involves the use of telecommunications and other information technologies to connect with colleagues, access company resources, and fulfill job responsibilities remotely.

In telework arrangements, the employee’s place of work is usually their own home but can also be in third locations in the case of mobile telework.

Difference between telework and home office

Telework encompasses a broad spectrum of remote work activities, including all forms of work that take place outside of the company’s physical premises. Telework has a clear legal definition in Swiss labor law with associated rules, guidelines, and regulations that employers and employees need to adhere to during such work arrangements.

In contrast, home office specifically refers to work arrangements where the employee performs work duties from their own home, meaning it is just one form of telework. There is also no clear legal definition of “home office” in Swiss labor law.

This makes it a more relaxed and informal arrangement; however, it can also lead to issues as there are no clear rules and guidelines about the conditions under which employees are allowed to work at home or the rights and responsibilities of both parties under such arrangements.

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What types of telework are there?

Telework can take on various forms:

  • Home telework: In a home telework arrangement, the employee works exclusively from home and therefore doesn’t have a physical workplace in the company. Home teleworkers can be hired as regular full- or part-time employees or as freelancers.
  • Alternating telework: A more common variant of home telework is alternating telework. Here, the employee alternates between working at the physical offices of the company and at their home office. This also means they maintain their own workspace at the company office.
  • Mobile telework: Mobile telework refers to remote work in third locations (i.e., not at the company premises or at home). Mobile telework is most often performed by field employees, sales representatives, reporters, consultants and other professionals who frequently travel for work and change their location often. It can also apply to regular employees who have permission to work remotely wherever they choose (e.g., coffee shops, hotels, etc.)
  • Shared offices: Shared rented office spaces are gaining in popularity with the rise in remote work in Switzerland. These allow employees from different companies to work in the same communal office space, sharing in the cost of rent and equipment. They are often located in residential areas and are sometimes referred to as “neighborhood offices”.
  • Televillages: Televillages simply refer to specific residential areas where teleworking jobs and spaces, such as shared offices, are particularly abundant.

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Advantages and disadvantages of telework

Before deciding whether to implement a teleworking arrangement, you need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages for both the employer and employee:

Advantages for the employer

  • Employee satisfaction: Employees often find the teleworking model more satisfying, enjoyable, and less stressful than a traditional in-office job.
  • Employee motivation and retention: Satisfied employees tend to be more motivated and loyal to their employers, resulting in greater productivity and stability in the workplace.
  • Increased employee productivity: Telework often fosters a conducive environment for focused work, minimizing distractions inherent in traditional office settings and thereby further improving productivity.
  • Cost savings: Telework results in reduced overhead expenses associated with office space, utilities, and infrastructure.
  • Access to a broader talent pool: Telework enables employers to recruit top talent irrespective of geographical constraints. Employers offering telework are also more attractive on the labor market thus contributing to the attraction of talented employees.

Disadvantages for the employer

  • Difficult to monitor: Ensuring employee accountability and tracking their work progress can be more challenging in remote settings, and thus requires a high degree of trust.
  • Communication barriers: Maintaining effective communication channels and fostering team spirit may be more difficult when employees don’t work in close proximity to the employer or to one another.
  • Data protection issues: Teleworkers must also comply with data protection regulations. Enforcing these regulations as well as ensuring the protection of sensitive company documents could be more difficult in a remote work setting.

Advantages for the employee

  • Flexibility: Telework offers employees greater control over when and where they choose to work, facilitating better work-life balance.
  • Reduced commuting costs and stress: Eliminating daily commutes can lead to significant time and energy savings, as well as reduce transport costs for employees.
  • Improved job satisfaction: Remote work arrangements often contribute to higher job satisfaction levels and therefore increased motivation and retention.
  • Improved focus and performance: a company office environment can often be distracting. Working from a quiet home environment can often lend itself to a more focused atmosphere and help improve employees’ performance.

Disadvantages for the employee

  • Communication difficulties: even with all the advances in information technology, there is still no real replacement for being in the same physical office as your co-workers. Being able to quickly ask your colleague opposite you a question or have a quick impromptu meeting can all facilitate rapid and open communication. These aspects can be lacking when it comes to a telework environment.
  • Social isolation: in connection to the point above is the feeling of social isolation that some employees may suffer from in a teleworking environment. Social contact with fellow colleagues serves more than simply a practical function. It can make employees feel more connected and part of a team, and therefore help improve their sense of wellbeing and motivation to perform well.
  • Blurred lines: it is difficult to maintain a clear line between professional and private life when you don’t have a physical place of work to go to. This can actually make it more difficult to have a balanced private life outside of work and can often lead to unpaid overtime.

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Do employees have a legal right to telework?

In Switzerland, employees do not have an explicit legal right to telework. This means they cannot demand to work remotely whenever they please. It must either be contractually agreed upon at the outset or the employee must make a subsequent application with their employer to telework. The reverse is also true, in that employers don’t have a unilateral right to order their employees to work remotely without prior consultation and agreement.

While employees don’t have an automatic right to work remotely, employers are encouraged to consider telework arrangements as part of their duty to promote work-life balance and accommodate employees’ needs, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities or health concerns. It’s essential for employers to adhere to relevant labor laws and regulations when implementing telework policies to ensure fairness and compliance.

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Practical and legal considerations for employers

There are various practical and legal aspects for employers to consider when implementing telework structures:

  • Labor law requirements: Employers must ensure that telework arrangements comply with relevant labor laws and regulations in Switzerland, including those governing working hours, rest periods, and compensation. It’s essential to establish clear guidelines regarding teleworkers’ rights and responsibilities to maintain legal compliance and follow fair labor practices.
  • Data protection: Safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring compliance with data protection laws is vital in telework environments, where it can be more difficult to monitor employee behavior and ensure that confidential data is not freely accessible in their homes. Employers must implement adequate security measures to protect confidential information transmitted and stored remotely, such as encrypted communication channels and secure file storage solutions, while adhering to Switzerland’s stringent data protection regulations.
  • Home office equipment costs: Employers may need to consider providing or subsidizing essential home office equipment to ensure teleworkers have the necessary tools to perform their duties effectively. This may include computers, office furniture, and internet connectivity solutions. Clarifying responsibility for equipment maintenance and repair is also crucial to avoid potential disputes.
  • Communication tools: Facilitating seamless communication and collaboration among remote teams requires the selection and implementation of appropriate communication tools. Employers should invest in reliable software solutions for video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management to facilitate effective remote communication and streamline workflow processes.
  • Training and support: Offering comprehensive training and ongoing support is essential to help teleworkers navigate remote work challenges successfully. Employers should provide training sessions on remote work best practices, data security protocols, and effective communication strategies. Additionally, establishing channels for teleworkers to seek assistance and feedback fosters a supportive remote work culture and enhances productivity.

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Updated social insurance regulations applying to telework

The restrictions on movement during the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult for cross-border commuters to physically attend work in Switzerland. With remote work becoming more widespread as a result, agreements between Switzerland and the EU social security authorities relaxed social security laws and made it easier for remote workers.

As remote work has since become more commonplace, even after the pandemic, Switzerland signed a multilateral agreement with numerous EU/EFTA states to continue with the flexible application of the EU social security subordination rules and maintain social security regulations which make it easier for teleworkers residing in a foreign country.

The agreement stipulates that employees may perform up to 50% of their employment in the form of cross-border telework (i.e., a maximum of 49.9% of working hours) in their country of residence with the responsibility for social insurance remaining in the country where the employer is based (i.e., Switzerland). The employer must therefore still fulfil their share of social security contributions for these teleworkers performing their duties abroad.

A more detailed explanation of the social insurance for telework agreement can be found here.

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Introducing telework in your company?

While introducing telework as part of your company’s workflow offers many potential benefits, implementing effective telework arrangements can be challenging. Employers need to understand the various requirements and may need to restructure many of their existing systems, introduce numerous software and support solutions, and help guide their employees through the adjustment process.

At Nexova, we have the expertise to assist businesses in embracing remote work practices effectively. From developing customized telework policies to providing comprehensive legal guidance, we empower your company to harness the benefits of telework while mitigating the potential challenges.

Partner with Nexova today and take your first steps on a seamless telework journey tailored to your unique needs and objectives.

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