Readers reveal: ‘Remote working in Spain has been a bittersweet experience’

Before the pandemic, remote working was a relatively uncommon practice in Spanish companies. We spoke to locals and foreigners in Spain about the issues they’ve come up against, what the main positives are, and whether they believe 'el teletrabajo' will become a permanent option here in the future.

Readers reveal: 'Remote working in Spain has been a bittersweet experience'
Photo: Loic VENANCE / AFP

Most people in Spain have done some type of remote working over the past two years, and although many have returned to their offices at some point between coronavirus waves, the Omicron variant has ensured that millions have gone back to working from home. 

When Spain first locked down in March of 2020, many people across the country experienced for the first time what it meant to work remotely.

Both companies and employees were not prepared for the sudden change and many issues and problems came up, as well as a whole host of positive benefits.

But two years on, how have things changed? Have many of the initial issues been sorted out and will people continue remote working in the future?

Before the pandemic, some readers reported that their companies were saying that they were getting ready so that remote working could become a possibility in the future, but when it came down to it, it turned out that they weren’t as ready as they thought they were.

“Remote working has been a bittersweet experience for me,” explains Sergio Molina, who has been working from home for a medical equipment company since the start of the pandemic and continues to do so.

“Although there have been lots of issues, overall for me it has been a positive experience, because it has allowed me to move from Barcelona to Córdoba and be with my partner, and I would have not been able to do this before”, he told The Local Spain.

Magdalena Bialek who works for in Barcelona also had a similar experience working from home for the past two years.

“At the beginning, it was really hard, mostly due to missing working with colleagues and constant technical issues as we didn’t have a proper system in place.

“Remote working wasn’t something my company did before. I really had to adjust to separating work and personal life as I was always in the same room,” Bialek explained.

“Now I’ve adjusted, I’m really enjoying working from home as well as the time I’m saving by not travelling to and from work. It gives me extra time in the day to do things I like,” she added.

Offices have been adapted over the years to create the best working conditions for employees and most homes have not been designed with this in mind. Many people in Spain, in particular, have cited lack of space and designated work areas to be one of the main issues they’ve faced.

“Many of us didn’t have desks or the correct chairs to sit in for hours a day and many of our homes were not suited to spending so much time in,” says Regina Tanker, who works in Andalusia.

“I am lucky that my company has adapted well and has now provided us with proper work chairs,” she says.

Balancing work and personal space when working remotely. Image: Junjira Konsang / Pixabay

What other problems have remote workers in Spain faced over the past two years?

Several people working remotely for Spanish companies however have told The Local Spain their experiences of remote working have not been positive overall, despite the benefits of not having to commute.

They cite many avoidable issues, from not being provided with computers and having to use their own, to clients calling and e-mailing at all hours of the day and employees being expected to be ‘on the clock’ all the time.

The remote work law the Spanish government passed in September 2020 has become a bit of stumbling block for many companies that have argued they can’t take on the extra costs of materials or extra flexibility for all their employees.

By contrast, other businesses have reaped the financial benefits of not having to rent an office and a study by Spanish corporate social responsibility firm Alares found that 49 percent of companies reported an increase in productivity.

Unfortunately, this has sometimes been at the employee’s expense.

For example, most remote workers are not being paid anything for electricity or other bills and items that they would not normally have to pay for at work.

But is the increase in productivity down to the fact that employees feel less stressed at home and they’re not having to travel, or is it because they’re putting more hours in?

“At my company, many of us seem to be working a lot of extra hours,” Molina told The Local.

“Because we have our computers and phones with us all the time, clients can call us at any hour and we’re expected to answer. They also know that if someone sends an e-mail we will be there to answer it, even at 8pm at night”.

Many have seen the progress over the last two years however, and believe that the majority of these issues can be overcome with better planning and systems in place for the future. 

The future of remote working Spain

So what do our readers think of the future of remote working in Spain? Many seem to think that there will be a more permanent shift and that this is something that is here to stay, although they don’t believe they will be working from home full time when the pandemic is over.

“I think in the future there might be a mix of working from home and going into the office, or indeed remote working. In fact, lots of my friends have told me that their companies have offered permanent remote positions,” says Molina.

“Our company has a clear plan on when the return to the office will happen and we’re constantly updated on it,” Bialek adds.

“When the pandemic is over, working back in the office may be on a voluntary basis. Those who do want to go back will not have to go back full-time and will be allowed to work from home a couple of days a week. This will be an ideal solution for me”.

Indeed, this is one of the main benefits of remote working that everyone agrees on – more time, whether that’s for hobbies, enjoying afternoons with family and friends, or being able to take the kids to school without having to pay extra for childcare.

However, the mass return of workers to their offices back in September and October 2021 whe infection rates were lower suggest that once the prevalence of the Omicron variant isn’t as widespread as it is now, employers will again expect their staff to return to their workplaces, at least part of the time.  


Member comments

  1. Great article, and not much different than the sentiments for remote workers in the US. I have to admit though, I got excited by the title that this article alluded to remote workers, meaning from other countries working in Spain for foreign companies with no office presence in Spain. There are many of us in the US, myself included that have the flexibility to work remotely for our employers in foreign companies like in the US but due to visa restrictions we cannot work remotely in Spain. I understand that they want people paying into the tax system and that’s fine, I don’t believe anyone is trying to commit tax fraud but currently there is no provision for a visa de larga duracion to allow you to work for a remote company and pay into the system. It boggles my mind this thinking that they have not modified the visa process in today’s digital age as they are missing out on revenue for the government from hundreds or thousands of expats that have good incomes that can be creating job demand, spending, and paying income tax without taking Spanish jobs. Not to mention more home purchases or construction.

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For members


How to understand your payslip in Spain

If you’re an employee for a company in Spain, each month you should receive a payslip from your employer, detailing how much you earn, deductions and plenty more. Here's how to read and understand your Spanish payslip properly.

How to understand your payslip in Spain

It can sometimes be confusing working for a company in another country. Even if you work in English, your payslip, or nómina as it’s called here, can be hard to understand.  

According to the salary platform EMT, more than 50 percent of people in Spain don’t know how to read everything on their payslip and don’t fully understand all the numbers on there.

It’s important to be able to understand everything about the amount you’re getting paid and what’s being deducted from that amount each month so that you can stay on top of your finances. Read on for our handy guide to help you out. 

There are essentially three sections to your payslip, which include the header, the middle section detailing your earnings and deductions and the footer, where you’ll see the rates applied for your calculations.

Here’s an example of what a nómina or Spanish payslip usually looks like. 


According to Spanish law, each payslip must have a header that identifies both the worker and the company. It should include:

Information about the company
Name of the company
Registered office of the company
Tax Identification Code (NIF)
Social Security Registration number

Information about you (the employee)
Full name
Your DNI, NIE or TIE
Your social security number
Position with the company
Professional group
Seniority level
Date you started working for the company

Middle section 

Settlement period or Periodo de liquidación
A payslip is in fact similar to an invoice, so it should include a settlement period where it states the number of days worked for the payment being received. This is typically one month or 30 working days.

Revenues and expenses/accruals or Devengos
The revenues and expenses part of your payslip will state the gross amount of income that you have earned for a particular period worked. It will include your base salary, as well as bonuses and extra non-salary payments that are not taxed as part of your salary. These include compensation or payments for redundancy and must not exceed 30 percent of your salary payments.

Base salary or Salario base
Your base salary is the minimum amount you get each month. This will be at least €1,000 which is the minimum wage or SMI set for 2022, if you are working a full day of at least 40 hours per week.

This section will also include:

Supplements or Plus Convenio
This will detail any extra amounts received in relation to your work, such as extra shifts covered, working overtime and payments for extra training.

Extraordinary bonuses or Gratificaciones extraordinarias
If you work in sales, you may regularly get bonuses, but you may also get extra ones at Christmas for example. You may actually receive 14 payments but will receive them 12 times a year or once per month.

This part refers to extra payments to which income tax can be applied such as payments for private medical insurance, petrol for a company car or restaurant coupons to use when you’re working away.

This refers the expenses you have incurred in order to carry out your job. It could be the cost of material or transportation if these have previously been agreed upon with your employer.

Social security and benefits or Prestaciones e indemnizaciones de la Seguridad Social
There may also be added benefits for suspensions or dismissals, as well as expenses assumed by the company, such as disability or unemployment benefits.

At the end of all of this, with everything added together, you will see your total gross salary. It’s important to remember though that this isn’t the amount you will get in your bank account each month as there will be several deductions to take into account first.

Deductions or Deducciones

This section of your payslip includes all amounts taken away from your total gross salary in relation to income tax and social security payments. These will include:

Social security or Seguridad Social

Your social security covers for healthcare, sick pay, accidents at work, maternity or paternity pay or temporary disability, and although your employer pays this, you will be responsible for paying 4.70 percent, which will be taken away from your total.

Unemployment or Desempleo
This is the amount that will cover you for potential unemployment or redundancy should the situation arise and varies according to the type of contract you have. It could be anything from 1.55 percent for a fixed-term contract to 1.60 percent for a full-time contract.

Overtime due to force majeure or Horas extraordinarias por fuerza mayor
This will include any extra hours that you worked involuntarily.

Overtime without force majeure or Horas extraordinarias sin fuerza mayor
These are the extra hours you worked voluntarily and can incur withholdings up to 4.7 percent.

Personal income tax or Impuesto sobre la renta de la personas físicas

Your income tax or IRPF will also be taken away from your total gross salary before it appears in your bank account. The percentage that you are charged will vary depending on how much you earn as well as your personal situation, your family (including if you’re married and have children) and the type of contract you have.

Salary advances or Salario Anticipo
If you are allowed to get any advances on your salary, this will also be reflected in your payslip and deducted here.

Value of products you received
This refers to the products and services you may get from your company received as wages, which are also subject to income tax.  

Other deductions
Other deductions on your income tax may include union payments or loan repayments for example.

After all of this is calculated, you will be able to know the actual amount that you should finally receive. If you need to question anything, you can refer to the footer section, which will state the specific rates applied for your calculations