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Will remote working become the norm in Spain after the Covid-19 pandemic?

The number of job vacancies in Spain which involve working from home has risen by more than 200 percent, with experts suggesting it’s a “structural change that’s here to stay”. But will Spain really become a nation of remote workers after Covid?

Will remote working become the norm in Spain after the Covid-19 pandemic?
Stock photo: Peggy Anke/Unsplash

From May 2020 to April 2021, the number of jobs advertised online in Spain which included the option of remote working increased by 214 percent, according to the latest study by Adecco, “Remote Work in Western Europe”. 

“People want to work remotely and companies are responding to this demand by making remote work opportunities clear in their job offers,” Adecco reported.

The trend was particularly marked in central and western areas of Spain, but all fifty provinces except Soria have recorded an increase in this kind of job listings. 

The jobs which have seen the biggest rise in remote work offers are call centre positions, in accounting, admin, real estate and various IT roles.  

The study – which analysed data for Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Italy – found that the increase in offers was more pronounced in Spain than the average rise in Western Europe of 126 percent, although France recorded the biggest hike in teleworking offers with a 463 percent increase.

“The pandemic has accelerated a change that was already in force,” Adecco contended based on the fact that remote working vacancies were already on the rise in 2019.

Are Spanish employers really looking to employ remote workers?

As a result of the full lockdown in March 2020, the total number of people in Spain who worked at least occasionally from home doubled, exceeding 3.5 million people.

That represented around 16 percent of Spain’s working population, but Adecco estimates that approximately 36 percent of jobs on the market could be carried out entirely remotely. 

In the second term of 2021, around 9.4 percent of employed people in Spain (1.8 million people) worked from home at least half of their weekly work hours.

Fluctuations aside, one important stat to keep in mind is that despite the big rise in Spanish job vacancies offering remote working options, they still only represent 0.3 percent of the total. 

On average across Western Europe, jobs involving work from home account for 12 percent of total vacancies, so Spain still has a very long way to go. 

According to Javier Blasco, director of Spain’s Adecco Group Institute, the difference lies in the fact that the productive fabric of other countries is much more geared towards teleworking and, compared to very advanced economies centred around telecommunications or banking, Spain’s economy is mainly service based.

“The Spanish economy is very much based on the face-to-face model and in recent months the sectors that have grown the most in employment are education, health, transport … there are few possibilities of working from home,” Blasco told El País.

“It’s not better or worse, it’s simply that in Spain there is a very strong face-to-face work culture”.

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Nevertheless, the world’s second largest Human Resources provider reports that Spain’s remote working trend will continue growing, concluding that “it’s a structural change that is here to stay”.

The fact that in September 2020 the Spanish government began to regulate by law remote working practices is a positive sign that what was once an uncommon job scenario is now widely accepted and protected. 

Eased Covid restrictions and Spain’s advanced vaccination campaign have already meant that many employers have asked workers to return to their workplaces at least part-time over the course of 2021.

But the real test will come in September by which stage Spain will have reached its initial herd immunity target of 70 percent and the so-called “return to normality” will become more of a reality. 

There are arguments for and against remote working both in Spain and abroad, from the possibility of repopulating empty Spain with remote workers and increasing productivity by slashing long coffee and lunch breaks, to those who say a lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues is unhealthy and not as useful for young workers.

From the point of view of our international readership, flexible work options are what often allows many of them to find the work-life balance they were after in Spain and to be able to visit their home countries more easily and frequently.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.

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