At the dawn of the massive return of cross-border workers to the workplace, employees of several Luxembourgish financial sector companies are expressing concerns about a lack of space in offices, some of which have been reduced during the health crisis. Moving, subletting floors, selling buildings...Several Luxembourgish companies saw the health crisis as an opportunity to optimize their office space, opting to reduce the number of seats. However, in a country that heavily depends on cross-border workers subject to strict rules regarding teleworking, the equation can quickly become perilous.

Unions are demanding 55 days of teleworking for all:

This Friday, July 1, marks the end of unlimited teleworking for French, Belgian, and German commuters. Many of them have hardly, if ever, set foot in the office since the start of the health crisis. Beyond the simple fear of returning to their workplace daily, also known as office-phobia, another fear resonates in the minds of several cross-border workers and residents: will there be enough space for everyone?

"If I take the example of my open space, we have twelve desks for 20 employees. In my company, everyone is saying that there won't be enough space if everyone had to come back 100%," says Marie*, an employee in a financial sector company. However, this will not be the case, as the company has asked its employees to telework for a maximum of half of the week for residents and according to the quotas in force for cross-border workers.

"Everyone knew it":

The situation, however, raises fears of an unequal situation between residents and cross-border workers. "Naturally, if we encounter real space problems, it will be the residents who stay at home, to the detriment of cross-border workers," continues Marie, who believes that individual desks are likely to be reduced or even eliminated to expand open spaces.

In this company, space problems date back not to the Covid crisis, but have been accentuated by it. "Everyone knew it, but nobody had really asked the question with the multiple extensions of the agreements." However, the situation has already been observed recently in teams where many simultaneous recruitments were taking place. "New employees must be in the office, as well as their trainers. With this situation, there have already been space problems in certain open spaces," says the employee.

A problem also encountered by Moritz*. Employed in another company, the cross-border worker does not hide his anxieties about the lack of individual desks in his workplace. "We suspected it for a little while, because we could see that the number of places had been reduced during the crisis, while the number of employees remained unchanged," says the worker active in the finance industry.