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Navigating the New Working Time Directive ‘EU Travel to Work’

Dec 5 • Features, Management • 1753 Views • No Comments on Navigating the New Working Time Directive ‘EU Travel to Work’

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Marina Stedman, Director of Global Field Marketing for ClickSoftware takes a look at the recent new EU legislation and what it means for field service organisations operating within the region…

After an employee court case in September 2015, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled[i] that time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time.

This is because the workers are at the employer’s disposal for the time of the journeys, are acting under their employer’s instructions and cannot use that time freely to pursue their own interests. This obviously has huge implications from a field service perspective, especially related to the number of hours that can be worked and on rest time which are both part of the Working Time Directive (WTD). While some vagueness remains around the changes, they are expected to be implemented by 2019.

To help our customers navigate the new legislation, we knew needed to get under the skin of the incoming changes, so we decided to survey over 300 senior business leaders across Europe to see what they thought.

WTD and what it means for business 

Our ‘EU Travel to Work’ Research conducted with Bilendi (one of the top digital service providers for the market research industry in Europe) found that over a third (36%) of UK businesses will not be ready when the latest WTD regulation comes into force. France followed closely, with 48% of respondents claiming they will not be completely ready.

Additionally, more than one in 10 companies are not actually aware of the ruling. Just Germany (69%) and Italy (72%) are confident they will be completely ready.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that businesses expect the new ruling to have a significant impact; 60% plan to change the way they operate. So what does this mean from a field service perspective?

We found that nearly seven in ten (68%) businesses will or may have to change the way they schedule resources in the field.

In real terms this means:

  • Thirty percent will need to cut the number of jobs that any field service engineer can complete in one day and expect to pay staff more for overtime
  • Nearly one in five companies (19%) will need to hire more employees to complete field based work – this is highest in Italy (39%) and Germany (41%)
  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) will need to implement new systems and tools to manage the new rules

Understandably, cost is highlighted as the biggest concern around the new law, according to 29% of respondents. Awareness and understanding will also impact compliance with one in five businesses (19%) concerned about unknowingly breaking the rules.

Transforming lives in the field

What will these changes mean for field service workers?

The new WTD ruling is expected to positively impact the lives of workers in the field. Three in 10 businesses (30%) anticipate having to reduce the number of jobs a field service employee can do in a day. At the same time, the same level of employers are bracing themselves to have to pay more overtime to these employees to factor in the cost of travel. How will businesses cope with this change? Just under one in five (19%) businesses expect to take on more staff to be able to cope with the demand for field based work at its current level.

By their very nature, most field service workers are mobile, with many starting and finishing their working day from home, rather than a fixed office, with travel time taking up a large part of their working day.

The challenge for organisations who have field workers will be introducing systems and processes that balance their commitment to employee well-being in terms of mandatory breaks and rest periods during a now extended working day and week, with cost and productivity within the rules that have been set.

Containing the cost of service delivery without sacrificing quality will be critical for service-centric businesses. By their very nature, most field service workers are mobile, with many starting and finishing their working day from home, rather than a fixed office, with travel time taking up a large part of their working day.

At ClickSoftware we’ll be working with customers to help them adapt existing practices to ensure they continue to operate in multiple countries across Europe, competitively and sustainably.

An opportunity for innovation?

The majority of European business leaders (75%) think that the new law is set to benefit field service staff.

25% of companies in the manufacturing industry, 20% in utilities and 15% in telecommunications said that their current systems and processes would not be able to manage

Already, we’ve seen how digital connectedness and smart mobile devices have transformed the industry. WTD could in fact accelerate adoption of these new enabling technologies as field service companies across Europe look at new ways of improving employee productivity and efficiency out in the field, while remaining compliant. Indeed, our report shows nearly half of our respondents (47%) will need to implement new systems and tools when the latest WTD regulation comes into effect.

In terms of top concerns from an industry perspective, 25% of companies in the manufacturing industry, 20% in utilities and 15% in telecommunications said that their current systems and processes would not be able to manage. In addition, half of manufacturers, 31% of utility suppliers and 33% of telecommunications providers put this in their top two concerns.

It is clear from the research that the majority of European companies that employ field service staff who work from home are going to have to make changes to their business processes and their systems regardless of which country of industry sector they are in.

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