Thinking about working from home in the Netherlands? Why not?! There’s nothing more ideal than snuggling up with a house-made coffee, turning on your laptop, and working like a boss in your underwear (it’s okay, we won’t tell!).
Luckily, if you’re in the Netherlands you’re well-placed to work from home. In fact, 1.2 million Dutchies did just that in 2019. Dutch employers are generally used to people working from home, or in the office, or mixing it up. Plus, working from home is better for the environment, cuts down your commute, and lets you get some extra laundry done.
So how did the Netherlands gain such a great reputation for working from home? Is the future of working from home in the Netherlands at risk? And how can you get in the work from home game — while still impressing your boss?
We’ve compiled all the information about working from home in the Netherlands in one place — and wrote this guide while in our pyjamas. Let’s get cracking!
Let op! This is a general article about working from home in the Netherlands. But if you’re working at home due to the coronavirus outbreak, there’s plenty of great information in here for you too!
Working from home in the Netherlands is common
Really common. In fact, the Netherlands had the highest percentage of people who work from home in Europe in 2018. Around 13.7% of Dutch people worked from home, beating out Luxembourg (12.7%) and Finland (12.3%). To put that into perspective, the European average was only a miserable five percent.
The pandemic changed those numbers a bit with the EU average going up to 12% in 2020 and Finland taking first place as the ultimate work from home country.
Whether or not those changes will stick, statistics show that the number of Dutch remote workers is steadily on the rise. Even before coronavirus hit the country the number of remote workers had increased by half a million from 2013 to 2019.
Despite the excellent Dutch public transport system, many Dutchies choose to work at home to cut their travel time. In some places in the Randstad (like Amsterdam, Utrecht, the Gooi, and Vecchstreek) almost half of the workforce work from home at least sometimes, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
So why do so many Dutch people work from home? Well, it might have something to do with their number one ranking on the Remote Workers Index. The index judges countries on the number of coworking spaces available, the price of coffee, number of WiFi spots, happiness index score, etc. All these things contribute to the accessibility and happiness of remote workers.
You may have a legal right to work from home
The Flexible Working Act in the Netherlands has been in force since January 1, 2016. While this act covered a range of employment conditions, one of the main outcomes affected remote working.
The Act stated that after an employee has been working for more than 26 weeks, they can request that their place of work or working hours can be adjusted. The employer can only deny the request if they have a good reason.
The Netherlands is relatively progressive in this arrangement. But, companies may not always be in favour. Computer giant IBM became this first multinational this century to encourage its workers to work from home. Ever since, the company has had 21 quarters of falling profits, and ordered thousands of employees to return to the office “or else leave the company.” They’re not alone: Yahoo, Honeywell, and Bank of America also brought their employees back to the office.
Is working from home all it’s cracked up to be?
It sounds like a dream, right? No commute time, no office clothing, and the ability to ignore annoying colleagues if they message you. Yep, working from home sounds great — and it will definitely make you more productive, right?
But in reality, working from home can dramatically affect your productivity. In the US, the benefits of working from home have been called “the big lie.”
Despite employees promising their bosses (and themselves) that they’ll be up early, tapping away on their computer at their kitchen table, and ignoring their dog’s ball laying at their feet, that’s not always what happens. A Dutch study from 2018 found that employees simply have too little self-discipline. They are often distracted at home by laundry or catching up on the latest episode of The Bachelor.
Working from home sometimes doesn’t only have negative effects on your work life — but your home life too. The same study found that combining work and family can make you more exhausted, leading to more arguments at home.
Succeeding at working from home in the Netherlands
Determined to nail the Dutch work-life balance and thrive in your home office? Here are our tips.
Get into a routine
Sometimes it’s a little hard to separate home-life from work-life — and it’s easy to lose focus on work and instead revert to doing chores. But of course, it’s hard to concentrate if you’re constantly getting distracted.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have a boss coming and monitoring your screen every now and then, so it’s easy to let your mind wander and scour Pinterest for dinner ideas or browse through DutchReview for the latest and the greatest stories.
It helps to wake up at a certain time in the morning and set hours for yourself when you’re going to work. Decide when your lunch break will be, if you’ll have a designated time to do chores, and how you will make up that work time later in the day. And, remember not to lounge around in your pyjamas: getting dressed, brushing your teeth and wearing proper clothes can make a big difference to how productive you feel.
Don’t isolate yourself completely
Although the idea of working from home is pretty appealing, keep in mind that human beings were made for social interaction — that’s why some people prefer to work in an office.
Physical contact was found to lead to better ideas, communication and decision-making. In which case, it might be nice to have a balance between working from home and working in an office. If you’re looking for the perfect mid-point, keep reading!
Don’t be afraid to work outside of home
Working from home doesn’t have to be taken literally — especially as Dutch houses and apartments can be notoriously small. Get out in the world and check out some coworking spaces if you need a bit more of a routine.
Fortunately, because working from home in the Netherlands is so widespread there are plenty of coworking spaces available. While the majority of them are paid, some municipalities also fund some that are completely free.
Coworking spaces offer a great opportunity to network, have a great working space, and often have ultra-fast internet and complimentary tea and coffee. Check out coworker.com to find one near you.
Or, if you’re feeling a little extra, there are plenty of super gezellig cafés in each Dutch city that you can work from.
Let op! Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Dutch government recommends working from home (not coworking spaces or cafés) in order to contain the spread. Stay at home and wash your hands.
Good wi-fi is key
If you’re working from home, you’ll likely be communicating frequently with your company or organisation. It’s absolutely essential to have fast WiFi. Added bonus? Ultra-fast streaming for when the workday is over!
Make sure everyone is on the same page
If you are making the shift to working from home make sure you are upfront and clear with your bosses about what is expected. Do you need to keep working your normal hours, or can you be flexible and work in the evening? Do you need to be available for calls? Can you work from another country? Do you need to ever show up to the office? How will your success be measured in the future?
Remote working relies on mutual trust to be effective. Discuss the ‘what’ and ‘how’ with your boss and talk about whether you need to come to an agreement in writing.
Know when to call it quits
Working from home isn’t for everyone — and few people find it to be a natural and easy adaptation. Give yourself some time to settle in and focus on making it work. But, sometimes it doesn’t work out. Think about how long you’ll try it out for, and when you may think about returning to the office. It doesn’t mean you failed — it just means you tried.
What do you think are the benefits of working at home? Tell us in the comments!
Feature Image: Polina Zimmermanm/Pexels
This article was co-authored by Vedika Luthra and Samantha Dixon
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2020, and was fully updated in November 2021 for your reading pleasure.