LUXEMBOURG-VILLE — Members of the local firefighters union 351 staged a protest at the Gëlle Fra monument in the city center on Tuesday to call attention to the fact that they are unfairly denied the opportunity to work from home — an opportunity routinely given to other professionals, particularly those who work in business.
“My neighbor who works in IT consulting spends half of his work days at home in his pajamas, sitting in front of a computer,” said one firefighter. “Why can’t we have the same rights?”
The work-from-home trend has been growing in the past decade, but to date has only been tested among office employees. GST Savings and Loan was one of the first to allow employees to work from home and was reluctant to do so, explains Max Prum, head of Human Resources.
“We were afraid our employees would be binge-watching Netflix series, scrolling through Facebook, and watching YouTube videos rather than actually being productive,” Prum said. “But we realized our fears were unfounded, since employees here in the building are engaged in exactly the same type of activities.”
“The upside is that we save on utilities and it makes finding available parking and toilets easier, for both employees in-office and at-home,” he added.
The reduction in traffic is also a plus, explains the city’s Traffic Flow Coordinator, Jean Bouchon.
“Looking at the impact of people working from home, we’ve seen a .02 percent reduction in the number of cars on the road during the daily peak intervals,” Bouchon said. “This gives us hope that as the trend continues, more commuters will be able to get to their workplace within two hours of leaving home, even if they work in the city center and live as far away as Strassen.”
The firemen were joined by dozens of security guards, dentists, and heart surgeons who attended in a show of solidarity. Many argued that working from home doesn’t necessarily have to involve working — in the narrowest sense of the word.
“We could watch training videos or work out,” suggested Les Patrick, a security guard at a local shopping center.
“Or practice crawling on the floor from the sofa to the fridge, navigating our way by feeling along the walls,” added Sven Polard of the Bridal fire brigade.