Teleworking Generalization: Thanks Covid!

March 17, 2021, the eyes of French citizens have sounded on their televisions, in the feverish anticipation of a decision that was largely mocked when it came to our European neighbors, that of strict confinement. Taking the Italian situation into account, the companies had prepared for it and each employee had arranged for his office to be moved to his home. Two years later, teleworking, which had been the exception until then, became a common practice as the French experience was crowned with success and despite the skepticism of many business leaders. In other words, without a health crisis, there is no telecommuting.

crash test

Despite the image of a grumbling people, the French never doubted the rhythm of a week consisting of five days face-to-face and a weekend. Only the attempt to democratize work on Sundays, reducing the number of non-working days to one, brought France to its feet. Practiced by barely 3% of workers before the health crisis, by 100% if our leaders are to be believed, telecommuting has been widely democratized with the health crisis, initially under duress and then more naturally, the lifting of restrictions. While the decision-makers patiently solved their problems in the careless prediction of a rapid return to normal, the success of telecommuting, employee involvement and the expansion of health restrictions have swept away the prospect of a revival of the world of ‘past’.

Despite recent developments, telecommuting is struggling to establish itself in France, as evidenced by the figures from Ifop, which estimates the average practice at around 0.9 days per week (since early 2021), compared to 1.8 days in Germany,1 9 in Italy, 1.4 in Spain and 1.6 in the UK. While France has long lagged behind its European neighbours, it has maintained this disparity since the end of the crisis, in particular due to a culture of tenacious presenteeism and a still lazy view of telecommuting. The fact remains that 90% of French people wanted to maintain a mix of face-to-face and distance learning according to an Upfeel study published in March 2022. 10% held in high regard and in charge, a unique sense of democracy.

Upstream of a downstream

In its third report on productivity and competitiveness, the National Productivity Council (CNP) evokes an effect of hysteresis on the use of telecommuting, with more than fromthe limitation, a potential, independent of the crisis context. The study adds: Paradoxically, unlike previous crises that led to a slowdown in trend productivity, the acceleration of telecommuting use could ultimately lead to lasting productivity gains. Teleworking and its widespread adoption also prevent an employee from going to the office in case of a cold and, through a snowball effect, not infect his entire company. Teleworking and its flexible expression, on the other hand, exempt you from taking half a day to accommodate your heating engineer for fifteen minutes during the week. Teleworking and its autonomous nature also tolerate abandoning the test of the metro. For the record and if we go back a few months, the prediction of a RATP strike shocked all of Ile-de-France, workers in Ile-de-France went out of their way to find carpool solutions to get to work. , even though the internet tool already met all the basic principles of remote working. That is, if we come back from afar. Improve business management, reduce absenteeism, increase employee productivity, reduce real estate costs, promote ecology. So much for the benefits. Don’t let your teams stand in front of you. So much for the negatives. Anything related to isolation, lack of recognition or demotivation defines the world of work, with few exceptions, and none of these elements has an irreparable dimension.

So it took a pandemic to question the primitive structure of a workweek, to shake the dusty rigor of the management French style. It remains to be seen what global catastrophe will be able to make the fantasy of the four-day week that some companies benefit from a reality?

Alban Castres

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