Coronavirus, opportunity to launch teleworking?

The Covid-19 is generating, like a butterfly effect, a trail of victims and negative consequences in many economic sectors that exceed the purely sanitary. However, looking at the reverse side of the coin, it can be said that some of the measures it is causing can serve as a huge testing laboratory. And when I say this I am thinking, for example, of the recommendation by governments throughout the world to work from home to prevent contagion. Having millions of employees carry out their tasks at a distance will be a magnificent experiment for analysing on a large scale the pros and cons of this mode of working, which is increasingly supported but which, of course, also has its detractors.

In Spain, only around 8% of employees practice teleworking, although it is a modality preferred by 69%, both figures according to data provided by temporary work agencies, which also point out that the age group that most requests it is those between 25 and 45 years old, that is, generation X and millennials, followed by those under 25. These are therefore the youngest groups in the world of work. However, according to the survey, even the support of the working generations who are least committed to this form of work is well over 50%.

But nowadays, talking about teleworking does not go far enough. The most innovative companies in managing their human resources go one step further. Thus, trends such as the so-called Smart Working, with origins in the Anglo-Saxon world, which is much more than simply working from home, are being put into practice. It can be said that it is almost a philosophy of human resources management that seeks to obtain the highest performance by making available to workers all the tools available to the company. It should be pointed out that, from the technical point of view, what allows this to be put into practice are the technological advances, which facilitate work activity not only from the living room, but from any place where, to give an example, inspiration arrives (public transport, cafeterias, etc). While, from the perspective of labour relations, in order for it to work, there must undoubtedly be a real and true will on the part of the company, as well as full confidence in its human team. And, of course, the serious commitment of the latter.

From my experience, I can say that the organization of human capital is evolving more and more towards the search for well-being, for quality of life, and all those companies that want to attract and maintain the best talent must offer flexible work programs, which favor the conciliation of schedules with family life, adapting to the different needs, but also with training, sports, self-care and leisure activities. However, it must be clear that employees who join this type of scheme must do so on a completely voluntary basis, as there are companies in which up to four generations live together, with their respective life spans, and distance working cannot be imposed on those who prefer to come to the office.

Having said that, my opinion is that the ideal is to opt for mixed models, in which some days you work from a distance and others you go to the workplace, always in a flexible way to combine people’s preferences with the needs of the projects. This option favours integration into teams better than working continuously from a distance, generates more commitment and avoids the feeling of disconnection that occurs in pure telework models. The correct functioning requires, especially in large companies, that there is always perfect supervision by the team that manages the conciliation within the company’s Human Resources team.

If everything explained above is implemented correctly, our experience is that it favours co-responsibility at home and in childcare, reduces stress levels, favours a good working environment, the happiness and commitment of employees, as well as increasing productivity and, therefore, benefits the company’s business. Because, in short, the focus is on performance rather than on attendance. We will have to see if the analysis of the forced experience of teleworking caused by the coronavirus adds more benefits, or damages, to those that we are already seeing who have been practicing it for years.

This tribune has been published in RRHH Digital. Access through this link

Alicia Sánchez  
Human Resources Manager at Altran Spain