Thursday, 09 December 2021

Teleworking will show its real face from autumn: control of the pandemic will force companies to clarify their long-term plans

As the smoke from the pandemic clears, we begin to see the true face of telecommuting. During the health emergency we have attended to cross information, often conflicting, which has sowed confusion: on the one hand, the public statements of companies and workers invited us to think that remote work had taken hold and was going to spread widely, on the other, Various reports and surveys pointed to the opposite and found that managers trusted more in person presence and that many employees missed going to the office, at least a few days a week.

In this time, in addition, companies have been alternating between one option or another depending on the epidemiological circumstances, which has only contributed to the chaos. If coronavirus cases rose, there was no choice but to telecommute, and as they decreased, many began to set dates to return to their offices, some with options to work remotely, others not. But now, with the advance of vaccination, the situation is stabilizing and the time has come for companies to decide how they are going to organize their workforce in the long term.

Both the experts consulted by Xataka and the unions consider that companies in Spain will have to decide the labor model that they are going to adopt in the long term during next autumn, and they believe that the majority option will be that of hybrid work where presence prevails over the teleworking. That is, models similar to those that multinationals such as Google or Apple have already established.

Those of Mountain View, California, announced that they are going to limit the number of employees who can work remotely, which, in addition, will cut their salary, and will force workers who choose to go to the office three days a week a hybrid model. Those of Cupertino, Washington, for their part, have maintained an open conflict since the beginning of the summer with their employees on account of the hybrid work model they have developed, which is very strict and which forces workers to go to the office for three fixed days at the week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

In Spain, there are still few companies that have announced their long-term work models after the pandemic. Most simply say that they are studying the best way to approach a hybrid work plan, but prefer not to provide information for the moment. Some, like Singular, have communicated that they will allow their entire staff to choose where they want to work at all times. And many others, especially those that are not related to the technology sector, have asked their professionals to return to their offices without teleworking options.

Office first

Although there are still few companies that have spoken out about their long-term plans in Spain, several sources in the human resources sector in our country have indicated to Engadget that a significant number of them are determined to opt for models of office first as the pandemic stabilizes, with a day or two of telecommuting at the most.

Information that coincides with the estimates of the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) and the General Union of Workers (UGT), whose representatives explained to Servimedia that the data they handle indicates that there will be a gradual return to the office starting in September, and indicate This is because our country is not inclined to adopt remote models because our business culture is based on face-to-faceism.

However, union representatives also indicated that it is not only a matter of preferences but also of resources. In order to implement a teleworking model, equipment and software are needed to work remotely and coordinate distributed teams, and many companies, especially SMEs, do not have the financial capacity to face the financial outlay of switching to a hybrid model.

Flexibility yes, full remote no

Regardless of the decision made by each company, an important part of the professionals does not seem to believe that they are going to work completely remotely after a year and a half of a health emergency. According to a recent investigation by the US bank Morgan Stanley, more than half of the remote workers surveyed - from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, 2,500 in each country - think they will return to the office, at least some Days of the week. That same study indicates that these workers prefer a hybrid work model in which some office days are combined with other telework days.

Another study, in this case by the consulting firm Capgemini and with international data, indicated at the end of 2020 that only 18% of those surveyed believed that they would work at home more than three days a week in the coming years, and a report by Wakefield Research, also international, points out that 90% of professionals miss some aspect of their workplace.

Many employees, therefore, do not seem convinced that the full remote model is going to prevail, but they do believe that the flexibility to choose some days of work at home will be extended. Companies, for their part, seem willing to grant them, but it remains to be seen whether they will let them choose them or unilaterally establish office hours, as Apple has done.



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