Keeping up business activity while abiding by the health and safety measures established by the health authorities has been and continues to be our objective during the current pandemic.
The circumstances of the health crisis have demanded that we work from home, but without giving time to plan it. Many home offices have had to be set up on the fly. This has had a direct impact on the arrangement of our houses, since it has highlighted the inefficiency and insufficiency of the spaces drafted into use for telework.
Forced telework without prior planning has made its shortcomings manifest. It is not just about using digital technologies, it has meant changes in our daily lives and has required the adaptation of the many resources we use in our work every day.
Among all the challenges in these difficult circumstances, teleworking presented itself as a problem and the result has been a success, so it is possible that this phenomenon will grow and be implemented in more companies as soon as the situation normalizes.
Another point is that this way of working has long been shown to be effective in many countries, so it will likely become a key factor in employability.
Teleworking, supporting autonomy
Teleworking provides greater spatial and temporal flexibility. The power of digitalization has expanded the possibilities for remote work. Elements such as the cloud, which are virtually shared databases, or virtual communication technologies, among others, facilitate remote work.
In the course of the pandemic and the quarantine, jobs that require the highest qualifications have proven the advantages of teleworking. Going remote allows people to organize their own time, it saves money in part because there is no commuting, and it also facilitates work-life balance and family time. And now that the confinement stage is over, there is no need to work locked up at home, there is the additional possibility of turning libraries and other spaces into a new office.
Telematics and face to face: a new way of working
Quarantine has served as a catalyst by making teleworking the new norm: it has achieved in two months what would have taken about five years.
Technological advances increasing visible in our day to day life like digitalization, fiber optics, online government, etc., have contributed to making working remotely a reality.
But not all work has to happen remotely: the combined mode is possible. Blending face-to-face work with remote work by time slots during the same day or working remotely for a couple of days a week are options that have gained followers in recent months.
The Workers’ Statute in Spain barely considers remote work at all; it only appears in relation to work-life balance regarding family care. That is why we need a legislative framework to regulate it and not to limit it only to drastic situations such as the “state of alarm.”
In Spain, the percentage of workers who work from home until recently was quite low (less than 5% in the 2019 Labor Force Survey prepared by the INE). In other European countries, the figure exceeds 10%, but nowhere does it reach 20%. Those most likely to work remotely are people who live with their families and have children or other dependents.
Although the hybrid model sounds good because of its theoretical advantages, it is not really so simple. In the end, despite intentions, it can give rise to two classes of workers: one group that is always in the office and another that is always at home.
Therefore, in order to ensure that the model really is hybrid, rotating between work at the office and work at home, it is necessary to rethink the design of our offices. One advantage is that the company can save on office and infrastructure costs, and the air in our cities will appreciate the reduced pollution due to the decrease in commuting.