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El teletrabajo es la nueva normalidad - parte 3: el post-COVID traerá un nuevo equilibrio sobre dónde trabajamos (casa y oficina)

As homeworking became the norm over the past 5 months, there is reason to believe that the attitude towards ‘where work can and/or should happen’ has changed drastically. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the flexibility of both employers and employees on the one hand, and the validity of homeworking as a serious and beneficial concept on the other. Will this trend continue? Or do we return to the old ‘work is a place’ axiom? As the title of this blog post suggest, we believe a new equilibrium is in the making, with working remotely gaining a lot more ground.

La iluminación del teletrabajo

The actual perception on working from home

In two recent polls we held on our social media channels, 124 people responded as follows to the question about their future workplaces:

"Después de la pandemia, ¿crees que trabajarás más a menudo desde casa/en remoto?"

Sí, en la medida de lo posible
Sí, más que antes
No, una cantidad igual o menor

Si se pregunta a nuestro público, ¡ir a la oficina se convierte en una reliquia del pasado! Por supuesto, somos conscientes de que los seguidores de Awingu muestran a priori un gran interés por el concepto de lugar de trabajo digital y en cualquier lugar. Sin embargo, otros estudios confirman que los trabajadores amantes de la oficina son, de hecho, una minoría:

  • 71% of people who had never previously worked at home before the pandemic now wished continue working at home at least once per week. 79% said they would do so even if it meant giving up their office. 

  • 92% of homeworkers say they want to option to work from home after the pandemic because it has benefits for them 

  • Over 50% of the employees wants to work from home for 3 days or more per week 

  • Estimates are that 25-30% of the workforce will work several days a week by the end of 2021

Hybrid working (some days working in the headquarters, other days working from home) is the preferred way for most part of the employees.

Durante décadas, las empresas grandes y pequeñas han invertido en hacer el lugar de trabajo físico lo más atractivo posible. Las emblemáticas mesas de ping pong y las lujosas cafeterías no hicieron más que confirmar el "debes Ir a to work” axiom by associating positive feelings to that specific place.

The best example of this is the flexible workspace, which originates from the idea that you can work anywhere and in any way you want, as long as it’s between these four walls. The workplace needed to resemble home to uphold the office mentality, then why did it take a pandemic to turn that idea 180 degrees and make home resemble the workplace?

Benefits for remote workers

Either way, the shift to remote work was already happening. After all, recent studies by several researchers have shown time and time again the home workers are more productive, work more hours and happier. Oh, and did I mention they are more productive?

But even as the homeworking (r)evolution took place, no one could expect the recent crisis – which shifted the trend’s gear to the max: nearly two thirds of the U.S. workforce worked remotely in the early stages of the pandemic. Many previous assumptions, such as the correlation between physical interaction and productivity, were shattered.

Aunque las cosas se están convirtiendo en "la nueva normalidad", es importante saber que continuará durante un tiempo. Como dice Nathan Pettijohn (Forbes):

While some may argue that sustaining and building a corporate culture relies heavily on having people interacting in person, it is unlikely that a return to the old normal is going to happen anytime soon. New office layouts are likely needed to distance people, masks may still be required, and there could be a need for regular commitments to temperature checks or testing. This sort of dystopian workplace environment hardly sounds like a catalyst for inspiration or an improved company culture.”

Esto tiene mucho sentido, y no parece que las cosas vayan a cambiar en un futuro próximo. Sin embargo, también hay que considerar lo que ocurre con el "trabajo" cuando todo esto termine. ¿Habrá cambiado la mentalidad de la gente después de adaptar un nuevo (y algunos dirían que mejorado) hábito de trabajo durante muchos meses (o años, dependiendo de lo que traiga el futuro)?

No todos los trabajos son igualmente adecuados para el teletrabajo

Let us address the obvious: no, not all jobs are equally suited for (even part-time) homeworking. Many, if not most, blue-collar jobs such as construction workers, store clerk, gardeners, etc. have a job content that es muy ligado a un lugar.

Not all white-collar work is equal either. A division line has to be drawn between those jobs where physical interaction is integral (doctors, teachers of younger children, etc.) and those where it is not. The latter group is the one we should be focusing on when considering the continuation of remote working, as there is location nor ‘real-life’ people and tools other than office equipment that they need to fulfil (close to) 100% of what is expected of them.

Image of various people with different jobs walking in a line.
Not everybody can work remotely as some careers require being on the work floor, like for example construction workers, catering staff, ... However those who can, should receive the support for remote work.

These are also typically the people that go to the offices (sometimes long commutes), work at their desk or in meeting rooms and clock out at 5:30. Note that (especially in the US and Western Europe) this group is the lion’s share of the entire workforce. As we noted in our previous blog post about homeworking on the report of the World Economic Forum:

En Estados Unidos, el Foro Económico Mundial estima que "alrededor de una cuarta parte (24%) de los trabajadores en ocupaciones "de gestión, empresariales y financieras" -como ejecutivos de empresas, directores de TI, analistas financieros, contables y suscriptores de seguros- tienen acceso al teletrabajo. También lo tienen el 14% de los trabajadores "profesionales y afines", como abogados, diseñadores de software, científicos e ingenieros".

Sin embargo, "solo el 7% de los trabajadores civiles en Estados Unidos, o aproximadamente 9,8 millones de los aproximadamente 140 millones de trabajadores civiles de la nación, tienen acceso a un beneficio de 'lugar de trabajo flexible', o teletrabajo", según la Encuesta Nacional de Compensación (NCS) de 2019 de la Oficina Federal de Estadísticas Laborales.

These (pre-covid) numbers highlight two things: firstly, that ‘having a way to telework’ does not mean actually doing so. Secondly, that there is a vast number of employees that could theoretically (or practically, even, as demonstrated during the pandemic) work from home but do not have access to it.

A study by Dingel & Neiman (2020) estima que 37% de puestos de trabajo puede se realizan desde la sala de estar a tiempo completo – a number that is likely to rise a lot if we account for jobs that could do the necessary  ‘on-site’ work in a few days and work from home the other, i.e. the equilibrium that you should strive for.

Hacia un nuevo equilibrio

When everything returns to standard – and even before that – employers and employees alike will face a new reality: one where remote working has been tried, and where it has proven to be successful. Widely considered a win for all parties involved, we believe that you must try to find a healthy balance between office time and homeworking – and, more importantly, reassess the role of the headquarters as a workplace.

Planning is the key to an effective equilibrium. Avoid spending office face time ‘for the sake of being at your offices’, rather than with a specific purpose in mind. Evaluate your tasks and meetings individually and map them to the offline/online dichotomy. Working on a project by yourself behind a screen the entire day is a clear remote work candidate, whereas brainstorming sessions with teams are far more effective with physical interaction in a meeting room.

Most employers and employees will agree that working together in the workspace can be useful for brainstorming sessions.

Finding an equilibrium that works is company-specific and employee-specific. Many variables will play a role in deciding upon the typical number of days spent working from home: age & family situation, organization structure (start-ups versus large enterprises), job content, team size, seniority, etc. The golden ratio may be different for everyone, but one thing is certain: the outlook is one where homeworking will cover a lot more ground than it does today.

If successfully implemented, hybrid work brings the best of both worlds: enough time for necessary touchpoints and human interaction with the team and managers, a more focused approach to dividing your working hours appropriately, higher levels of productivity for remote workers and an overall happier workforce.

Sobre el autor
Karel Van Ooteghem
Director de Marketing
  • https://www.businessbecause.com/news/insights/7100/working-from-home-after-coronavirus
  • https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-future-of-remote-work-according-to-startups/
  • https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast
  • https://www.inc.com/brit-morse/remote-work-survey-owl-labs.html
  • https://phys.org/news/2018-02-home-happier-youre.html
  • https://hbr.org/2019/08/is-it-time-to-let-employees-work-from-anywhere
  • https://news.gallup.com/poll/306695/workers-discovering-affinity-remote-work.aspx
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanpettijohn/2020/05/20/can-we-just-work-from-home-forever/
  • https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/working-from-home-coronavirus-workers-future-of-work/
  • https://brentneiman.com/research/DN.pdf
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