#Dossier: teleworking and the necessary reinvention of management
Rémi Zunino
Rémi Zunino

#Dossier: teleworking and the necessary reinvention of management

Teleworking is attracting growing popularity. Articles and studies devoted to the subject are more and more numerous and a think tank has recently been formed: the Zevillage website, dedicated in particular to teleworking, launched the Zevillage Club last November in order to bring together companies, experts and local authorities around new forms of work.

The business is big: teleworking is gradually coming out of its label “parent and childcare/freelance/ hippie living in the provinces” to finally be taken seriously. It is now really considered as a tool for tomorrow's work whose revolution is under way.

The influence of coworking spaces that are flourishing in France, of smartphones that blur the boundaries between professional and personal spheres, of Generation Y who have learned to work anywhere and to carry their computer everywhere, of the increase in the number of self-employed entrepreneurs... all of these factors partly explain the rise of remote working in France and around the world.

The task is undoubtedly more difficult in France where it is difficult to bring out the concepts of shared and non-nominative spaces, especially in companies.

In the United States, Wired estimates that in 2016, 43% of Americans will work from home (compared to 23% today) and Intuit2020 estimates that 40% of American freelancers will be working from home in 2020. In France, there are 17% of remote workers, of which 14.2% are teleworking employees.

Talentis looked into the question: we implemented teleworking five years ago already at the request of some of the employees. Today, 3/4 of the team practices it one day a week, not to mention partner coaches. Here is what we remember and what we recommend.

Tour de France du télétravail

Source: Zevillage

Well-being and productivity

We like to recognize the lack of autonomy as a stress factor at work. Translated into a reduced margin of maneuver both in terms of the execution of one's work, the organization of one's time or the organization of one's environment, it often generates frustration and a feeling of non-accomplishment.

Morgane, customer and project coordinator at Talentis gladly says it.

These remote working days are important for me. They create a ritual in my organization: I know that on Thursday I can work on important but not urgent topics, so my agenda for the week is structured accordingly and I feel less under pressure. Being at home allows me to be more focused and to move forward more quickly on these big issues. I live in the suburbs, so I save precious time and this allows me to better deal with the vagaries of public transport the rest of the week..

A study by Stanford University, published in 2013, showed that when Chinese call center employees worked from home, their performance was improved by 13%. According to a study by Anact (National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions), employees generally consider themselves more productive when working from home. Often thanks to a significant reduction in requests from colleagues or calls. So stop the stereotypes, teleworking is not for shopping or basking in the sun: the productivity of remote workers increases by nearly 25% according to Philippe Planterose, President of the French Association of Teleworking and Teleactivities. A real remedy for absenteeism, according to a study commissioned by the company Citrix, nearly 10 billion could be earned in France by greater use of teleworking.

Teleworking: not only at home!

Teleworking in third locations* often answers the fears of some employees to work from home and to let the office interfere a bit too much in their personal sphere. The café, the coworking space, the library... so many places initially used by the self-employed who are attracting more and more employees. Sources of creativity, these places allow remote workers to break the “metro-work-sleep” routine a bit and reassure the employer.

Ophélie, communication and innovation manager at Talentis, works between one and a half days per week on average remotely. But there is no question for her to stay at home.

If I have no problem working from home, I think it's a shame to deprive myself of the atmosphere of cafes or libraries in which I can be particularly productive. I often have trouble staying focused because of the many daily demands of office life, I know that in these places, I can move quickly. Plus, it stimulates my creativity. Sometimes I even work in museum cafés: whenever I need a break, I go to the museum and get back to it. It allows me to keep an open mind.

The rules of remote work that works!

Teleworking brings more autonomy yes, and ensures greater productivity. But it cannot be freed from a few rules that are the responsibility of both employees and managers.

As a teleworker, you must learn to manage your time, protect spaces and places, and remain available for your employer at certain times. Finally, remote work requires greater accountability in terms of organization (tasks and projects are well identified as being able to be part of remote work) but also motivation (beware of the procrastination trap). Also, remember to make your work visible: this avoids being suspected of working less than others.

The manager for his part must ensure that the employee has all the equipment necessary for remote work. Moreover, alternating remote work limited to one or two days per week seems to be the best option. It ensures physical contact with the rest of the team in order to avoid any risk of isolation and loss of collective ties. Preferably avoid putting everyone teleworking on the same day to maintain team dynamism and avoid “blank” days.

Finally, you have to get used to virtual meetings: Skype and other teleconferencing tools must be used as much as possible in order to involve remote workers as much as possible. If they are not physically there, it does not mean that they are absent and it helps maintain the sense of belonging to the group.

Finally, review managerial practices

According to a study carried out by Mobilitis and OpinionWay on teleworking in 2012, 48% of managers are opposed to a request for partial telework. Among the reasons given are the difficulty of controlling quality and communicating, the loss of productivity, the lack of synergies, the lack of involvement in the life of the company and the lack of managerial support and motivation.

Teleworking effectively involves a small cultural revolution in French management that is still very Taylorian: measuring effectiveness through objectives and no longer through presenteeism. However, managerial practices remain resistant to autonomy and the absence of “visual” control. Overall, French companies have still not developed a management system based on the trust that remote working requires. Any form of remote work destroys the key idea that presence = productivity. And this is precisely what still holds back many HR directors and managers who have probably been poorly informed/trained in remote work management.

A corporate policy favorable to teleworking will be well established and experienced within the team if communication is clear around the objectives. Avoid offering it only to people who have children and/or who live in the suburbs. This stigmatizes remote work and can be experienced as a privilege. Offered to everyone, teleworking develops the well-being of employees, unleashes their creativity and productivity provided that it is well supervised.

Finally, remember that teleworking is not a no-go zone: all your employees have the right to disconnect when the day is over and they have no obligation to work even remotely when they are sick.

To go further: we recommend the excellent Humanities dossier which you can find here and whose four different statuses we have included below. Human Sciences is also conducting a survey on change the job.

The Opinion Way and Mobilitis study here

The law on teleworking here

Four different statuses

◊ Teleworking refers to working remotely from your company. But teleworking does not 
It's not just about working from home (although that's the case for the most part) 
time). Some companies are setting up telecentres 
that allow employees to work closer to home. 
You can work remotely from your business in a hotel or in transport, on a vacation spot using your computer, your smartphone and his files.

◊ Nomad work consists in alternating places of activity. It concerns executives, researchers, journalists, managers, consultants who often travel for professional reasons.

◊ Working from home is not necessarily teleworking: a maternal assistant takes care of the children at home, without being a teleworker.

◊ The “gray work” is nothing more than taking work home without this being fixed as part of the official working time. Teachers have been working at home to correct copies for a long time, managers, managers, lawyers, and academics have been bringing work home, and doctors or restaurateurs doing their homework on Sunday afternoons.

Source: Human Sciences

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