Is teleworking (really) the answer?

Is teleworking (really) the answer?

Since the beginning of containment (in France, 2020/03), telework has become the norm for many, including myself, however, the return to the office is looming, and I can already hear the first discontents about it. A short post about my point of view.

Let's talk about CoVid

With the spread of CoVid and containment, teleworking has become mandatory for many companies so that they are not forced to close down. Some companies even boasted that they were in the business of teleworking the most when 2 months earlier they were struggling to allow 2 to 3 days in a month... but nevermind.

Teleworking has changed the way many people work, some, like me, were already used to it and didn't really have a hard time adapting to the remote full, others didn't necessarily have the equipment or the place to work remotely.

In addition, some criteria must also be taken into account, for example, it can be complicated or even impossible to work with children nearby, some do not necessarily have a very high-speed connection, couples can sometimes find it difficult to telework at the same time (for example when both spend a lot of time in voice chat)

Teleworking provides solutions...

During the CoVid episode, teleworking has indeed brought solutions, and allowed many companies to keep their business by reducing the impact of containment.

Apart from the epidemic episode, teleworking has often been a tool for me, who lives about forty kilometres from the capital, because it sometimes gives me a bit of a break, telling me "today, I wouldn't have an hour's drive to work".

It also allows me to be able to work at a distance in special cases, for example: a sick child, being sick yourself, transport problems, strikes (which never happens in the Ile de France region - sarcasm, it happens very often in France) etc...

Moreover, it also allows people to live not necessarily close to their place of work, but where they wish, perhaps allowing for a better distribution of the population, which is often forced to live at a reasonable distance from their place of work.

...but also problems

Nevertheless, teleworking requires rigour, remaining focused on one's work when one is in a personal environment can sometimes be complicated, and the sources of deconcentration are multiple: television, telephone, coffee and so on...

I would also add that it can sometimes be complicated to work when you feel "isolated" from your colleagues. All the "remote coffees" in the world do not replace humans in front of you.

Managing people at a distance can also be complicated, a good manager will appreciate the human aspect of the relationship with his subordinates, often outside of particular points. Having your team only in scheduled meetings creates a distance, in fact.

Personally, I had a "dry spell", about a month after the beginning of the confinement, where I could no longer be as productive, because I felt alone in the world, and I missed human contact. Still, I'm someone who works very well on my own, but I missed taking a real coffee break with colleagues.

Breaks, let's talk about them... teleworking also means reducing the boundary between professional and personal. For my part, I live in the country, when I'm at home, I'm in a completely different environment from my workplace, often located in Paris or in the inner suburbs, close to the capital. At a distance for several months now, this limit is gradually fading away. Moreover, working alone also means that I tend not to take my breaks, even for meals, or don't necessarily pay attention to the time in the evening... fortunately, my better half is there to remind me!

I miss humans

I worked for several years for Médiamétrie, which has part of its staff in Sophia Antipolis (near Nice). I sometimes found it difficult to work (at a distance) with my colleagues in Sophia Antipolis. Then, at one point, I joined a colleague who went there for one or two days every month. Immediately, I saw the positive effects, people were no longer just names or videos on Teams, but humans. Seeing people outside the meetings, being able to talk to them, having coffee, going for a drink in the evening and so on, allowed me to pass from contact to being human, and that's how I was able to work more effectively with people who were far away from me.

Since the beginning of the confinement, this is mainly what I miss, having coffee with colleagues in the morning, having lunch together, having a drink from time to time in the evening... It is the human aspects of work that I miss the most. We often forget that even in computing, we are human...

Besides, I could also talk about certain meetings. For my part, I'm clearly not a fan of meetings (I must have / ask about 3 per month), but during some of them, I appreciate the presence to see people's reactions, for example when you want to present new projects, new ideas etc... being able to see "on the spot" people's reaction is sometimes an efficient tool to judge the impact of your presentation.

In conclusion

I'm not really for or against telework, I just consider it a slider that needs to be adjusted judiciously, personally, I believe that telework should be done, but not permanently, with more or less regular real human contact, whether it's one or more days a month, as my employer, WeScale, does with WeShare, or a few days a week.

Why is this? Simply to keep human contact with people, and not just be another name on a screen...

I would end this post by simply stating that I feel fortunate to have a caring employer and customer during this particular time.