Teleworking: progress or accident?
The corona crisis has forced us to face the urgency of calling the way in which our society functions into question and transform it. One of the most immediate effects has been the development of remote working. What if the extension of teleworking was progress rather than an accident?
The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to take a radical step. We had to re-organise ourselves practically overnight, so that we could continue to work together but from our own homes.
It is possible that this is not an exception and it should become normalised. We’re still at risk of a second, or even third, wave, not to mention the risk of a new pandemic. This is why we might be able to benefit from these extraordinary circumstances by introducing a new normal consisting of teleworking one or two days a week all year round. If we were to experience a new pandemic, we’d already be better prepared, more effective, and would be caught less unaware than if we had to implement teleworking within a few days.
The health argument isn’t the only one defending the expansion of remote working as its adoption also means progress in environmental matters.
For instance, in France, each person generates on average two tonnes of CO2 every year commuting from their home to the office. This is dramatic, considering that we know that each of the planet’s inhabitants shouldn’t emit more than two tonnes of CO2 per year in order to stop the planet’s temperature increase from exceeding 2°C by 2025. In other words, a French person exhausts their quota just by travelling to work! In order to reduce the environmental impact, and we understand the current emergency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can choose “greener” methods of transport, such as cycling, walking, or car sharing, when not using a car would be difficult, for example when travelling long distance or by those with bad physical condition. However, it seems as though the solution which will most notably reduce carbon emissions is implementing teleworking which is accessible to everyone provided that they have access to digital technology. Reducing the number of commuters also reduces contamination, traffic jams, accidents (during the lock-down in March, the number of road deaths decreased by 40%), delays, and stress. Finally, teleworking allows us to balance our work and home lives more easily. It could be the solution if we have to look after a young or sick child. Ultimately, it seems that remote working is here to stay, and it won’t go away when the coronavirus does.
However, it’s not a question of radically opposing on-site working. In fact, we can’t negate the positive effects of working in a group, such as the competitive spirit, and the current emergence of co-working spaces perfectly demonstrates how it’s often difficult to work alone from home. Not to mention the fact that, for many, access to digital technology is limited, even difficult: it’s not a question of teleworking further widening the digital technology gap and its consequences for the most disadvantaged. Therefore, finding a certain flexibility in the way companies are organised would be needed, rather than on-site working being completely substituted by remote working. This means that going to the workplace is an option, not a rule, which can be chosen when needed or preferred. Some large companies (as well as some consulting companies and Danone Netherlands) have fewer workplaces than workers, a sign that teleworking is already being considered. The challenge lies in welcoming these changes and in encouraging their implementation and development, as the beneficial effects of this way of working have been seen.
However, one final difficulty remains. Although working from home seems to be synonymous with progress, sometimes it’s difficult to embrace this system as it involves rethinking your entire way of working. In reality, implementing teleworking isn’t too hard, but you have to be prepared for it. This is why, at Little Buddha, we’ve developed MyMediaConnect, an IT software that allows us to work efficiently while working remotely. This digital tool automates the approval procedures between departments, prevents the dispersion of branded assets and regulates workflow. As a consequence, it facilitates project monitoring and their legibility and increases productivity. In addition to this, its secure, cloud-based server allows us to access the workflow from anywhere (in the office, at home, wherever) and guarantees the flexibility that is crucial right now.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has forced us to change our way of working, among other things, has involved an enormous challenge, but maybe it’s also done us a favour by allowing us to learn a lesson in progress, to make the world a little greener.