November 22, 2022
3 minutes

Flexibility at American Express, bosses: beware of negotiations and telework for all

Every week, Offishall reads the press and scours the articles related to hybrid work. Here is our selection of the three most important pieces of content of the last seven days.

Flexibility at American Express, bosses: beware of negotiations and telework for all

Every week, Offishall reads the press and scours the articles related to hybrid work. Here is our selection of the three must-read contents of the last seven days:

Telework: bosses prefer to sign a charter rather than an agreement

Because signing a telework agreement means entering into tough negotiations between employers and union representatives, around major and sometimes controversial issues. How many days of telework should be granted? Which ones? What about an allowance and how much to choose for it? There are many stumbling blocks, which is why - as we learn from this article in Les Echos - the majority of companies that can avoid this (very small companies or SMEs) often choose to impose a unilateral charter on employees, which sets out the framework for telework without asking their opinion. " The charter is a lesser evil, but when there was the possibility of negotiating with the unions, it shows the shortcomings of social dialogue," confided the CFDT national secretary to Les Echos.

Other structures decide not to formalise anything, neither charter nor agreement. Some, on the contrary, put a whole bunch of commandments in writing in a fastidious manner: "no working in co-working spaces or outside the home, no working on Mondays or Tuesdays, strict working hours". "This form of rigidity due to the employer's fear of letting go of too much ballast is counterproductive. By dint of supervision, we lose the flexibility that is the raison d'être of telework", says one of the experts quoted in Marion Kindermans' paper.

Amex Flex or the hybrid revolution brought by American Express

Consensus on telework agreements is therefore often difficult to achieve. And in some sectors or organisations, managers are reluctant to embrace a hybrid model. That's why this week's announcement by American Express marks a turning point in terms of employee flexibility: the financial giant - 63,000 employees worldwide - has unveiled part of its post-pandemic teleworking policy. Employees will be able to work from wherever they want for four (non-consecutive) weeks a year, two of which they will be allowed to work from outside their own country. The aim is to offer employees greater flexibility. Because "the office is no longer the only place where most colleagues can work effectively", says Amex's boss in the note sent to employees this week and published on the company's blog. Called Amex Flex, the new model offers employees three options, depending on their activities: a hybrid model, an onsite model and a third, fully virtual option.

The hybrid method will allow employees to choose which days they come to the office: the company plans an average of 2 days per week of face-to-face training, more if the employees wish.

The onsite method projects 4-5 days in the office each week, it should concern few employees: those who have the obligation to be there physically - security service, concierge tech etc - as well as employees who want to be present every day or almost every day.

Finally, a third option is offered to employees: the 100% virtual method, for which the eligibility criteria will be communicated on 1 November. These announcements will initially concern American Express employees in the US, the UK and Germany from 24 January.

Telework: "Pregnant women and parents with young children would benefit greatly from a dedicated right".

Published this week in Le Monde, this article argues for the introduction of a right to telework for pregnant women and parents of young children. The two authors, both management researchers, put forward several arguments: teleworking makes life easier for these employees, particularly by reducing their travel time. It therefore allows them to better organise their working hours and to increase the loyalty of young mothers to their company, particularly by simplifying breastfeeding for them thanks to the distance. "This would also benefit all stakeholders. Newborns would be cared for in better conditions," the authors argue.

They point to the reluctance of managers to introduce remote working for pregnant women and young parents, even though their performance is even stronger when working remotely. Camille Desmoulins and Marion Fortin note that"it is important to reconsider work norms to move away from presenteeism, which only values time spent in the workplace, to focus instead on the tasks performed. They thus touch on the crucial issue of management evolution in the hybrid era: the shift from the obligation of means to the obligation of results.

They therefore call on high-level managers to set an example and invite them to use "these rights to partial telework in order to set an example" and "put an end to the prejudices that still seem to exist around this practice". In conclusion, "such a reform would finally contribute to greater equality between women and men at work". And this despite the risks of female invisibility in the workplace and the overload of domestic tasks for women.

Edmée Citroën

Hybrid work at your fingertips.

Our team is available to help you and answer all your questions!

Request a demo