Teleworking is synonymous with freedom for many. However, many studies point out the points of attention to be kept in mind when working 100% remotely in companies with a hybrid model.
Regular teleworking is a new arrival in our daily lives. Whether we love it, adore it or can't stand it anymore, it is now as much a part of our conversations as Nicole's office with a view or Sylvain's poor basement office.
For many of us, teleworking is synonymous with flexibility, freedom, time saving, autonomy and confidence. These are all elements that push many workers - who are allowed to do so - to spend most or all of their time teleworking.
Work preferences are very often undergone rather than chosen. It is quite obvious that people's life stories, age, family life, income level etc. will impact on their work choices and preferences. Young urban people will tend to be over-represented in organisations where face-to-face work is predominant because space is limited, and they tend to be in search of a richer social life. While parents with children living further away from their workplace will be happy to have a very sedentary organisation and avoid transport. If we go a little further, let's think about people with disabilities, pregnant women, people looking after frail people, etc., all have contexts that favour the choice of telework, which is probably more practical and more attractive than going to the office
Choosing a 100% telework format for part of the company (remote-first is a separate issue of course) may imply negative effects for these populations, and it is important to keep these in mind for those responsible for the construction of hybrid work policies, but also for employees working or wishing to work 4-5 days a week remotely.
A study* conducted by Nicholas Bloom between 2010 and 2015 in China showed that the rate of internal promotion between daily employees and fully telecommuting employees was 50% higher in favour of face-to-face employees.
It is easy to understand that when one is at home, even with the new office tools, the memorial impact is quite different between a teams message saying hello than a hand wave when passing by the office. Informal moments are non-existent in teleworking. No coffee to talk about the weekend or meeting in the lift to catch up on the latest company news.
An important point is also the management of mixed meetings (some participants in person, others by teleconference). The sharing of information by people in the same physical location before and after the meeting can have a very important influence on the conclusions/decisions resulting from the meeting.
However, teleworkers will not have this influence on the participants and they will surely lack this additional information to be more complete in their duties and responsibilities or, to come back to the first point, to position themselves.
Today, many digital solutions boast of recreating a digital workspace. We are convinced that these spaces will bring a lot of value and succeed in creating - partially - a link between employees. However, it is key for the people responsible for these issues to set up routines and processes in order to maintain strong links between members of the same team, however large it may be.