Since the pandemic, many city dwellers have been looking for a life away from the congestion of the big cities. Guillaume and his family have done just that, leaving the Paris region for the Atlantic coast. This senior executive was able to keep his job by teleworking.
Since the pandemic, large cities have become less attractive. The capital is experiencing a still limited but not negligible urban exodus, as shown by the following indicator: the consequent drop in the number of schoolchildren in Parisian schools at the start of the last school year. There were 6,000 fewer children There were 6,000 fewer children in the capital's schools than last year. Many city dwellers aspire to a provincial or rural life, far from the congestion of the big cities. After the first confinement, more than one out of two Parisians declared themselves ready to leave as soon as possible to settle in another region. Guillaume, his wife and their two twins have done just that. Six months ago, they left the Paris region for the Atlantic coast. The 38-year-old executive was able to keep his teleworking job by negotiating with his employer. He explains.
E.C: How did you decide to move?
We were already thinking about it before the lockdown but we were planning to leave later, it just so happened that the covid precipitated things. We found a house we liked and my wife had a job opportunity there. We moved to Arcachon last May. We wanted to be closer to our families who are in the south-west. I'm originally from Bordeaux but I didn't want to go back there: Arcachon has the merit of bringing a real change of life. The setting is very pleasant. And the direct TGV to and from Paris in less than 3 hours makes it easier for me to organise. It's very practical.
E.C: How often do you go to the office?
I spend three days there every fortnight. I take the train early on Monday, get to work by 8.30am and leave on Wednesday evening. I sleep in a hotel, and these stays also allow me to have lunch and drinks with colleagues I like.
E.C: How was the announcement received by your employer?
I spoke about my plans to move by telephone informally at Christmas time. It was well received, without too many major difficulties, and the management validated it. I have a derogatory status because normally my colleagues are entitled to two days of telework per week. There had already been precedents before me, which facilitated the discussion: today there are five or six of us who have teleworker status out of a hundred or so employees. It's discretionary, the management tries not to communicate too much about it, they authorise certain things for certain people... The bigger we get, the harder it is for them to manage. The company gives this benefit more easily to autonomous employees, less to managers or employees at the beginning of their career. For example, my boss would like to go remote and leave the Paris region, but it's complicated to set up because he has eight people to manage. As far as I'm concerned, I've been with the company for three and a half years, and I can work remotely in a very fluid way. I am aware that at the beginning of a job it is much more complicated.
E.C: And by your colleagues?
When you have a derogation, people ask questions and that's normal. The place where you set up your business has a lot of influence on reactions. The fact that I'm in Arcachon doesn't necessarily work in my favour because it has a seaside connotation. " He's at the beach, so he doesn't work much", some people say with humour sometimes, but they say it anyway. If you move to Limoges, it gives a different perception. Moreover, in my company, there is one person who works from Brussels and another from Brest, and the colleagues' feelings are different.
E.C: Who pays for your travel expenses?
I consider that I have an advantage. I consider that I have an advantage, my employer is doing me a favour by authorising this work system which is nonetheless derogatory. Today it seems inappropriate to ask him to participate. I pay my own hotel and transport costs, which represent a little less than 500 euros per month. This is substantial, but these expenses were budgeted for in our plan. As far as working materials are concerned, I got a computer monitor. I did not ask for financial aid to furnish my office space.
E.C: Do you know if your company is considering adjusting your salary depending on where you telework? ?
I'm not sure if this applies to Arcachon, as the cost of living is not necessarily cheaper than in the Paris region! I'm quite sceptical about this approach, in Ile-de-France it's cheaper to live in Aubervilliers than in the Marais. The rule can be applied to different criteria: the spouse's salary, the number of children... This perspective seems irrational to me.
No need to show colleagues that you are there until 8pm.
E.C: Do you miss the office?
My rhythm suits me well. Ideally, I would like to reduce the face-to-face to two days rather than three every fortnight.
E.C: Do you perform as well from home?
Yes, I am even more efficient because I am more focused. I waste less time, I don't have to do smalltalk in the corridor with colleagues with whom I have less affinity. And if I want to chat for five minutes with certain colleagues I like, we can always call each other! I tend to start and finish a little earlier than I used to. At 8.30am I'm up and running, I don't have any transport time so I see my kids more at the end of the day. It's really nice. And there's no presenteeism, where you have to show your colleagues that you're there until 8pm. It's rare, but when I've finished everything at 5 p.m., I simply stop working!
E.C: How do you see yourself in the coming years?
So far it's very cool. Last weekend, the weather was great and we were at the beach with the kids. We can do everything on foot, we're by the sea, it's very practical. We were a bit afraid of the desert side in the off-season, but it's not the case at all. The city is very lively, there are people every weekend, it's as if we were still in the Paris region! If it could last 20 years, I would sign up straight away.