Remote working: there is a flip side as well

By: Mariapaola Rovetta

 

Here we are at the end of the lockdown, but not the health emergency concerning the spread of Covid-19. Now a hot topic that has become the subject of debate: remote working.

Those who have had the privilege and good fortune of being able to continue working during the lockdown have done it from home, i.e. by agile working, even if this term means being able to carry out their job in any place, not only at home, it is sufficient to have available just a personal computer or smartphone. This differs from teleworking which is the performance rendered in a stable place other than the corporate headquarters. Remote working enables the employer to have higher savings in terms of the costs of fixed workplaces and for the worker to have greater advantages in terms of the balance between professional and private life. It has demonstrated excellent results in terms of productivity, so much so that some companies have already started using it extensively, giving employees the opportunity, according to their needs, to be able to take advantage of it alternating days on site and days working remotely. This is a great achievement.

But beyond this we are faced with a sensational fact: technology has given the chance to the luckiest, we repeat, to continue carrying out their work in an exceptional and dramatic moment. This is a tremendous advantage for the psychophysical wellbeing, and as the moment of being able to return to our offices is getting closer, many of those we have called “lucky” express the desire to want to continue working remotely, regardless of the health situation. This is to the point that some companies, also in the United States, are thinking and some have already done so, of closing offices and only using remote working.

 

Here is the downside. Let us not allow the positive and constructive fact of the possibility of integrating the lives of employees with remote working, giving them the opportunity to continue to be productive, efficient and inserted in the professional context, and therefore serene and fulfilled, thanks to all the tools that allow you to stay in touch with colleagues and customers wherever they are in the world, replace the pleasure of social relationships. Despite the fact that some of these relationships can be demanding due to competition or confrontation. However, we must not forget two categories of people: 1) women, we don’t talk about women with the possibility of choosing times and places of carrying out their work, without this having any impact on their professional and private lives, but of all those women who give significant contribution to the working class without having to renounce family and that thanks to a struggle that lasted 60 years they managed to gain independence. Instead of helping them to maintain what they have obtained, perhaps by building nursery schools and kindergartens close to companies, we force them to work remotely, but this basically means forcing them to “return” to the house, where, in addition to having to work, they must cook, iron, clean and take care of children. This takes away the joy and enthusiasm of being able to go out and achieve their goals in the socio-professional context, as well as in the personal one;  2) young people – those who are 20/30 today, because if we give them the opportunity to work remotely, they will be given the opportunity to be even more comfortable than those who were born between the end of the 60s and 70s and who have already grown up in a context full of comfort, but we also take away the possibility of learning through daily confrontation with more mature colleagues. Furthermore, not only the technical professional aspect, but also the behavioural; we take away from them, already born and raised in the social media era, the possibility of seeing friendships grow, of waking up early in the morning to be punctual to a meeting or go on a business trip visiting places that some, otherwise, might not have the possibility to visit, returning home in the evening tired. These were days filled with many events and this way of life will be limited since with Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings can now be done anywhere, without having to reach the interlocutors who are scattered around the world.

 

Not only that, where will these people work? The employer will have to worry that everyone has the opportunity to perform their job in a comfortable place, with the required safety measures and a place where they have the opportunity to concentrate during the working day without being disturbed. At the same time, be able to find time for rest, sport or any other activity that allows the individual to recover energy for their psycho-physical wellbeing. In conclusion, we cannot let the technology that made life more enjoyable by working remotely, replace cultural exchange, curiosity, the desire to meet new people and move around. Remote work saves the employer money, but will they also pay the cafes, restaurants, hairdressers, clothing stores, gyms the employees normally visit during the lunch break or evening? Because if working permanently remotely, which essentially means at home and being so comfortable, it is likely that workers will not be as enthusiastic, ready to go out and take part in life “away from home”.

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