Telecommuting is not “business as usual”

This text is part of the special booklet Reinventing work

“Here is the telework for good,” believes Louis-Olivier Batty, who saw the effects of this revolution. Last March, the head of this team of Hydro-Québec’s Media and External Relations Department saw a large deployment take place. “Within a few weeks, nearly 11,000 of our 20,000 employees were working from home,” recalls the man who, like many other managers, had to work hard to ensure corporate employees could benefit from in “optimal. conditions” to accomplish their tasks. Not in the office, but in the comfort of their home.

Thanks to technological advances and greater Internet access, working from home for the benefit of a non-owned company has gradually become more widespread in the last decade. But economically, on a voluntary basis, and in a hybrid way, while presence at work is also necessary, albeit strongly encouraged.

All of this was swept away by typhoon COVID-19, which forced large and small businesses to quickly adapt to the lockdown requirement that prohibits gatherings in meeting rooms, around coffee machines and a fortiori in the elevator …

A (massive) test

The new way of working, especially in the service sector, is no longer new, as a lot of excitement has accelerated thinking. Even the orange cones have something to say, at least according to Robert Dumas, president and CEO of Sun Life Financial in Quebec. This insurance company, whose famous building on Metcalfe Street in Montreal is the epitome, is not expecting a pandemic, but rather the work of the future Metropolitan Express Network. “Nearly 600 of our employees live on the North Shore and will suffer the effects of the tunnel closure [sous le mont Royal] during the works. The question of telework has imposed itself, but such a large -scale deployment has not yet been tested. In our Canadian offices, everything was done in two or three days, ”Mr. Dumas recalled.

This “trial” is likely to be extended further because the end of the pandemic seems to mock the predictions of politicians, who continue to push the deadline for real deconfinement. Meanwhile, many employees value the freedom to no longer be stuck in traffic, while not always managing to juggle the demands of their job and the inherent demands of family life.

“For parents, it’s hell,” admits Nicole Labbé, experience manager and author of How to survive a work reorganization? (Square Edition). With the same breath, he also admitted, after a sound to his many contacts in anticipation of this article, “here’s the telework to stay. This search is unanimous. According to him, many professionals do not want to return , “whether they are accountants, lawyers or doctors”.

The Blind Spot: Mental Health

However, while employees don’t plan to transform their living room or basement into an office, the advent of telecommuting seems like a shock rather than a reasonable accommodation. “This is an important change, but not the unknown, want to define Robert Dumas. Our managers have a primary role in making the transition, and especially in managing cases of anxiety. Many employees are satisfied, but after six months, we will see more of the flaws: the mix between personal and professional life, the feeling of belonging to the company, especially for new employees, the impression of inadequacy, etc. »

“When we evaluate our employees, the desire to meet in person often comes out,” Louis-Olivier Batty admits. And this is an additional challenge for people living alone. These observations come as no surprise to Nicole Labbé, who wants to send an important message to businesses. “Going from work to telecommuting, sorry, no “business as usual”. This raises mental health issues and, more than ever, managers need to be close to their employees. In the context of telework, some do not get a job while others do not feel that their contribution is recognized or appreciated. And let us not forget that an employer is not there to monitor a worker: he must accompany him, to allow him to walk further. »In the office as well as away.

Many employees were satisfied [du télétravail]but after six months, we see more of the flaws: the mix between personal and professional life, the feeling of belonging to the company, especially for new employees, the impression of insufficient labor, etc. .

To be seen in the video

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