As a consequence of the health crisis, the professional world is undergoing a transformation. We are therefore observing new forms of work : remote work or hybrid work. Mixing remote and face-to-face work, this mode of work is gaining in popularity. However, is it well adapted to the needs of employees and, above all, to the new challenges of today ? At present, the answer is yes. Indeed, companies have no choice but to juggle with health measures, the risks linked to covid-19 and their economic needs. But what will happen once the crisis is over ? In the rest of this article, we will try to shed some light on this and, above all, on what tomorrow’s work might look like.
Working methods : the health crisis has reshuffled the cards
It is now clear that the health crisis has reshuffled the deck in the world of work, which has since undergone profound changes. During the first containment, the vast majority of companies were forced to close their doors, democratising the use of telework. A situation that nobody was really prepared for.
The result is significant figures. According to a study conducted by INSEE, 73% of companies reported a drop in sales of around 10%, while 35% of them admitted to having lost more than 50% of their turnover. These drastic decreases were all limited by the use of digital tools.
How has digital technology “saved” the economy ?
Many software applications have kept the business going, while collaboration platforms or digital workplaces have helped to maintain a minimum service. Of course, it took some time to adapt, as teleworking in times of covid-19 was not necessarily obvious because of the conditions we know : children at home, prohibition to go out, closed outlets, unsuitable spaces…
However, over time, practices have become more refined and needs have evolved. The rigid world of work has gradually opened up to the idea that flexibility should be one of the new parameters to be taken into account in order to ensure the well-being of employees and the sustainability of the business. Some companies have decided to review their operating model. While some have switched to full remote, others favour a hybrid formula, combining remote and face-to-face work.
Health crisis : how did employees adapt ?
The repercussions of this health, economic and social crisis have been quite different for employees. Indeed, according to a study conducted by the firm Empreinte humaine, the rate of depression among employees rose from 21 to 36%. This is linked in particular to isolation, to the fact of not being able to do anything other than work from home in sometimes complicated conditions, especially as not everyone is housed in the same place.
Indeed, flats and houses can be more or less large, access to the internet and the mastery of new technological tools is not easy for everyone. The result is an increase in tensions also linked to a relatively ill-adapted management. According to the same study, 1 in 3 people now want to leave their company.
However, all employees have been able to adapt to the situation and do the best they can. Digital tools and the democratisation of the use of the Internet in the world of work have made it possible to avoid making a situation that was already unprecedented “worse”. Companies have also made significant investments, particularly in the digital workplace, which allows everyone to have a concrete interface from which to work.
Productivity at the time of covid-19 : a historic fall
The health crisis logically led to an economic crisis. Indeed, when it came to a standstill, companies were hit hard. Some sectors, such as the hotel and restaurant industries, remain on life support. However, service companies or those specialising in the digital sector have managed to manage this period better, thanks in particular to a trade that was not really impacted. Nevertheless, the declines have been marked, with French GDP plunging by 8.3% in 2020.
The reasons for this fall in productivity are quite numerous :
- lack of means and digital tools
- lack of knowledge of the challenges of digital transformation
- lack of control over the security aspect of these digital tools.
However, this period of crisis has made it possible to realise that the world of work was lagging behind on all these issues. As a result, investment in research, in the development of new technologies and in solutions that promote the deployment of a rapid and concrete response. Digital workplaces provide a secure environment from which employees can work with peace of mind.
Hybrid working : a solution to be deployed quickly ?
However, telework itself is beginning to be a source of weariness. According to Empreinte humaine, 40% of employees can no longer stand this method. There is the hybrid solution, which offers employees the possibility of juggling on-site travel and remote work. A solution that is attracting more and more companies and employees. According to Bercy, 75% of company employees are ready to be tempted.
Hybrid working method : a nuanced idea
However, hybrid working is not a system that has only advantages. Ironically, while it allows for greater flexibility, it requires much more organisation. It is necessary to define precisely, in advance, the days on which a particular person will work from home. Similarly, you have to learn to juggle the ups and downs of daily life because, as we all know, nothing ever goes according to plan. Some employees will need to work on certain files or carry out certain tasks from their office when this was not necessarily planned.
But that’s not all. It has been proven that the French remain very attached to the office. Following the first confinement, we would be (according to a Morgan Stanley study) the people who would return to work on site the most ! More than that, the office also remains attractive. According to EasyRecrue, in England, a model of this kind was tested by a L’Oréal subsidiary. The result was that after one year, employees who had requested several days of remote work returned to a 4-day on-site – 1-day remote formula.
Faced with an exceptional situation, the response of companies has been quite similar. If the crisis has put a lot of things in the balance, it will at least have allowed us to understand and assimilate the fact that the digital transition must accelerate. Today, there are many tools available, but secure collaboration platforms make it possible to ensure the continuity of one’s practice within a trusted ecosystem, even from a distance. Companies are adapting and offering hybrid work formulas that combine distance and face-to-face work. However, while these tools meet the new needs for flexibility, understanding and adaptability, they also entail a certain amount of frustration among employees who are not necessarily adept at working at home.