January 21, 2022

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Telecommuting: 5 false beliefs to overcome



Telework is a win-win agreement for the company and the employee. Companies can thus recruit in different employment areas and reduce the costs relating to premises and transport. There will be no turning back on this revolution.

The challenge is above all to help organizations transform their managerial culture to prevent teleworking from becoming a problem: micro-management, non-productive overwork, acute meetingitis, social isolation, failure to deal with conflicts, etc.

This is based primarily on the relaxation of limiting beliefs that prevent the development of a positive vision of digitized work. Including among leaders of large groups.

Misconception #1. “Without supervision, employees will stop working”

Much of this belief stems from a lack of trust. But let’s be honest, if a person does not want to work in the office, they will also be able to pretend that it is at home or on the premises of the company.

The challenge is above all to put in place motivating management practices that make it possible to manage the activity by objectives. A person in presenteeism, that is to say, who does less than expected, may have a problem of demotivation, burnout, lack of skills or all of them. The real question that telework tickles is what performance management in my organization? Is it effective (clear and motivating) and sustainable (in balance with people’s resources)?

False belief #2. “We must maintain the boundary between professional and personal life”

For the sake of psychological control, we like to set up mental fences. Is this realistic in a hybrid world where you can carry your entire office in a simple smartphone? This boundary that we want hermetic of the two worlds in fact involves lots of guilt and stress. I feel guilty for working at 9 p.m. and I feel guilty if I do my shopping during the day. A lose-lose deal.

Let’s go beyond this fence to move towards integration avoiding rigidity and guilt: yes, I can do my shopping in the middle of the day and send a message on Saturday morning at 9 am. Work time must integrate with personal time in a hybrid world. We do not sell time, but added value.

False belief #3. “Distractions from home cause productivity to plummet”

This belief is based on the idea that the workplace would be more optimized for production. Yet, many of my clients complain about the distraction at the office and tell me that, on the contrary, they manage to work more deeply at home.

The office is: often problematic travel time, meetings that are useless where it is more difficult to pretend to listen, friendly colleagues who arrive in your office to discuss five minutes but who make you lose twenty, broken elevators, hard-to-reach photocopiers, crowded canteens where you have to calculate the right time of arrival, open spaces that make you share the noise, the tensions on the temperature of the room or the opening windows, meeting rooms rarer than gold…

False belief #4. “Non-eligible employees will be jealous”

This is undoubtedly true, but this belief is based on the idea that the company is an egalitarian world. Nothing could be further from the truth. The company is a place of arbitrary and hierarchical decisions. Not all jobs are possible digitally. This is part of the constraints: a Parisian, Marseille or Bordeaux taxi driver knows that he will have to deal with traffic jams. If that doesn’t suit him, it’s up to him to find another job, not the job to change.

Why force everyone to stay in the workplace in the name of false equality? Where does this equality end? The salary, the size of the office, the tasks, the schedules, the transport time…?

False belief #5. “Innovations happen face-to-face”

Another bogus excuse. How many research projects are done remotely today. To work in consultation with this sector, this is the norm. And the big international programs? The same ? Large groups also work in several R&D centers around the world.

Of course, it is necessary to create meeting times to allow the relationship to be established as well as possible, but remote work in no way prevents innovation. There is a confusion between the need to work in the same room for innovation and the need for relationship. If so, why not devote 3 to 4 days a year to being together in team building and focus that the quality of the relationship?

Matthew Poirot, psychologist and doctor in management, is the director of Midori consulting.