Coronavirus: a call for “common sense” from the Head of State on teleworking

Emmanuel Macron pleaded Wednesday evening to “encourage”, in areas of accelerated circulation of the Covid, to spend two or three days of telework “where it is possible”. “It’s common sense, but not a panacea,” he said. The subject should be discussed this Thursday at a meeting between the government and the social partners.

Employees who currently telework rarely do so 100%.

It is the major revolution in the content of work that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about. Lagging behind other countries, France during confinement massively converted to teleworking, which concerned up to 40% of employees. This proportion was halved in June and is currently 15% according to the National Association of HRDs (ANDRH).

With the second wave of coronavirus, the question of returning employees to their homes has started to arise again in recent weeks. The government’s remarks became more insistent. “In a heightened and maximum alert zone, employers and employees must, as much as possible, resort to teleworking”, tweeted the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, on October 5. And although statistics are not yet available, many companies located in the maximum alert zone, but not all, have stepped up teleworking.

“Common sense, but not the panacea”

“We need businesses that work, open public services, teachers in the classroom”, said the head of state this Thursday evening. No question, therefore of generalizing remote work. But in areas of accelerated circulation of the virus, “Where possible, in offices where there is no public access, in companies [qui le peuvent], negotiated as close as possible to the field “, it is necessary “Encourage two to three days of teleworking per week”, ruled the President of the Republic.

It is “Common sense, but not the panacea”, he added. It is necessary ” pay attention “ to the work collective and there is the risk of« isol[er] people “, he alerted, pointing to the difficulty for those who do not have “A nice second home” but live in “Apartment with children”.

VIDEO. Emmanuel Macron’s announcements

Videoconference Thursday

The subject of telework will also be on the menu of the videoconference on Thursday morning between the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, the Secretary of State for Occupational Health, Laurent Pietraszewski, and employers’ and trade union organizations. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the implementation of the health protocol in companies in its latest version, stopped on September 17.

Both the government and the social partners are approaching the subject very cautiously. Not just because the latter have entered into negotiations on the subject. Employers and unions also agree that 100% remote work has a number of drawbacks and is therefore not desirable.

Too serious a subject

But in the current epidemic context, is 15% of teleworkers sufficient? In any case, the relative low level of this rate with regard to the practice in confinement should not mask a reality: it is true that there was a massive return to the site at the start of the school year, but “We went to the other side of the river”, explains Benoît Serre, vice-president of ANDRH. If he does not ignore the fact that he can “To be reluctant to fight” among some leaders, he underlines that the association has already counted 250 to 300 negotiations in progress on the subject, which is ” a lot “.

Teleworking is “A subject too serious to be treated in a hurry”, estimates this former HRD, associated with the Boston Consulting Group. Clearly, its current low water is due more to caution than to backtracking. Benoît Serre insists on the three “Legs” of the file with the need to revisit “Management, the physical organization of the company and the relationship between employer and employee” so that the reorganization does not lead to a drop in collective productivity. And for that it takes time.