“Working from home, 6 months later”

Note published in Centro de Excelencia en Gestión Humana, Noticias [News] Section, by Néstor Astete.
Read the note in its original source

“Working from Home” and “Teleworking” are different work modalities and I see that these terms are used interchangeably, creating confusion among companies and collaborators. In my article of this last March 26, “Teleworking the Great Challenge”, I wrote about the Conditions and Principles of Teleworking. After 6 months of quarantine, I reaffirm that content.

Today I will focus on “Working from Home”, a condition forced by the pandemic. Many of those who are working from home are experiencing new working conditions, which have suddenly appeared in their lives, without clear rules or the possibility of expressing their opinion, all of this under old labor regulations that govern employer-collaborator relationships, which are now taking place in a new and different scenario.

“Working from Home” has brought new conditions to job positions and current labor laws do not take the post-Covid-19 normality into account. These conditions are creating high levels of stress and anxiety in workers, equipment and telecommunication expenses that are not acknowledged by the employer, long working hours without control of the time worked and uncertainty in regard to health risks such as illnesses or accidents at home.

Dr. Luis Fernando Llanos, former head of the INS [National Health Institute, Peru], tells us: “Working from home requires a disciplined culture, working hours are destined for work and not for social life, and both the employer and the collaborator must observe those working hours … we do not have a culture of responsibility at work”. I agree, both parties must assume their responsibility and comply with and be mindful of the defined working hours. These days, virtual meetings are being called even at 9 or 10 pm, even on weekends, emails requesting information are being sent at 7 am or 10 pm, indiscriminately, exerting pressure on the collaborator who is thus unable to disconnect from work, rest and take care of his health, or be with his family in a proper way.

Cases of lack of equipment or internet connectivity are also common. Families with school-age children; the younger these children are, the more they require the permanent presence of one of the parents; each child with a laptop or tablet and mom and dad both working from home. They have had to pay to increase internet speed at home and they have had to buy at least one laptop. There is no clarity or standardization in the criteria for the employer to acknowledge some or all of these family expenses incurred by the collaborator. Some employers with a high sense of responsibility and fairness to their personnel, as is proper, provide the equipment and the necessary connectivity for the performance of work, but other employers do not do this in an equal manner. The absence of regulatory standards opens the matter for interpretation by each company.

The risks of accidents at home exist and they are happening. Will these accidents be reported as workplace accidents? Who is going to verify the conditions under which work is conducted? Does the employer enter the home and assume the costs of implementing the minimum necessary conditions for connectivity and safe work? Jorge Luis Cáceres, PhD, former Superintendent of the Sunafil [National Superintendence of Labor Inspection, Peru] recommends: “To date, the key element for verifying conditions at the home work station is the worker’s self-diagnosis in the form of a Sworn Statement and the periodic monitoring of said conditions by the direct supervisor. This, under the premise that the rules of remote work are temporary, while the pandemic lasts”. I would just add that the employer bears the cost of the necessary modifications or installations. Clear regulations will help solve these situations.

Ricardo Martínez Rojas, PhD, partner at the De la Vega y Martínez Rojas SC Firm, in Mexico City, tells us “… there is no specific regulation for working from home; normally it was agreed to in writing, as a benefit in specific situations … today, Individual Agreements should be signed with the collaborator and the rights and guarantees provided in the labor law should be abided by”, and he continues, “… in working from home scenarios, employers will not be able to assign workloads that differ from those corresponding to the working day”.

The regulatory precariousness of the Working from Home mode is clear; unlike this, well-conceived and implemented Telework in each organization will continue to expand in a “hybrid” way, that is, some days of teleworking and others at the office. This scenario must be regulated by means of a legislation that is aligned with current times and is a priority. The benefits of Telework are several:

• Technology allows work to be conducted from any place,
• Full-time telework (8 hours a day and up to 48 hours per week) has the advantage of flexible hours.
• This enables students, homemakers, retirees, disabled people and currently unemployed people to be hired.
• They cease being EIP (Economically Inactive Population) and become EAP (Economically Active Population)
• More jobs will be created, unemployment will decrease
• Formal employment increases
• The productivity and efficiency of families and the country will increase
• National Gross Domestic Product is generated

It is clear that Telework has been implemented in the country for several years now and is giving excellent results for companies that seek the best results, together with the well-being and safety of their personnel.