Pandemic times: 35% of workers spend more in the home office mode

Note published in Factor Capital Humano, Mundo del Trabajo [The World of Work] Section by Gerardo Hernández.
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Teleworking has become a part of the new normality for many employees during the months of the covid-19 pandemic throughout the world. And, contrary to those who say that this modality translates into savings for employees, 35% of workers say that working from home has increased their costs.

According to the OCC World Labor Thermometer, this impact to the economy “is due to the increase in the consumption of basic products or services such as water, gas, electricity, food, as well as employment related expenses: internet, furniture, specialized tools, among others.” For at least three out of ten workers, the home office mode has had a negative impact on their pockets.

The reality is that only a few companies have invested in providing support to their workers in regard to expenses in this new modality, reveals the Willis Towers Watson Firm. According to a survey conducted among 143 organizations with more than 514,000 employees in total, while 57% of the companies implemented teleworking, only 9% provides financial support to employees that work from home through some kind of subsidy.

“They are very few companies, the percentage of companies that are subsidizing this type of expenses does not even reach 10%. The truth is that it is a subsidy that is being given in a very small measure in the market”, explained Gabriel Chipoco, Data Director at Willis Towers Watson México.

Even though the home office mode may have a positive connotation due to the flexibility that accompanies it, the other side of the coin may be the expenses that must be made by collaborators on digital tools and internet or telephone services, because some companies cease to invest in these services.

“The positive aspects that I see, from the corporate point of view, is that there will be an optimization of spaces and savings. However, if we look at the other side of this, something that may have not been pointed out by many people is that the infrastructure that the company used to have, the services that it used to pay are now having to be paid by the employee himself and his expenses on internet, telephone, services in general will start to skyrocket because he is being burdened with these expenses”, explains Fernando Coronado, founding partner of Innovative Marketing & Consultants.

And, while there are people who have migrated to teleworking because of the confinement and the modality has had a negative effect on their pockets, companies have not only avoided providing financial support, but have also cut salaries because of the pandemic. These actions, pointed out Ricardo Martínez, founding partner of the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm, have been taken as a measure to preserve sources of work during the health emergency.

The Willis Towers Watson survey confirms this tendency: 22% of companies in Mexico have already resorted to wage cuts and another 10% includes them among possible alternatives for the rest of the year.

Mandatory work from home policies are being widely used.

1 out of every 3 companies are using divided team agreements and many more are considering this possibility.

Please state which measures have been taken by your company in response to COVID-19 and what you may be planning to do or are taking into consideration for the remainder of 2020.

Mandatory work from home for the majority of employees

Alternating work teams at the office or divided team agreements

Reducing the labor week

Mandatory closing

Providing subsidies to employees to compensate remote labor costs (For example, the cost of equipment, Internet access, other services)

Changing the site at which some processes are conducted, in order to reduce risks to the supply chain (for example, repatriating processes, diversifying locations)

Actions taken       Planned Actions    Actions being considered     No action planned or being considered        Not sure

Note: the “Not applicable” option has been excluded. Percentages may not add up to 100% because of number rounding.

Source: COVID-19: Impact on businesses and benefits. Latin America survey (June, 2020).