3 challenges organizations are facing in the implementation of NOM 037

Note published on August 1 in  MIT Sloan Management Review Mexico, Destacadas [Highlights] Section by Elizabeth Vargas.
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This standard will provide legal support for teleworkers, but companies must  make an effort to create an environment that is conductive to complying with the law.

The COVID-19 pandemic popularized remote work. During this time, however, some employers avoided regulating teleworking.

The upcoming NOM037, which will enter into force during the first semester of 2023 will place those leaders that do not make significant changes in their companies in face of this labor modality in a tight spot.

Specialists explain the three main challenges that companies will have to face to prepare for and comply with this regulation:

  1. Designing a teleworking policy

Teleworking policies are those that include guidelines, forms of communication and instructions for collaborators to perform their duties correctly in the remote mode.

The lack of this type of policies, however, was a constant that persisted in organizations. For example, KPMG, a global business consultancy firm, reported that, up to one year ago, 49% of all teleworkers answered messages or calls outside of their working hours.

The right to disconnection is a part of the key points in a teleworking policy and, therefore, these results obtained in 2021 reflect the low attention paid by leaders to the development of guidelines for this group.

“One of the main challenges for companies will be to prepare the teleworking regulation policies because very few organizations in the country prepared regulations”, points out Ivonne Vargas, representative for Latin America of  the Board Workforce Institute.

  1. Review the profiles of teleworkers

For Jimena Sánchez, partner at the De La Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm, another challenge for corporations will be to carefully review which people have the profile to work remotely and confirming if their company’s funds are sufficient to meet the needs of these collaborators.

The Central Bank of Mexico, in a study conducted in 2021, determined that only 10.6% of  all jobs in the country could be performed from home, using the 468 occupations classified by the National Occupation Classification System (SINCO) as a reference.

In addition to identifying the right profiles, employers will have to support their employees by providing the proper furniture for caring for their health. This means that the company must make an initial investment of 2,500 pesos for each employee, which is the average cost of an ergonomic chair.

Operating expenses are another key point that companies must take into account. A study conducted by Mercer, an asset management company, showed that, after the pandemic, organizations must give each worker 192.50 per month as support for internet payments.

  1. Training all collaborators that will be working in this modality

Alejandro Avilés, president of the Labor Lawyers Association of Mexico City, adds that personnel training to meet the requirements of the Federal Labor Law and the NOM037 is another challenge.

At the end of 2021, research conducted by the Asociación de Internet MX proved that only one third of all employees had received training on digital tools during the pandemic.

This result shows that companies must redouble their efforts for providing their collaborators with knowledge about the digital tools that they can use.

This new standard will create important changes that must be implemented from the ground up in companies because, should they fail to do so, there could be significant consequences.

Sánchez states that penalties will vary depending on the intentional nature of the offender, the seriousness of the offense, the damage that was caused, the economic capacity of the company and the rate of recidivism. Thus, fines could go from 250 to thousands of units of measure and update (UMAs).

Expectations for organizations, can the labor market improve?

The partner at the De La Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm recalled the case of a company that, at the end of August 2020, instituted a golden rule for teleworking: Not making video calls between 9:00 and 14:00 hours, with the objective of providing support to the children of their collaborators.

“Management knew that, during those hours, the collaborators’ children would have to be in class via video call. Through this little rule, the company showed its flexibility to its collaborators”, she added.

This flexibility will be one of the greatest advantages that teleworkers can obtain, as they will have to communicate their main needs to the company and thus, reach relevant working agreements.

In the opinion of Vargas, the labor market can definitively improve through the application of this regulation, as it will force companies, in addition to measuring their accomplishments, to self-evaluate in questions of ethics and integrity.

“This initiative will cause companies to question their evaluation and transparency culture”, Vargas clarifies.

The president of the Bar Association explains that this law will provide the teleworker with a supporting legal framework; additionally, organizations will be able to save funds, as companies will know which activities have to be conducted at the office and which ones do not.

According to Alejandro Avilés Gómez, working remotely will also entail significant savings in time and money for the employees. “They will save transportation time, fares and they will be able to participate in more family responsibilities.”