Will teleworking last and traffic jams disappear?
Will teleworking last and traffic jams disappear or at least shrink after corona? American research agency Gartner expects that four out of ten employees will continue to telework after the corona health crisis. The researchers assume that the number of physical meetings will go down from 60 to 25% by 2024. Will this be the case in Belgium too?
At a telecom provider Telenet, for instance, The majority of staff from Telenet will continue to telework for the rest of this year. Other companies prefer a balance between teleworking and commuting.
For 2 600 of the 3 025 Telenet employees, teleworking will be the prevailing standard. Only storeworkers and technicians will continue to commute. The telecom group was the first company to announce the decision during the second wave of the corona health crisis. In May, during the first wave, it was the city of Antwerp that took a similar decision.
In the meantime, Telenet is cutting back the number of individual working places in its offices in Mechelen, Wommelgem, and Zaventem. They will be replaced by about twenty spaces for cooperation. Up to 30 employees are welcome to work or meet there.
This reorganization fits in our vision to give working space a new interpretation, says Ann Caluwaerts, responsible for HR in newspaper De Tijd. “Offices should be meeting places instead of daily working space.” Office buildings will become hotspots for meetings.
The company already stimulated people who gather in the offices for meetings or brainstorms to take a walk,” says Caluwaerts.
Those who can’t or won’t work at home can reserve an individual working spot through an app. This way, Telenet has a clear overview of all occupied working places in its offices. The app will also contribute to contact tracing in case a colleague is infected.
In the US the technology giants Google (118 000 employees), Facebook (48 000), and Twitter (5 000) are the forerunners when it comes to teleworking. Facebook and Twitter even made teleworking permanent for those who wanted it. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the chance is real that half of his employees will work from home in the coming five to ten years.
However, it won’t get that bad in Belgium. Some companies want to have more control, but even they admit that teleworking is here to stay. Other businesses opt for the perfect mix.
No long-term strategy yet
“We strongly believe in a balance between teleworking and commuting,” says Ann Dewaele, responsible for HR from technology group Barco. “Comming to the office provides a closer connection with colleagues and management. It improves people’s involvement and there is a better work-life balance.”
Most companies don’t have a long-term strategy for teleworking yet. They coordinate their strategy on the decisions of the government and virologists, and they wait for the recommendations of the Safety Council.