Remote working: countries avoiding the post-COVID work trend and why

Remote working: countries avoiding the post-COVID work trend and why

Two years ago, the COVID-19 health crisis triggered a surge in remote working as most countries had to follow strict security measures to keep businesses going.

But now that most of these measures have been lifted and life has returned to “normal,” many companies are still transferring their once-in-office roles to completely or partially remote ones.

A recent studies from the job site Indeed found that the number of global job postings with a remote component has soared since the start of the pandemic, nearly tripling from an average of just 2.5% in January 2020 to nearly 7, 5% in September 2021.

Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries showing the largest increases and the United States is no stranger to this trend.

Remote opportunities have gone from less than 4% of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to around 9% at the end of 2020 and over 15% in North America today.

Job site data scientists Ladders believe remote work is here to stay, with a full quarter of all professional jobs set to be available remotely by the end of the year.

“This shift in labor arrangements is impossible to overstate. As big as it is, it is also bigger than people think,” said Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders.

“Hiring practices typically move at a glacial pace, but the pandemic has increased the heat, so we’re seeing a rapid wave of change in this space. It’s pretty amazing indeed.”

But while much of the world appears to be rapidly embracing remote and hybrid work, some countries have not yet adapted to the idea; for cultural, legal or technical reasons.

Czech Republic: Legal uncertainty about the status of distance workers

Although remote working is becoming common in most Western European countries, the flexible method has not been fully accepted by Czechs, especially employers, despite the country being as technologically equipped as its peers.

The reason is quite simple: the Czech Republic is struggling to give adequate status to remote workers and the law does not specify whether a remote worker is a normal employee or not, so companies prefer to avoid remote work given the uncertainty. legal.

The Czech Republic is the only country that has never given a legal status to remote workers, and although the government is starting to argue to legislate on their status following the impulses of the younger generations who are asking for a changenot much progress has been made so far.

According to an Ipsos survey, 51% of Czech employees surveyed were interested in permanent remote work and 59% in part-distance work.

France: the bad student of Europe

Meanwhile, France stands out as Europe’s underperforming student, second a study conducted jointly by Ifop and the Jean Jaurès foundationonly 34% of the French worked regularly remotely during the pandemic, while it was implemented by 61% of Germans, 56% of Italians and 50% of British.

The time the French worked remotely was also shorter than that of their European neighbors: 11% of them worked from home four or five days a week, compared to 30% of Italians.

These low figures can be explained by the large disparity between top management – most of whom can work remotely – and other socio-professional categories, who largely continue to go to the workplace.

Age was also another factor in these disparities in France, with older workers less comfortable with digital technology than the “digital natives” generation.

The French are known for their reluctance to change, so that may not change anytime soon. Furthermore, the culture of “presentism” – the practice of being present in the office despite illness – is still deeply rooted in the minds of the older generation.

When asked if they would like more or fewer days of remote work, the French respondents said they would like fewer days of teleworking than their European neighbors.

Researchers believe that this low demand is a result of social interactions being a key tool for decision making in the French office, but also a form of resignation among many French workers who believe remote working conditions are not accessible to them.

Japan: a strong culture of “presentism”

Japan, just like France, is another country that has been plagued by the culture of Presentialism.

Many Japanese fear a lack of career progression if they don’t work long hours in the office, and forcing these workers to go to remote work because of the health crisis has proved a disaster.

While most employees say working from home made them more efficient than they were in the office, Japanese employees have become less productive by an average of 20 percent, according to a 2020 study by economist Toshihiro Okubo.

Japan also has a highly social work structure, which makes it a poor candidate for remote work as employees prefer to work in teams and do group assessments, while overseas employees are generally assigned unique responsibilities and are evaluated. individually.

Mentoring and dialogue are two core values ​​of the Japanese work system, with senior employees supervising younger peers and informal coffee machine conversations reinforcing contact within teams, something that simply didn’t work in an environment. remote.

Lack of access to personal computers was another reason that made the transition to remote work very difficult for Japanese workers; the nation has one of the lowest rates for accessing personal computers according to the OECD.

Furthermore, home offices are much less common than in the West due to the small size of the average apartment in the city and the prices of larger homes in Japan’s highly urbanized society.

China: a difficult transition

While China was the first country to use remote work as it was the first country to deal with the coronavirus, the transition was still relatively difficult for the Chinese workforce.

At the moment, 40% of Chinese workers were forced to work from home, compared to only 7% of employees who had been allowed until then – a rather unexpected cultural change for a country very attached to presidentialism and hierarchies, according to the consulting firm Bloomberg.

However, once the country began blocking key affected regions, the use of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, location tracking, facial recognition, and so on, skyrocketed to contain the spread. of the outbreak and some companies have begun to maintain a solid understanding of their employees, even remotely.

Employees had to check in with their bosses every morning to tell them where they were and if they had symptoms of the virus.

Chinese Communist history could also explain the difficulty for Chinese people to adopt remote work, as employees are forced to negotiate agreements collectively.

But despite the country’s strong collectivist culture, the new habits developed during the pandemic are slowly growing among Chinese workers and further development could be seen in the coming years.

High-speed broadband access in developing countries

For many countries, the pandemic has highlighted the irregularity of digital access, another obstacle to the successful transition to hybrid forms of work.

Unsurprisingly, developing countries are the most vulnerable, but many have taken positions that run counter to their internet resilience.

For instance, Mexico and Brazil are more resilient to the internet than Indonesia or Indiaaccording to economic advisors Bhaskar Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi.

Angola also stood out as the least remote-working country in the world, with only 0.70 out of 100 people in the country having landline broadband access in 2020, compared to 36.41 in the US. , according to the World Bank.

The number of remote workers in the country this year remains difficult to estimate, as few figures have been communicated to the International Labor Organization (ILO) by government institutions.

Overall, most countries around the world have experienced an undeniable shift in the ability to do work beyond the confines of a traditional office, with many employees now equipped to log in from home after learning how to do it during the height of the pandemic. .

Companies are now exploring the pros and cons of remote and hybrid working, picking and choosing which aspects fit the particularities of their unique cultures.

So while some countries like France, Japan or China may have been slower to adapt to remote working than the US or UK, hybrid and remote trends are here to stay, but so are the joys of chatting. with colleagues in the office.

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