Most companies say they are considering extending teleworking after the crisis, without having defined a precise rule for the moment. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Adopted at full speed during the health crisis, partial teleworking should become widespread, even after covid-19, according to companies. From banking to personal services, all say they are concerned by the issue.
Many are familiar with telework due to coronavirus, after it was implemented 100% during lockdown then at 50% to keep safe distances in the office. But what will happen in companies once the virus is completely gone?
"There will inevitably be a before and after covid,” according to Armand Lebrun, partner at Vanksen, a Luxembourg communications agency which employs 90 people.
Today employees alternate between office and telecommuting. "There are no hard and fast rules," he says. Employees organise themselves according to their plans with customers to decide whether a physical presence is necessary or not. The only constraint: no more than 25 people can be present at the same time. For better monitoring, the company has established an attendance schedule.
After the crisis, "we’re moving towards a certain sustainability of this system", says Lebrun. It makes it possible to "align with the way customers operate" and preserve the quality of life of employees, for a company that highlights its "flexible DNA".
More teleworking in the financial sector
"We believe that teleworking is a practice that will in principle remain in a balanced face-to-face/teleworking mix, but its application will depend a lot on the evolution of taxation for cross-border commuters," according to accounting firm PwC. “It is not possible today to establish post-crisis rules. Teleworking is not a right, per se, it is a practice that depends on the operational needs of the company and the teams. A priori, the authorisation to telework is done by the team leaders according to the need for face-to-face and operations."
Currently the company is reverting to a 40% office occupancy rate, with a maximum of two days of presence per week per person.
BGL BNP Paribas did not wish to speak to the press before the publication of its results. The bank told Paperjam in an article published over the summer that “after the crisis, we will maintain teleworking, but in a more structured form. In principle, the rule is simple: what is not prohibited by the forthcoming directives of our supervisory authority (the CSSF) and what does not put the company at risk of requalification as a permanent establishment abroad will be teleworkable.” In a Live Chat this week, David Capocci, partner at KPMG Luxembourg, also said that teleworking should be developed after the crisis.
All sectors are concerned
At Sodexo, even if only around 100 of the 2,300 employees can work from home, this represents a real option. The service company since 1 January 2020 offers remote working to most administrative staff (except certain positions, such as receptionist) for one day a week, respecting tax ceilings for cross-border commuters (19 days for Germans, 24 for Belgians, 29 for French).
Today "the teams rotate, we have remained at a capacity of 50%,” says Ann De Jonghe, human resources director. She finds it difficult to project herself into the post-covid period but believes that she will at least return to the same rule as before the pandemic. "One thing is certain, the crisis will have taught those resistant that teleworking works."
This period will also leave its mark at Servior: "These are discussions which are being conducted. We are going to give more possibilities for teleworking, that’s clear," says the manager of accommodation facilities for the elderly. This concerns around 80 people out of the 2,030 employees. The company was working on a work flexibility scheme (hours, location, etc.) prior to the crisis. For precise details, however, "it’s still too early to say".
The 40 employees of the administrative teams, out of 1,900 in total, who can work remotely at Elisabeth are all back in the office today. "In light of the positive experiences of the vast majority of employees, the general management is considering guidelines for establishing a policy related to the regular use of telework", the organisation says.
The companies therefore seem to agree on the subject. It remains to be seen whether they will keep their promises once the pandemic has passed.
This article was originally published in French on Paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.