STORY INLINE POST
In March 2024, it will be four years since the world experienced the health crisis and with it, life was transformed, including employment.
The labor market experienced several changes, starting with the way in which employees were able to continue with their work responsibilities. Thanks to technology, remote work saw an unprecedented boost, allowing the dynamism within companies to continue.
Let us remember that isolation caused a profound reduction in the consumption of products and services, causing layoffs and the closure of many businesses; however, the companies that coped and remained in the market faced the transformation and implemented strategies to survive, prioritizing the health of employees and putting them at the center of their business decisions.
Remote work was adopted by the majority of organizations and gradually, during this time, the hybrid work modality gained strength, in which some employees were allowed to return to work in person in a staggered manner, by schedules and by days. By the beginning of 2023, the physical return to offices began to take its course, with acknowledgement that the hybrid modality had proved to have many advantages beyond protecting associates from infections.
Given this transformation of the labor market, we undertook the task of conducting a study, which we presented in August, to understand both the perspective of workers and companies on the work models that currently remain, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of remote work. In addition, we analyzed other factors related to well-being in employment, such as the management of work stress, disconnection and labor flexibility.
Eight out of 10 of the professionals who participated in the study said they work under the in-office model, 12% work under the hybrid model (some days from home and others in the office) and only 5% work remotely. On the companies' side, 63% work under the in-office model, another 35% under the hybrid model, and only 7% used remote work.
In this period of time, there have been different discussions related to the workload and productivity of associates in remote and hybrid work. In this regard, half of those who work from home consider that their workload is moderate, their stress level is normal and their productivity level is high or extremely high.
In any case, within organizations, we must continue designing strategies for the well-being of employees, who are our main driving force, since 7 out of 10 employees stated in the study that they had suffered work stress in the last three years, presenting physical discomfort, such as headaches, exhaustion, and mental or emotional health problems, including anxiety, lack of motivation, and irritability.
It should be noted that almost half of the people surveyed perceived greater stress today compared to when the pandemic began and said that their companies do not take actions to mitigate it, so they seek rest and relaxation. In this regard, the actions companies can take are clear: prioritize emotional salary in HR strategies, identify risk factors and maintain effective communication with their associates.
What is clear is that disruptions always bring advantages and disadvantages. Speaking of remote work, there are clear divergences between employees and employers. Among the most relevant advantages, according to workers, is saving time and money on transportation, in addition to enjoying a greater balance between their work and personal life. The disadvantages after having experienced this form of work are the lack of social coexistence and collaboration and working longer hours without additional remuneration.
Regarding the opinion of companies through their HR representatives, regarding the advantages of offering remote work as a benefit,work flexibility, resource savings and increased employee well-being stand out; among the disadvantages are the differences that are being marked between in-office and remote workers, the lack of necessary tools to work remotely and finally, the difficulty of communication and collaboration between teams.
In this way, we can see that many organizations are looking for professional and social interaction in their companies to return to their offices; however, hybrid work is already a reality due to its clear advantages for both the company and its associates. Nevertheless, it implies obligations for companies — and some are not prepared to comply with them.
The issue of remote workers becomes even more relevant since, in December of this year, the standard NOM-037 from the federal government will come into force with the purpose of establishing the safety and health conditions applicable to employees who are effectively teleworking, in order to prevent accidents and illnesses, as well as to promote a safe and healthy environment in the work environment.
The above has generated various discussions in the workplace. According to a survey we conducted, 41% of participants believe that this rule will boost working remotely, while 37% think that it could reduce teleworking due to the additional obligations imposed on employers, which could generate additional costs.
As a result, the five-year expectation for companies, according to our study, is that the hybrid work model will prevail, followed by the in-office modality; regarding the preference of employees, it is toward the hybrid model (49%). However, those who do not have a job would prefer a completely in-office scheme.
Thus, many organizations will promote in-office work starting in 2024 to avoid this rule that forces them to comply with key actions for the well-being of remote workers, taking care of psychosocial risk factors and providing them with the necessary tools to adequately perform their responsibilities. But let's not forget that this NOM not only seeks to benefit employees but also employers by putting on paper clear rules regarding commitments and obligations of associates.
HR leaders and teams must not forget that the well-being of our work team is a priority because we depend on them to have prosperous and successful organizations. It is true that we have resource management pressures to comply with the new legislation; however, the return on investment will be realized in the short term because, by looking after our employees and keeping them motivated, we will avoid incurring higher costs due to lack of productivity, resignations and high turnover rates.
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