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Work yesterday, economy today, when telecommuting reveals the flaws of the management

Expert of the work and its developments, co-founder of New Start, Laëtitia Vitaud alert on teleworking, which reproduces through the classical work. The Covid-

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Work yesterday, economy today, when telecommuting reveals the flaws of the management

Expert of the work and its developments, co-founder of New Start, Laëtitia Vitaud alert on teleworking, which reproduces through the classical work.

The Covid-19 has imposed teleworking in businesses, it is heard. But there is a tendency to talk about this phenomenon so binary : either you can telecommute, or you can't. Yet, the ways of the practice of teleworking are many. At one end, you have employees who replicate at a distance the culture of presenteeism and a lack of autonomy they have known in the office. At the other end, are those who use all the potential of a new organisation of work, with more autonomy and asynchrony.

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The forced conversion to telework because of the confinement is not without recalling the passage from one generation of media to another. In the early days of television, it is just to replicate the same what was already on the radio. The formats were rigid and frozen in time and did very little profit potential in visual new media. But some innovators have been able to free themselves of habits and introduce new ways of doing things.

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telework forced thus reveals the flaws of the work from yesterday in today's economy. The confinement and the imperative of social distancing will lay bare the legacies of a culture of management to be inadequate in the new paradigm. Presenteeism and the "overload collaborative" that the mask became unbearable at a distance. The supervision, control and lack of trust are the cause of the distress in workers at confined. The lack of autonomy due to retrenchment and loss of time.

A culture of presenteeism and supervisory unbearable

It is often with a lot of good will that managers choose to organize too many meetings online. Many have discovered applications such as Zoom (the application the most downloaded since the beginning of the containment) and say that the video communication is the richest possible and therefore should become the mode of interaction by default. Thus, many of the neo-teleworkers are to spend sometimes close to 80% of their time in meetings by a screen.

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But what could be acceptable in the office, with moments of informal exchanges, physical contact, and the coffee, suddenly becomes exhausting at a distance. The Americans speak about "Zoom burnout" or "Zoom fatigue". There is the fatigue of the eyes, of course, the sound conditions degraded, the alienation from his chair and screen, but there is also a fatigue cognitive of these new tools.

The famous Harvard Business Review has devoted an article a few days ago, entitled "How to combat the Zoom fatigue ?". According to the authors, this fatigue "comes from how we treat the information in the video. During a video call, the only way to show that we're mindful of is to look at the camera. But, in real life, how many times you stand less than a metre from a colleague to fix his face ?" It is this "constant look" that we fatigue cognitively.

in addition, the "overload collaborative" that makes us spend so much time to respond to emails and participate in the meetings becomes far too heavy at a distance. At a distance, we realize more that there are many meetings, and loops of mails in which we do not need to be present. This fatigue would be an opportunity to release the presenteeism or tighten the meetings and chains of mails to the persons concerned and relevant data, do not systematically involve n+1 for the sake of respect for the hierarchy, for example ? Would this be the opportunity to realize we should work more asynchronously (at different times, at different rates) ?

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At a distance, the bullshit and bureaucracy make us depressive

The Zoom fatigue is not the only evil from which the neo-teleworkers are experiencing currently. They are many suffer from a feeling of uselessness, linked sometimes to the nature of their employment, to the "why" of their business, but also to the manner in which their work is organised. The phrase "bullshit jobs", the anthropologist David Graeber, known for 2013 a continued success. In a period of crisis of the Covid-19, it is no longer an article about the work that does not evoke this concept. The definition that Graeber gives is interesting because it is focused on the subjective feelings of individuals and the element of falsehood. "A job at the con is a job so pointless, absurd, even pernicious, that even the employee may not justify the existence (...). Those who occupy these jobs within the con are often surrounded by honor and prestige ; they are respected, well paid (...). Yet, they are secretly conscious of not having done anything. "If one knows how to pretend to be "bottom" in the office, we know only how to do this remotely ?

What the sociologist Michel Crozier had already called in 1963 the "bureaucratic phenomenon" gained momentum at the end of the Twentieth century (although we don't talk hardly any more "bureaucracy"). Crozier describes in a scientific way the mechanism of the bureaucracy. He explains that it is based on the formalization extreme of human relations, rules, impersonal, and routines, which were supposed to protect the individuals in conflict, but have led to a dehumanization of work.

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It goes without saying that the bureaucracy at a distance, it is even worse. The hierarchy of large organizations or silos. When one must ask permission to the DSI to use an application, or to accept all of its communications by its n+1, one experiences a feeling of emptiness even greater in the solitude of his home office. Can we still accept all this waste, these political games, these false pretenses ?

Read our complete file

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If the telework forced this exceptional period allows a handing-over in question of the legacies of the scientific organization of work and the large bureaucratic organization, then we will not have lost everything. We will have progressed to invent a new way to work tomorrow.

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