- Elisabeth Borne visited the headquarters of three French groups this Friday to take stock of teleworking.
- Some companies are reluctant to apply the “100% telework” instruction for the trades which lend themselves to it.
- The minister threatened possible sanctions in the event of non-compliance with the government’s recommendations.
Teleworking is health. This is the message that Elisabeth Borne wanted to convey this Friday. The Minister of Labor went to the headquarters of several large French companies, to provide an update on the government’s recommendations. After having hesitated for a long time, the doctrine of the executive is now based on “100% teleworking” for all jobs that do not require an on-site presence. Obviously, the message struggled to get into some offices.
So, Release revealed last week a memo from Total addressed to its employees. The oil group recommended there “face-to-face work up to two days a week (…) because certain activities require teamwork, and in order to preserve social ties”. Faced with protests, especially union protests, the group’s management pleaded “the wrong interpretation”. She has since clarified that teleworking was “the rule” and that employees could come on a voluntary basis. Another group pinned: BNP Paribas. In The echoes, a union official of the company explained on Wednesday that “the bank [avait] expressed the wish that employees go one to two days a week in the head offices ”. What to scramble the government message.
“It’s good, it seems empty”
It is therefore no coincidence that Elisabeth Borne chose to visit these two companies this Friday, with the added bonus of a small detour via the Engie Tower, located in La Défense, near Paris. Accompanied by some media, including 20 Minutes, the minister strolled in the open spaces deserted by the employees and distributed the good points. “It’s good, it seems empty” she thus launched to the managers of BNP Paribas, contemplating their trading room in the Opera district (2nd arrondissement of Paris), where a few very rare employees – “essential” according to the direction – were installed.
A little later, in Engie’s tower, she approaches an almost alone employee on the 23rd floor of a huge building: “Are you okay, are you not embarrassed to work?” “. Each time, the managers of the company visited do not hesitate to proudly display their percentages of employees working from home, just to show their goodwill on the subject. Engie thus indicates that only 80 employees are present in the tower, or 2% of the usual workforce. At Total, we explain that 80% of Defense employees were teleworking this week, and even 92% this Friday, at the time of the ministerial trip.
Loneliness and social bond
At the end of her inspection, the Minister takes stock: “The messages have gone well. It was important to make all managers and HRDs aware of the need to go all out on teleworking. “And to warn any recalcitrant:” If ever some companies have not understood, it will be our role to continue to advise, to continue to support, but also to control, and if it does not go, to put in default and to have sanctions ”.
However, this “100% telework” discourse is not necessarily well received by all employees. “Our premises remain open because we wanted to keep a valve for employees who needed to come for personal reasons,” explains Claire Waysand, Interim Managing Director of Engie. Some people may feel lonely while working from home or not have optimal conditions, for example in a small apartment ”.
Other companies have also perceived the risk for employees to be completely physically cut off from their desks, and have launched investigations or set up psychological support lines. “It can be difficult to be teleworking in a studio”, concedes Elisabeth Borne. But “everyone must understand that in the period we are going through, we are asking to go fully into what we can do by teleworking. It is for a limited period ”. Containment is in fact scheduled until December 1, but it could be extended by a few weeks, further extending this “effort”. The question of social ties within companies will then risk being very quickly rested.