“Some 30% of French telecommuters are expected to return to the office this week”

On this first week of progressive deconfinement, Sylvain Hasse, Head of Corporate Services at BNP Paribas Real Estate, looked back with Business Immo on the way companies and employees are approaching this new period full of unknowns. Return to the office, generalisation of telecommuting, questioning of open space... What can we expect?

Business immo: BNP Paribas Real Estate published last weekend the second part of the barometer on the French people undergoing the test of confinement, carried out after the Prime Minister's announcements on deconfinement. What conclusions can be drawn from this period of generalisation of telecommuting?

Sylvain Hasse: The first surprise of this part of the survey is the number of employees who consider that after two months of telecommuting experience in very specific conditions, they are now productive. 56% of them feel almost as efficient as at the office or even more, 5 points more than at the beginning of April. This was not a foregone conclusion after such a massive and sudden deployment of telecommuting. Let's remember that it all happened in four days, including the weekend! And then the tools, networks, etc. had to follow, which was not a foregone conclusion on such a scale! But the result is there. And telecommuting has enabled a good number of departments to maintain their activity. Including services that are considered very sedentary or even ineligible for telecommuting.

BI: Beyond the fact that it has proven to be effective, has telecommuting also appealed to employees?

SH: Certainly, those who were already telecommuting found working from home less pleasant than usual, because of the constraints inherent in confinement (housing, schools, etc.). But the vast majority, who had never telecommuted before, appreciated the advantages of this mode of operation. Above all, the absence of transport time, which can weigh heavily in the daily lives of Parisians in particular. As a result, 83% of working people now want to see a massive development of telecommuting, a figure that is true for all categories of employees, including company managers. The latter are 75% to consider it likely.

BI: Do you think a massive spread of telecommuting is possible? And what would be the main consequences?

SH: Let's not forget that we are entering a period of great uncertainty with the deconfinement. Even more so than with containment. And let's also remember that the emergency measures to be taken in the coming weeks should not be confused with a long-term vision. That said, the past weeks will inevitably leave their mark. And companies will have to rethink their work organization to take into account the new aspirations of their employees. Strong signals such as the PSA announcement tend to prove that the lines will move. When PSA decides to make telecommuting the rule, and no longer the exception, the news shakes the certainties of many... It remains to analyse the result of such a decision!

BI: Do you believe in the end of the office, in favour of widespread telecommuting?

SH: For my part, I find PSA's decision ambitious but radical. I am very curious to see if the experiment will work, which of course I wish to this company, the jewel in the crown of our French industry. If spending two days in the office became the norm, it would have many major consequences, including the possibility of redrawing the maps of our territories. Thus, all cities within a radius of 100 to 250 km, or even within an hour by TGV from major metropolises, could become possible places for telecommuters to live... However, the office will always have meaning and usefulness. So I don't believe it will disappear. Neither do I believe in the death of open space, announced here and there during this health crisis. Today we know what well thought-out offices can bring to a company. And facilities such as flex offices have proven their effectiveness. We should not back down on these subjects. Of course, the optimization of real estate costs will continue, with master plans that will surely include an increase in the use of telecommuting. But this is not synonymous with the end of the office!

BI: The office itself... Are the French ready to get back on track?

SH: Between those in a hurry, those who want to stay at home and those who are in between: the population is more or less divided into three equal parts. While the government reminds us that telecommuting is still strongly encouraged over the next three weeks, only three out of ten French people say they are ready to stay at home.


Source: https://www.businessimmo.com/eu/contents/118713/some-30-of-french-telecommuters-are-expected-to-return-to-the-office-this-week


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