Nataly Mayorga: ‘Returning to the office does not have to be mandatory
Nataly Mayorga is an expert in Telework Implementation. Engineer in Business Administration and has an MBA and a master’s degree in Marketing and Advertising Strategies. She is a former national director of Telework in the Ministry of Labor , representative of Ecuador as a telework expert for ITA in Barcelona Spain and representative of Ecuador as a leader for the transformation in Salamanca (Spain).
How did the pandemic change work?
The pandemic changed our lives and that included the way we work. We had to implement our home office and, in addition, deal with the fear of contagion, with the housework, with the children’s homework. Now I am a consultant, but long before the pandemic I was in the Ministry of Labor promoting teleworking. It was a tough task, we went door to door through the companies. Some company presidents told us that teleworking was something they were never going to implement. Few firms joined. But in a pandemic, everyone had to adapt to the rush.
Did the regulations accompany that process?
The Ministry of Labor created Agreement 190 that regulated teleworking in a very detailed way. Advice was obtained from Colombia, Spain, and Costa Rica. Then, in the pandemic, agreement 076 is given, which creates ’emergent’ teleworking, with which people are immediately sent to work from home due to the pandemic , but it does not detail how that telework should take place. In addition to that, there is a reform to 076. For me it is insufficient regulation, it generated disorganization and even abuse of certain companies. The telework is not, you have to follow a process. It must be promoted, but it must be implemented correctly in order to be beneficial to the employer and the worker. The current regulations only give benefits to employers.
Teleworking is born from an agreement between the worker and the employer . That is its nature. But in the current regulation it is said that the employer may choose this modality, that is, only he can make the decision and not the worker. A teleworker who wants to return to the office cannot raise it, since this reversibility depends on the decision of the company. In addition, they besieged us with the issue of disconnection.
What do you mean?
The teleworker is one more worker and his journey can not exceed the limits of 8 hours per day and 40 per week. But the current rule says that the disconnection time must be at least 12 continuous hours in a 24-hour period. That is, in addition to 8 hours, should we be connected and working four more hours? Those hours must be overtime, but that is not spelled out and that explains why people are working all day or receiving tasks from their employers at 11 or 12 at night. That work overloadit is not healthy. This ’emerging’ teleworking should be repealed and a new agreement created where teleworking is actually regulated, in a way that is beneficial to all. The little current regulations that exist have not been widely disseminated either. So the companies have taken the documents and interpreted them as they believed. For this reason, there are shortcomings such as occupational health and safety, which are briefly addressed. What happens if there is an illness or work accident? None of that is said in the current rules and I don’t know how it is going to be dealt with if that is not detailed. That will be a problem. We lose the workers.
What would a correct application look like?
It starts with business commitment ; that is to say, of the highest authority; then come trainings and an X-ray of staff skills to find out who is best suited. Agreement 190, which is now repealed, detailed that occupational health and safety was the obligation of the company and how to guarantee it, that its worker has a good chair, technological tools (…). But then the pandemic came and the worker was practically told: see how you work.
Should the return to the office be mandatory?
No, because we are still in a pandemic; second, not everyone wants to get vaccinated; and, third, we must respect social distancing. On the other hand, it is true that there are people who do not like to telework . So, the return to the office must be voluntary. The evaluation of the way of working must be in charge of the human talent areas of the companies.
The Government argues that the return seeks to reactivate the economy.
The Government seems to have no idea what teleworking is and its benefits when implemented correctly: savings and financial gains for companies. The telecommuters are more productive when they set goals to meet and that payable on the economic recovery pursued. I think this is unknown and that is why they are saying that we all have to go back to face-to-face. There were companies -as I said- that did not believe in teleworking, but then by obligation they experimented with it and saw its benefits. So, teleworking cannot be eliminated, as it is a global trend, what the Government has to do is strengthen it.