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Understanding the New Normal of Working

By Javier Campos

Like it or not, the world decided to change without our consent and has generated countless restrictions on which our lives may depend. Among the possible solutions is the home office. Dare to adopt it in your organization.

Even though the home office is a practice with many years of life around the world, in Latin America there has been some resistance to adopt it, although some countries are slowly giving way to change.

In times like the one we live in, clearly the trend of this practice will be on the rise, as the need will urge us to work from home as a preventive measure in the face of the current pandemic. It is precisely now that the difficulty or resistance to this or other models becomes evident –which we will have no choice but to adopt–, although it is interesting to ask ourselves: why has our region not wanted to join this format since it was created in the decade of the eighties of the last century? Why has the home office been difficult to apply? What do we understand by the home office? And where is the gene for resistance to this and other changes?

It is when the expansion of digital platforms arises that little by little, especially the companies dedicated to this area, they realize that working from home, or what we commonly call home office can be an alternative to generate more productivity and savings in physical spaces, transfers, etc.

Some countries began to use this type of practice very quickly and others, for some strange reason, tried to postpone the effectiveness of the home office for many years. In the case of Mexico, for 2007 there was still talk of the possibility that “one day” this way of working would materialize, however, in general, there is mistrust on the part of companies around this work format, especially if they are not communication and / or systems.

Home Office Benefits

If we look at the figures, we understand that remote work is extremely convenient and in times like this of global quarantine, remote activities become a necessity. Furthermore, it has been shown that teleworking implies that 23% of workers who work from home increase their productivity, that absenteeism decreases by 19%, and that rotation decreases by 40%.

In fact, it is considered that 50% of the world’s workers will be doing home office this year, so, although Mexico is in third place behind Argentina and Chile in the practice of remote work, it is necessary to remember the qualities of working in the house and certain issues that are of importance in this practice.

As a worker, you don’t have to be afraid of change. Working from home involves some changes, but all of them are worth it as we have explained, for different reasons, and it is time to get down to business. To make a home office as productive as possible the following is recommended:

  1. It is necessary first to try to have an alternate space in the same house, it is recommended that you always work in a different place to the designated space to rest.
  2. The best thing is to try to do the normal routine, that is, wake up at the time we do it every day and follow the same routine, even if the next step is to sit in front of the computer.
  3. Another great tips from specialists are to not stop socializing with co-workers even online, it is a good way to feel “inside” the work routine. It is also useful to take short breaks during the day and try to stop at the indicated time.

Where Do the Paradigms Come From?

Returning to the issue of resistance that has occurred in the Latin American region, it would be interesting to try to change our paradigms by knowing a little about our own history, which is where we may find an answer to this way we have to understand work and therefore a number of ideas about it that have been preserved for centuries.

If we review the history of work, we would find several questions that we could think about before having this common resistance to the different ways of carrying out it according to the time and thus try to reform our own conclusions and reach more thoughtful decisions.

The need to work is born with the need to gather and hunt to obtain food; When human beings become sedentary, they start the production of their own food, that is when agriculture, commerce and livestock are born. This leads the human being to generate slavery, that is, work in exchange for freedom.

Then comes feudalism, which is a totally rural economy in which slaves become serfs. With modernity comes the industrial revolution and with it the automation of work, through which a few hours of work are exchanged for a minimum wage and the unions that were created for the defence of the worker appeared.

This is how several industrial revolutions have passed. The most up-to-date (clearly, no longer) has certain needs in the more developed countries since pay for work and worker rights are filtered and monitored by international consensus. However, it happens in emerging economies, customs change and generate milestones that have ceased to be studied and in which it would be worth doing some type of deeper investigation.

In the case of China for example, even though it is the second most important economy in the world, from the first 10 years of this century it was questioned in many ways whether the way of working of manufacturing in this country could be considered a kind of “modern slavery”.

Imminent Change

The years have passed, and the questions are those and others. Attention has been drawn to them and world organizations have tried to gradually change this format so entrenched in that country.

At the same time, suddenly it happens that the world decides to change with or without our consent, a pandemic like the one we are experiencing arises, generating countless restrictions on which our life can depend, and among the possible solutions are those that many countries have put to consideration for fear of a change in the way of working in

The remote work option is concentrated in 50% of the world’s workers, and resorting to this type of operation, which, as we have described, was used by companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM, etc., in the eighties. it cannot continue to be seen as a weakness, a “no way” or a “just this once” matter.

The future is demanding other ways of understanding the workplace and we cannot continue to postpone the safest and most effective practices to continue producing in difficult times like this.

As in the case of China, where the overcrowding of workers under surveillance with control to go to the bathroom or eat, is a practice that goes back to the times of empire and feudalism, in Latin America we could wonder if it is not the practice of the feudal lord, so common in the New Spain world that many even called it “tata”, an imposed idea that we have that the worker should be watched “closely”, or “guided”, because he may always need us.

Couldn’t it be that this vigilance, this extreme need for attention is a form of control inherited from some past that we are not even capable of observing?

“In the eye of the master the horse fattens,” says a very old Mexican sentence that will surely have its reproduction in all Latin American countries. But if the horse gets sick, we better take turns caring for it.

These are difficult moments; isolation will already be difficult to reconcile in our cultures that include social life in their days. Let only those be our concerns and enter the future at once as history is demanding; Let us work from home with the same responsibility that we have when going to our offices and as leaders, we are able to understand that these are not times of doubt but of concern for our own: our workers, our associates, our colleagues, our buyers, producers and every one and each of the members of the production chain.

This is our way of saving lives today, doing what is necessary without putting ideas from another time that is no longer the present and that only make us lose opportunities in a world that has already changed.

Javier Campos is Vice President, Latin America at Wadhwani Foundation

Source: Entrepreneur

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