On April 1, Law 27,555 that regulates teleworking in Argentina came into force after several months of debate, business rejections, union demands and workers’ welcome. New rights and obligations will generate adaptations, frictions and impact on the national economy. Is it all loss for companies or can they profit? And in that case, what can they win? Against whom? Let’s see.
The global trend of distance work is not new and its implementation has been surveyed and measured for years in forums, business meetings and international organizations such as the ILO, the European Commission and the IDB, among others. Product of technological changes and the nerve center of the knowledge economy, teleworking is a reality installed in many industries (the newest) and in not a few countries of the first world; but even in Argentina it is a widespread modality that maximized its visibility, pandemic through. In a matter of weeks, companies had to adapt, with the costs that this entailed. From the work of the future to how we adapt today, nonstop.
Low satisfaction with intercompany regulation reached almost 60% in Argentina, according to studies conducted by PwC in August 2020 when the law was passed in Congress. The next battle was for the regulation of the National Executive, published in the BORA via decree 27/2021. Reversibility, transnational benefits, registration requirements before national authorities, working hours, employee control, compensation of expenses; These are just some of the crucial points that suggest more money that companies should allocate, in a complicated context for the national economy and its returns.
This is as true as that less than 10% of companies indicate that they will not continue teleworking once the health emergency of the pandemic is over. Ergo, something must be done to obtain return on investment, beyond complying with the rules.
There are some debates that will come to light sooner or later, such as: is it paid the same salary / salary for home office as for face-to-face work? How is presenteeism measured? What happens with ART ?, and with union representation? Do oligopolies or activity monopolies favor teleworking, as happens with Google among web search engines? There are many unknowns and few accurate predictions that we can make today. But there is one thing that is clear: whoever does not adapt quickly and take advantage of the situation, will be at a disadvantage compared to their competitors. Now, how to take advantage of a situation forced by the pandemic, not self-regulated by the companies or previously budgeted? The answer is: through good public affairs management that values the transformation before its key audiences, clients included.
If the expenses that the companies will incur are not elusive, what they should do -at least- is try to recover as much as possible or even become the leaders of the nascent categories that arise from the changes imposed by the new reality. The history of markets and industries is full of examples of transformation, whose leaders have grown to the point of creating new categories or rebalancing markets: Netflix vs Blockbuster; digital cameras vs Kodak; clean energy vs. pollutants; platform-proximity economies vs large-scale economies; etc.
After the reign of the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Luxembourg (Eurostats 2018), as countries with the world’s highest percentage of employed in teleworking pre-covid19; adaptation is inexorable. The change is now and it has the good eyes of the workers who, when well assisted, quickly become diffusers of how great a place to work is where they work; also from shareholders and even investors, always with expectations of high returns on their assets. It is not just a matter for regulators and controllers, to whom, by the way, will also have to be held accountable.
Apparently, companies must add counting to value the productive improvements of the transformation they are carrying out. More than as a regulatory adjustment, they must face it as an adaptation to the future; forced, it is true, but faced with the inevitable, they must review each modification in their production system to generate micro-narratives and give the best possible adaptation sample.
The pandemic will be with us for a while longer and the stressed labor and organizational costs have to be faced with creative investments and while the changes are beginning. Nobody is congratulated for finishing second. The revision of labor schemes is the only door to the world to come, which has already left the industrial societies of the twentieth century behind the door, which can contribute little more in times of pandemic and technological acceleration.