Home News Confidence and quality of life: what the Dutch can teach us about home…


Confidence and quality of life: what the Dutch can teach us about home…

by Ace Damon

Since mid-March, most Brazilian offices have adopted the remote work system for their employees. This change was a quick response to the Problem of Covid-19, since, without vaccine or medication, only social distancing remains as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.

The transformation in the way of work seems to have pleased several executives – after all, the costs decrease. Now, it is considered to maintain this system even after the pandemic, albeit partially.

Things, however, happened very quickly, and everything was set up in an improvised way. Are Brazilians ready to deal with the home office becoming the rule, not the exception?

The number of professionals working from home in Brazil has grown in recent times. Between 2012 and 2018 (the year of the last survey by IBGE) there was a 44.4% growth in home office membership. At the time, 5.2% of Brazilian workers worked under this regime.

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In the US, the number of home office workers is the same. In the Netherlands, the number is significant: 14.1% of the workers are adept at the home office. There is the Flexible Work Act – and you can learn a lot from it.

The law, which came into force in January 2016, allows the employee to ask his employer for the right to work outside the office. There are only two prerequisites for the order: the company must consist of ten employees or more and the employee must have served in the office for at least six months. The employer may refuse the request, but it is necessary to justify the reason in writing.

But don’t think that after that, I’m supposed to go home and work on your laptop on the kitchen table. The employer is responsible for the employee’s health and, consequently, for his/her work environment. It should guarantee it an exercise chair, office desk, equipment and even a luminaire if the ambient light is not suitable.

In addition, the employer must visit the environment chosen by the employee with a specialist in occupational health and safety to attest that the site complies with the obligations provided by law. If the employee develops a health problem at home, such as repetitive strain injury, the company is liable for the damage.

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In the Netherlands, there are still many coworking spaces – places where multiple people (not necessarily from the same company) work together. In addition, both libraries and some coffee shops are adapted for those who want to escape the office. The only rule of thumb is that the employer can set some security restrictions for those who are not at home, such as banning the use of open Wi-Fi and sharing sensitive data in public.

Yvo Van Doorn, engineer working in Amsterdam, the nation’s capital, explains to the BBC that the Dutch people had a certain advantage in going into confinement. “We are fortunate to be a country where 98% of households have access to high-speed Internet, and the Netherlands has the right combination of technology, culture and approach to make remote work successful,” he says. “I’m judged by my results, not by the fact that I’m sitting at a table nine hours a day.”

Yvo Doorn’s speech refers to the common fear of employers that their employees are not productive at home. But this idea is challenged: working remotely, the person avoids traffic, has more time for the family and can devote himself to other leisure practices, which avoids stress – and can improve their performance.

The trust established between employer and employee avoids some problems, such as “presenteeism”. This is a phenomenon that occurs when the body is there, working, but the mind is not. Some employees are afraid of making a bad impression and feel guilty about not “showing up” to work due to physical or mental problems, which can impair their function. In the Netherlands, this type of event is avoided. At the Dutch company ING Bank, for example, there is an unlimited vacation policy, in which the worker chooses when to take the rest period as long as it does not significantly interfere with his tasks.

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In this policy, of course, there are financial benefits for companies. With fewer employees, smaller headquarters can be leased, reducing expenses with rent, water bills, electricity, cleaning, among others.

A survey by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) indicates that 30% of companies intend to maintain the home office after the pandemic. Nubank, Ajinomoto and several banks have already stated that they should review their work styles. Banco do Brasil, for example, is considering keeping 10,000 of its administrative staff on a mixed basis, working a few days at home and others in the office. This could generate a savings of up to R$ 180 million per year in property expenses between rent and maintenance.

But this issue is not so simple to solve. Despite all these benefits, remote work also has its drawbacks. In a super report, it was shown that the home office can trigger a feeling of loneliness. Workers tend to communicate less with their partners, even disappearing from the digital world. In addition, the lack of face-to-face interaction of the team can cause communication noises, which directly affects employee productivity.

Another downside is the schedules. You have to be very disciplined not to exceed your schedule. When the office and the living room have seen the same place, it is difficult to disconnect from the function. The problem is that then the body charges: a survey conducted in 15 countries showed that 42% of people who practiced home office had insomnia, while the value for those who worked in the office was 29%.

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In the end, it remains to be seen what the future of the post-coronavirus world holds.


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