Remote Jobs, the new blue collar/white collar divide?

Jul 5, 2022

Possible for 85% of executives, remote jobs exclude workers. How to prevent the gap between white-collars and blue-collars from growing?

The societal issue of remote jobs is imperative to consider. Possible for 85% of executives and professionals, remote work puts aside all the workers. How can we prevent the gap between white and blue collar workers from growing even wider?

If there are any who still doubt it, two recent studies should put an end to the debate. Yes, the future of work will indeed be flexible and hybrid. A conclusion reached by both Capgemini and the Boston Consulting Group.

And if confirmation was needed, let's turn to the comprehensive document just published by Capgemini. It confirms the huge transformation resulting from the Covid-19 crisis. To conduct the survey, the consultancy surveyed 500 organizations and 5,000 employees from all sectors, while at the same time conducting interviews with numerous academics and business leaders.

Remote Jobs, a growing acceptance

The results show that demand and acceptance of telework as an essential organizational model is shared by both employees and company management.

Remote jobs are, as we know, favored by the former. For employees, remote work brings more flexibility, less physical fatigue, improved well-being and health, and greater efficiency in the workplace (Baromètre Télétravail 2022 du Comptoir de la nouvelle entreprise de Malakoff Humanis).

What the Capgemini survey shows is that the level of acceptance of telework is growing among managers themselves. According to the study, ¾ of them now expect at least 30% of their employees to work remotely, a ratio that even reaches 70% for ¼ of the managers surveyed.

The latter have clearly understood this. In a context where the recruitment market is under strong pressure and the war for talent is raging, companies must meet new expectations in terms of flexibility in order to recruit and retain the best talents. Studies conducted by BCG show that 80% of candidates expect more flexibility in the workplace and 46% expect more flexibility in working hours. This is a cross-cutting demand that concerns practically all job categories.

Those excluded from remote jobs

As we know, not all tasks are eligible to remote jobs. This was clearly seen during the lock-in(s). Cashiers, maintenance workers, delivery people, truck drivers, production line workers had to continue working on site. For the latter, the remote jobs revolution did not take place. According to the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques, teleworking is possible for 85% of managers and professionals. This proportion drops to 48% for qualified employees. And it is close to zero for blue-collar workers, qualified or not.

But the issue of telework (and work in general) is not only organizational. Its social and societal ramifications are central. Quoted by ” L'Usine Nouvelle” (16/11/2021), Patricia Gabriel, HR Director for Western Europe at KSB, a German valve and pump group with 1,100 employees and four factories in France, said that "the challenge is not to widen the divide between blue and white collar workers.

One answer: more flexibility for all

How can this be achieved? If remote working cannot be practiced by everyone, there is a common denominator: the demand for flexibility. If this demand cannot be met by remote jobs, other answers must be found. It will be necessary to build new social policies.

Caroline Elbaz, HR Director of Oracle France (quoted on the FocusRH website on 13/04/2021), says the same thing. To fight against inequalities, it will be essential to provide adequate answers to those excluded from telework. "This will involve, for example, adapting their working hours and offering them compensatory days off to make up for certain inequalities," she insists. This is a way of affirming that flexibility is the foundation on which the proposed solutions must be based.

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