COVID-19 accelerated a major shift in working relations with new and elaborate definitions and notions such as smart working. Smart working stands for an employment relationship agreed between the parties, organised through phases, cycles and goals and without any schedule or place constraints, with the possibility of using technological tools to work. In its essence it resembles very much already existing Anglo-Saxon start-up and tech employment world, muted labour protection and rights with easy access and very easy exit (voluntary or otherwise).
After the pandemic, we have seen a sub-category of this concept widely in continental Europe with varied names, remote working, home-working, télé-travail. Thus far, we have generally experienced the part where “without place constraints” and “the possibility of using technological tools to work”. All the major studies in all developed countries point to the same direction conveying the same message; The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? – Microsoft World Trend Index 2021. According to this report, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options. Similar reports also state a positive impact on efficiency and quality from the viewpoint of employees. This all seems and reads very positively. Are we refusing, however, to acknowledge the negatives and risks?
I would like to cite the worrying new mantra: if you can do your job from anywhere, someone anywhere can do your job. With the exponential growth of technological advances, this is now especially true for financial industry with all the related corporate structures and information services. I wonder whether well-paid white collar jobs with substantial social benefitsin Europe are still secure. Would not the companies be inclined to hire highly educated and skilled people from developing countries for merely a fraction of the salaries now applicable?
These risks do not concern the employees alone; employers are also facing major challenges. The cross-border employment may imply various bureaucratic, legal and tax consequences with related costs as well as risks. Big companies with their vast resources may cope with this matter. As I see it, the smaller companies will need to come up with more creative ideas and tailor-made solutions to succeed should this trend persist.
(by DoğanErbek and STF Team)