Miriam Carreño, director of consulting projects at Adecco Group and professor of human resources and leadership at Johan Cruyff Institute, talks about work-life balance and remote working as a measure of work effectiveness due to the Covid-19 restrictions
From consulting, we see that sectors such as food and health are overloaded right now, they need staff and they are really having problems to supply all the demand they have. On the contrary, all the rest of the sectors, such as the automobile sector, for example, or even the sports sector, have suffered many casualties, with staff put on furlough and are starting to use very important tools such as remote working to be able to maintain at least the minimum within their work activity.
Sport is one of the most affected sectors due to the large accumulation of people at each sporting event. Obviously, one of the protocols of the Covid-19 is the avoidance of large crowds. As we all know, we are in a period of confinement and what the sports sector has done is adapt the structure and organization part of the business through remote working, so that the management within sports clubs continues to be active and is preparing new protocols and policies that can be adapted to the new practices that will emerge after this crisis.
“The management within sports clubs continues to be active and is preparing new protocols and policies that can be adapted to the new practices that will emerge after this crisis”
The importance of internal communication and transparency
It is very important that companies have a good internal communication plan, that they establish action protocols to be able to communicate to employees the different situations that are going to occur. We are going to realize that we have sectors, such as the sports sector, where there are employees—in this case players, athletes, trainers, coaches—who are affected by the pause, with a suspension of their employment contract, waiting for the crisis to change or modify. The same thing is happening in other sectors, and there are people that need to work remotely. There must be some type of communication and certain protocols of maximum transparency indicating at all times what is being done and why, what will be done, and the changes that will take place. Remote work protocols, very clear communication protocols, need to be implemented about what it means to be subjected, for example, to a furlough, or what a suspension of employment contract means, how they will complement each other and what onboarding’ will mean afterwards, that establishing of continuity in a new job.
“It is very important that companies have a good internal communication plan, that they establish action protocols to be able to communicate to employees the different situations that are going to occur”
Human resources policies and protocols to reduce the psychological impact
Human resources departments are implementing many policies related to social benefits and the reconciliation of work and family life. Besides, we have to add to this crisis the fact that the time we had before to dedicate 100% to our job—because our children were in school or in extracurricular activities— has now been reduced to 0%. The children are at home, we are all at home and we have to manage this way of working. Remote work protocols, conciliation protocols, and that means allowing total and maximum flexibility for all workers, is being established by human resources departments. And then, for those who are on furlough and do not have to work from home, financial support protocols are established as well as social benefits. Above all, it is about being close to the employee, from hiring through the company, to health insurance to make them feel calmer, to professional training, obviously, because it is necessary to continue with a training plan that helps them during this period, to psychologists that can help through online or digital methods. We are going to help and we are going to be close to these employees, to these collaborators who perhaps find the confinement situation in which we find ourselves more difficult, the psychological situation is complicated for them. Above all, the preparation for the changes that will take place in all jobs, the restructuring of the company, how it will happen, how each worker will be relocated, so that they feel safe, they feel trained and, at all times, accompanied and part of the company.
Work-life balance and remote working as a tool for work effectiveness
Remote working had already been considered a basic tool for reconciling work and family. But the management culture in certain areas, especially in SMEs in the sports sector, the clubs, were still not aware of it as such. We are realizing that all these technological tools have always been at our fingertips, and that the digital transformation promoted a change in technology together with HR from the beginning. However, the cultural change was proving to be very complicated. Now we have all been forced to establish protocols, to work online and use these technologies, and we have seen that a digital meeting, through Skype or any other tool, can be as smooth and valid as a face-to-face meeting. Even much more efficient, because the agenda is much more clearly established, and everyone is very focused on the agenda items. There is no social closeness, that is a shame, but it is true that it helps us monetize, be more efficient and work in a more focused way. We are realizing that when we are working from home, when we use technologies to talk to each other—a tool that, as I say, is essential—we are more concentrated than during the usual eight hours of office work. What we have to do from now on is not lose this course, continue and maintain this great momentum. And now, especially the sports sector, perhaps the one that was a little behind with all these changes, needs to join the new trends, join the reconciliation methods, join the communication, the transparency, the closeness to people and start to use remote working more. And introduce the adjustment and flexibility of schedules that will really allow us to adopt the business model we have talked about so many times and that my students already know that I always promote—that professionalization that LaLiga implemented as well.
Temporality and project work as an incentive for professional development
It will obviously be a push and a lever toward that change. Although it is true that Generation Z, and millennials, had already been promoting this change to project work. Perhaps now we have all become aware that we do not control our future, that we draw it, we try to shape it, but we do not control it. That any day any type of crisis situation like this happens, an either we are subject to a tremendous cultural change, having to work online and adapt to new circumstances, or we see that we have finished our working life. So, it is true that working on projects is something important, it is something that, as a cultural change, came hand in hand together with digitization, and it is clear that this type of crisis makes us all think about where we are and where we are going. In fact, one of the projects that we are going to launch post-health crisis is going to be the new approach toward the mission, vision and values of organizations and it is true that it will be a drive and a cultural change toward project work, towards continuous training, toward career planning and management. Above all, toward humanizing organizations and realizing that, no matter how much artificial intelligence there is, how much robotics, humans are the workforce, are the intelligence, the intellect. It is humans who promote and enact change, and companies and organizations have to be very focused on that point, which is people.
“I think that, from now on, human resources policies will finally be aligned with management, because human resources have always been focused on people, and management on results”
I think that, from now on, human resources policies will finally be aligned with management, because human resources have always been focused on people, and management on results. They will realize that this flexibility, this project work, this digitization, this application of reconciliation measures and, above all, working on the employee experience, the employee life cycle, makes organizations really more efficient, effective and able to achieve better performance. It is going to be the start of cultural change, which I hope we all assume—LaLiga through its remote working project has been the great example of the sports sector—and I think that, from now on, the projects that LaLiga had regarding the human resources function can be implemented, can really be launched and start making that change toward the professionalization that we all hope for.