Teleworking with friends: when young people replace their colleagues to avoid isolation

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Au soleil, chez des amis, dans une maison de famille, à l'étranger, les jeunes actifs sans attaches sortent de leurs murs pour télétravailler. Oui, mais entourés.

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Posted on Jan 27, 2021, 2:31 PMUpdated Jan 29, 2021, 11:09 AM

Come on, let's go to a big house in the countryside and we telecommute together! When the reconfinement was announced, Roxane, 25, project manager in the transport sector, jumped at the proposal of one of her friends. With them, four others also embark. Before leaving, they make sure that there is a ” work room », Wifi and beds for everyone. The place is ideal: it was used for business seminars, in the world before. In less than two, the band of girlfriends had left in Eure-et-Loir (28), backpacks on the shoulder and laptops under their arms. The telecommuting operation in the countryside lasted five weeks, almost as long as the second confinement.

Back in Ile-de-London, Roxane continues teleworking with friends – occasionally. Even though her business premises have reopened and she can go there once a week, none of her colleagues go. ” If it's to end up in a huge and empty open space, what's the point? She asks herself. “ At least, between friends, we can talk, exchange, share. In these busy times, it's a good way to keep some semblance of social life. Because it is above all about that: avoiding the one-on-one with your screen.

The “all alone” seek to become “too surrounded”

“”Generalized teleworking has exacerbated two trends: on the one hand the porosity between professional and private life, and on the other, social isolation”, noted Caroline Diard, teacher-researcher in management and human resources at EDC London Business School since the first confinement. Schematically, there are the ” too surrounded “, Those who struggle – between children, spouses, and sometimes parents – to find spaces for them, and at the other end of the spectrum:” All alone “. The latter, to mitigate the risk of isolation, ” recreated the constraints of others », The telework specialist is astonished.

Strangely, I realized that I liked to be disturbed », Notes Antoine, 27, marketer in an American multinational. During the second confinement, he lived with four friends in the house of one of them in Arcachon (33). ” It is among the best two months of work of my life. Yet I didn't feel like I was doing more. It was very stimulating. “”On this increased productivity Marine, 27, project manager in a mutual, more so:” When I'm home alone, stay in my pajamas or hang out on Facebook, no one sees me, she admits. If I'm with people, it motivates me.

Saving pooling

Even when the missions are individual, the collective dynamic is promising. “”Getting together with friends allows you to reintroduce flesh, and not to be imposed on colleagues that the company has chosen for you”, analysis Aurélie Jeantet, lecturer in sociology at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, specialist in emotions at work. “Working under the gaze of others confronts a form of reality. “” Clearly, surrounding yourself with friends is a good way to reincarnate the work environment.

It is also a practical way of pooling needs. “For shopping, cleaning and meals, we filmed. It was very fluid ”remembers Antoine who openly names this period as “The roommate”. This sharing of tasks effectively makes it possible to be more efficient since the mental load of everything that does not concern work is shared between everyone. Budget question too, the costs are necessarily divided. For the sociologist Aurélie Jeantet, teleworking between friends can be a practice as well ” sustaining ” than ” framing “.

On the permeability of corporate cultures

On condition of establishing rules of proper functioning. Bob *, 28, an engineer in renewable energies, confined himself last March with seven other friends, including his sisters, to his family home in Gironde. “During working hours, the living room had become a kind of open space where everyone knew not to make too much noise, he explains. For meetings, there were bedrooms upstairs where everyone could isolate themselves. It worked really well. “ The delimitation of workspaces was a real subject, especially as of the eight, two were unoccupied.

These shared teleworking times can be an opportunity to compare working methods.

These shared teleworking times can be an opportunity to compare working methods.iStock

Time management is just as crucial. All the tele-friends-workers interviewed noted that their rhythms gradually matched. “”It's interesting to see how corporate cultures blend together”, remarks Angela *, 24, consultant in a large Anglo-American consulting firm. Looking for an apartment, she changes her decor almost every day – especially since her offices are closed. “I realized that I was adapting to the people around me. There I was five days with friends in Montargis (45), they worked until 9 pm, without noticing it I worked more hours. “

Extended hours, staggered rhythms, no border between place of work and place of life, potential spat between friends… For sociologist Aurélie Jeantet, the negative effects of this practice outweigh its positive impact. “This intermingling of professional / private life, for those who have chosen it, makes the articulation of these two times more harmonious. “ Result: teleworkers are more productive, more fulfilled and there is less suffering at work. “When we cut, we really cut”, testifies Bob, fervent supporter of the aperitif as a reward.

One way ticket to Crete

Others have even pushed the experience beyond our borders… and with real colleagues. On October 30, Margaux, 25, a consultant in a large law firm, took a one-way ticket to Crete. With her boyfriend, also a consultant, she didn't hesitate for a second. But they had to delay their departure by a day because all the flights the next day from London were full. Once there, two colleagues delighted to escape joined them. The four of them rented a house on Airbnb by the sea. And a car. This “Unlikely roommate”, in the words of Margaux, worked very well. “Two was sad, four was perfect. In addition, we got to know each other in the evening, while discovering the country on weekends., she recounts after two weeks of living together. My colleagues have become friends. “

When asked about any inconvenience caused by such an organization of work, Margaux does not see any. If not for the few derogatory remarks that were made to him. “Some have judged us to be uncivil, she concedes. But others encouraged us. There are even some who have imitated us. ” If there is a third confinement, Margaux will leave for sure, but this time perhaps not abroad.

* First names have been changed.

To note

Are we insured if we do not telecommute from home? A priori, yes, answers Caroline Diard, researcher specializing in the subject. “Everyone has civil insurance that generally covers teleworking whether it's in your bed, in your living room or that of a friend of yours. “ But, she advises all the same to inquire with her manager. “The key is always communication. “ Outside of London, or even Europe, however, teleworkers would not be systematically covered – unless their company communicated on this subject.

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