How eager are you to get back to the office? The answer might depend on where you live. An interesting article on the BBC’s Worklife website discusses how different cultures embrace (or don’t) workplace flexibility.
Some of the statistics are enlightening (numbers quoted the article):
- By the end of the year, 25% of professional jobs in North America will be primarily remote.
- 38% of global workers will work in a “Hybrid” environment
- Around Europe, the number of people who work remotely one day a week is 51% of Germans, 50% of Italians, 42% of Brits and 36% of Spaniards.
Those are remarkable numbers, but they aren’t true for everywhere.
What’s happening in Europe?
In Europe, the French appear to be the most resistant, with only 29% of respondents saying they work from home one day a week. The reasons are complicated and easy to dismiss if you’re not careful.
With a slightly dismissive sniff, the article goes first to the “the French always resist change” argument. While there may be much to this, one of the primary reasons for resistance seems to be a cultural, life-style desire to keep work and home separate. There are also remnants of a top-down management culture in France. Many means people aren’t convinced their careers will survive not being co-located with decision makers. Plus, the French really don’t seem to like the idea of hoteling or hot-desking.
Management style also means workers in emerging Central European economies lag behind in remote work as well.
How about Asia?
In Japan, the situation is even more pronounced. For years, there has been talk about “presenteeism” being a problem. The office culture in Japan has traditionally rewarded long (some would say too-long) hours in the office and viewed it as the key to advancement. The problem isn’t getting people to come to the office, it’s getting them to leave.
We have found this in our own work with multi-national teams. Asian leaders are far less comfortable with their people working outside the office, and that’s reflected in everything from voluntary time spent in the office to HR policies that often put remote workers at a disadvantage.
Our work with people in Asia has revealed another, often just as important reason: apartments and homes in Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are often considerably smaller than in North America or even Europe. There simply isn’t any private space to work. Working from home is more of a hassle than it is in other parts of the world.
As we think about the direction of work and the rise of Hybrid Teams, cultural, national and geographic factors will be an important part of the equation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.