Emmanuelle Duez is a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of The Boson Project.
The Boson Project's job is to "create the conditions allowing the full and entire expression of human potential, individually and collectively".
We interviewed Emmanuelle to get her take on the future of work and the place of remote work in that future.
What weak signals should we all be aware of to prevent problems?
The first and most important point is that we are observing a fracturing of the social body between the weak and the robust. Between white and blue-collar workers, those who are partially unemployed, those who are not, and those who are totally unemployed. Between the oldest and the youngest. Between those who are comfortable in the digital world and those who are less comfortable. Between managers, executives and the rest of the world.
That’s a real challenge because we already had issues in yesterday’s world that were the traditional issues that we put behind diversity in the broadest sense. We can see that these classic fault lines are being added to other fault lines that are very worrying and one of the big challenges facing the company after the crisis is reconciliation.
How do you see the place of remote work?
I think there is hypocrisy in the idea of putting the entire staff on telework when possible. Only 40% of jobs are teleworkable. There is hypocrisy because that is not what the French workers are asking for.
There are a number of studies which show that overall, 2 or 3 days of telework per week is very welcome, but that overall, people, especially young people, are waiting to return to the office because the office is a place of knowledge and learning.
It is a place of social justice and a place of cohesion.
The second hypocrisy is that we see some leaders who want telework for them, but not for others. This is another way of looking at the subject that also raises questions about the challenge of teleworking. And indeed, I believe that we must not forget that “anything that is excessive is insignificant”, that neuroscience tends to show that too much telework reduces performance, since it creates a porosity between professional and personal life that is harmful.
Therefore, it is necessary to know how to dose and who knows how to dose better than the individual concerned. We cannot have an egalitarian approach to telework. Everyone is in the same boat, it makes absolutely no sense and we will regret it at some point.
And finally, I think the office is dead, long live the office. I think it’s going to lead the executives to ask themselves:
- “What makes you want to travel to the premises of the company, whether it’s the factory, the headquarters, the offices in the territory?
- What type of work requires our physical presence?
- How do we give employees collective experiences, brand experiences, value experiences, experiences in terms of work, innovation, creativity that more than ever justify having quality offices?
It’s going to be complicated because up until now, we’ve been on a somewhat fashionable approach. Tertiary offices where everyone was flexed. We were more open space, flex office. We had a foosball table when we were cool.
The injunction here is very different. It is really about doing the sociology of organizations, thinking about what are the expectations that permeate today’s society, and especially tomorrow’s society.
How do we translate these expectations? This culture, this identity in the walls, in the planning of the space, in the materials chosen and in the implantation on the territory?
I believe that, on the contrary, there is a stake for tertiary real estate in the noble sense of the term, which will be extraordinarily interesting in the years to come because we will have to rethink sociology, the prospective of intelligence within these disciplines.
What is a “Next Generation Enterprise” for you?
Instead of talking about the next generation of companies, I’d like to talk about the new generation inside companies.
I think the biggest sacrifices of the time are the young people and we don’t talk about them. This is a bit of a blind spot in the current debates.
They were the ones most affected by the lockdown.
From an economic and academic point of view, of course. And this is only the beginning of the story since the major economic and social crisis will logically follow after the lockdown.
The young generation will be the first to pay the price. In addition to the short-term effects of the crisis, there are the major societal transitions that they will have to carry on their shoulders, and I obviously include myself in this, whether they like it or not.
I think that in the years to come, and even in how we approach the topic now, it is essential that we pay great attention to the youngest because the task is immense and the responsibility is heavy.
The above interview was recorded during the 2020 edition of The NextGen Enterprise Summit.