Adoptar el teletrebajo en las pymes no es sencillo

Leyendo un artículo sobre el teletrabajo en las pymes, he encontrado unos párrafos muy iluminadores sobre lo complejo que puede ser adoptar esta práctica, en particular en las empresas de reducida dimensión.

Vienen a decir que adoptar el teletrabajo no es cuestión de tecnología, sino de cultura y procesos. La tecnología está ahí desde hace tiempo y es relativamente sencilla. El problema es sociotécnico o sociocultural, ya que son las actitudes hacia el teletrabajo, el estilo directivo y la forma de organizar el trabajo lo que facilitará o dificultará que esta práctica se ponga en marcha. Es necesario  tener confianza en los trabajadores, funcionar por objetivos sin necesidad de una supervisión estrecha, planificar cómo se coordinarán las actividades de trabajadores que antes estaban codo a codo todo el día y ahora están distantes parte del tiempo, etc. Estos aspectos parecen más difíciles de cambiar en las pymes, que tienen dificultades para planificar con anticipación y cuya dirección está poco profesionalizada.

Para los que leen en inglés, aquí van los párrafos seleccionados:

Clearly the adoption and practice of telework is much more than another episode of technological adoption (Jackson, 1999a). Empirical research clearly shows that non-technical issues hold sway, with the technological determinist position being untenable given the complexities associated with telework adoption and practice.
Whatever the levels of trust, bargained for or otherwise, firms seeking to exploit telework may need to rethink business processes and working practices in order to take advantage of teleworking. Thus, De Leeuw and Volberda (1996) and Pearlson and Saunders (2001) point to a ‘flexibility paradox’ whereby for teleworkers to have the flexibility to work offsite and to have some level of autonomy in temporal and spatial terms, then the firm must have procedures in place to ensure that the organisation continues to work effectively. So any decision to move towards more flexible working requires structured approaches to business processes. Firms living a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence—as anecdotal evidence suggests is the case for many SMEs—and that operate with little forward planning—as is also the case with many SMEs—may find this difficult. If greater structure is required by the firm, then, as Tietze and Musson (2003) observe, this can also be the case for teleworkers who use their home as workplace. This need is amplified where teleworkers share a home with partners and/or children. In this case, additional procedures and practices might be required that separate space and time in the domestic sphere.
It is clear from this account that availability of ICT is not the issue when looking for at telework adoption in SMEs. Rather questions at the socio-technical or socio-cultural level hold sway, including attitudes to telework and management style. Thus, organisations with strong hierarchies and a management style based on ‘the logic of subordination’ do not lend themselves easily to any generalised adoption of telework. There appears to be a lack of trust in employees when away from physical oversight with the perception that they are less productive when away from work. Only managers and mobile workers—those that have some level of autonomy attached to their roles— are likely to adopt, or be allowed to adopt, telework in such firms. Yet formal mechanisms defining teleworking arrangements are rare because much of it is undertaken on an ad hoc or voluntary basis, in which case its practice may be hidden. The picture is further blurred by a general confusion—even among its practitioners—as to what the term ‘telework’ actually means.

Those firms with flatter hierarchies and which foster ‘the logic of collaboration’, on the other hand, appear much more likely to adopt telework beyond managers and mobile workers. Nevertheless, there is evidence that ‘key workers’ (i.e. employees with valuable knowledge and skills, and who are neither managers nor mobile workers) may well be able to telework no matter what the organisational form or prevailing management views because of their personal bargaining power. However, the granting of autonomy so that an individual can work offsite is not in itself a guarantee of the successful practice of telework. Certainly if there is the desire on the part of SMEs to extend telework to those that are not managers or mobile workers, then training programmes combining ‘hard’ (e.g. ICT) skills with ‘soft’ (e.g. communications) skills may be essential.

Referencia completa del artículo citado:
Clear, F.; Dickson, K. (2005): Teleworking practice in small and medium-sized firms: management style and worker autonomy. New Technology, Work and Employment. Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 218–233.


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