Let’s imagine the emails that a confused executive is about to send:
9.35am Good morning, team!
The Portuguese parliament has banned companies from contacting remote workers outside working hours. As managing director of Castro e Silva, I know many of you will find this unsettling. We have worked as a family in the pandemic, and I am determined that will continue. Please send me your comments on the new law, and the comms team will write a formal letter of protest. Yours, João
9.50am While fully respecting anyone working flexibly, I encourage employees to send comments asap. I am also available to discuss on Slack/Hangouts/Teams/WhatsApp at any time (except 0100 to 0430).
10.20am Is email down?? :-))
11.43am Thanks, I’ve received one response. It is from HR.
I would therefore like to restate that I’m a champion of homeworking. I worked from home for many years before the pandemic, because the office was briefly my home! But enough about my divorce.
The executive team is future-focused. We’re open to persuasion that Mila is more productive on the beach. We understand that Joana’s capybara needs constant attention, and cannot currently be accommodated in our Lisbon office. We, too, have noticed that Vicente’s Zoom backdrop seems to be Belarus and we recognise that as a valid life choice. But our agility is our strength. Many outsiders think the market for railway sleepers is static. In reality, Castro e Silva cannot predict what our customers will demand tomorrow. We could face a black swan, or a “white sleeper”, moment.
The new law means that, after 5pm, we could no longer contact you. Your boss would disappear from your Teams screen, losing the momentum you have built up, for example, revising the annual audit. We will not be able to call each other late at night. I wonder if that’s the culture we want.
Sleepers are what we sell, not who we are. There should only be so much REM in remote working.
1.13pm A group of you have asked if we’ll follow the new law’s requirement to reimburse remote workers’ energy costs. I can confirm that we will, while noting that this group includes people who used to complain the office was too warm. Talk about hot-desking!
2.14pm Update: Analysis reveals that companies with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from some bits of the new law.
One option would be for us to “right-size” Castro e Silva, and outsource work to contractors. Maybe Vicente has met some suitable people in Belarus.
Obviously no one is considering this, even though it would save the company a lot of money!
Also, has anyone realised that just as there’s no “i” in “team”, there’s no “u” either? It made me think!
3.43pm On Legal’s advice, I clarify that the previous email does not convey, and is not intended to convey, any threat of redundancies. We will not discriminate against any employee who works remotely.
3.49pm Although isn’t it funny how you remember to answer people’s emails when you see them in person? Less hybrid, more hi-ya!
4.12pm I understand why many of you like working in your own houses. I enjoy working from all of mine too. But one thing that’s easier in the office — asking for a promotion!
Just joking. I think!
4.49pm 11 minutes left to send in your comments on the new law!
5.01pm Still waiting for your emails . . . Would it be simpler if you all just came back to the office? I couldn’t possibly say!
5.02pm Message did not send for legal reasons