"The office must offer more than just a space to work in"

Mesa redonda 2
Ana Freire, directora del Dpto. de Operaciones Tecnología y Ciencia de la UPF-BSM; Nia Plamenova, profesora de Recursos Humanos de la UPF-BSM, Jorge Salas, de Jobandtalent; Íñigo Vallejo, de Milanuncios; y Ana Pantaleoni, periodista de El País

After the pandemic, companies and workers have changed their expectations and both sides are demanding more. A phenomenon described as a "psychological contract", as Nia Plamenova, professor of the Master in Human Resources Management at the UPF Barcelona School of Management (UPF-BSM), explained during the session "Wellbeing at the click of a button: a new era for companies and workers", moderated by the journalist from El País, Ana Pantaleoni, and organised by the UPF-BSM Sustainability Observatory in the framework of the presentation of the book Persiguiendo el bienestar planetario: miradas transversales sobre la sostenibilidad (Pursuing planetary wellbeing: cross-cutting views on sustainability).

"Few people are going to spend more than five years in the same company and, therefore, the office must offer more than just a space in which to work", said Plamenova. Milanuncios works along these lines, as explained by its PR & Content Manager, Íñigo Vallejo, who stated that "when hiring, we seek to ensure that the candidate's values are aligned with those of the company". "There are a series of benefits beyond what we previously conceived that make you feel represented by your company," said Vallejo, who admitted that "as new generations arrive, we see that what they are looking for is changing.

"Few people are going to spend more than five years in the same company and, therefore, the office must offer more than just a space in which to work"

"The personal dimension is very important. Teleworking is facilitating many things and it is crucial that companies provide flexibility and adapt to each case", said Ana Freire, director of the Academic Area of Operations, Technology and Science at UPF-BSM who, however, admitted that "it is something very recent" and that it is "only now that decisions are beginning to be made".

How does the algorithm help occupational wellbeing?

Both Vallejo and Jorge Salas, Jobandtalent's Chief Marketplace Officer, have acknowledged that teleworking is a totality in their companies. "We are in nine countries and we have to interact with people from Colombia to the United Kingdom", said Salas, assuring that "international companies are going to have to apply teleworking, because they are going to have to interact with people who are not at the desk".  "When we talk about wellbeing at work, we talk about it: applying technology to make things easier for us", said the Milanuncios representative.

However, Freire warned of the double face of technology: "in the STOP project we did a study on how publications on social networks about burnout and depression had increased, with the peak in 2020, when teleworking was forced". "It is also true that we took advantage of technology to analyse through algorithms how issues such as job insecurity, harassment and low wages were expressed and to remedy them," explained the director of the Academic Area of Operations, Technology and Science.

“Algorithms do not discriminate, but replicate existing biases in our society. This is why it is important to form multidisciplinary teams to analyse contexts and mitigate inequalities"

"The processes are being improved, as the algorithms are created by people," said Plamenova, who was hopeful. "We must bear in mind that Artificial Intelligence does not discriminate, but rather that algorithms replicate biases that already exist in our society", warned Freire, who stressed the importance of "creating multidisciplinary teams to analyse contexts and mitigate, as far as possible, inequalities".

In this sense, Salas argued that it is possible to achieve greater well-being at work through technology. In the case of Jobantalent, "we help companies and workers to connect and have the best engagement through technology, through algorithms".  

Can one be happy at work?

"In our work we take two things into account: the preferences of the company and the preferences of the candidates. Based on this information, we are able to offer jobs that will satisfy everyone", said the Jobandtalent representative. In this sense, the professor of the Master in Human Resources Management at the UPF-BSM, guaranteed that "happiness at work is not given by flexibility, but by autonomy". 

“When talking about happiness at work, we basically focus on two visions: the classical one (salary, job) and the one linked to purpose"

"When it comes to happiness at work, we focus on two visions: the classic one and the one linked to purpose", explained Plamenova. In this context, initiatives such as "Closing the circle", promoted by Milanuncios, are relevant, with the aim of "analysing what all the purchases made on our platform meant for the environment, as 6 out of 10 people in Spain do not finish the useful life of products". "Our work avoids the manufacture of items that are not needed and that represent waste", Vallejo celebrated.

Although much of the action needs to be taken by companies, Freire stressed the responsibility of everyone to reduce the carbon footprint, including in the workplace: "We can reduce or eliminate content that we store in the cloud, which seems ethereal and limitless to us, but in reality it is a huge warehouse full of interconnected computers with enormous energy consumption". "Many companies already delegate the storage of information to the cloud, but we can achieve a white cloud, not a black cloud, with small gestures.