Why not at CERN also?

Teleworking or mobile working, flexible work schedules, and other measures that favour a better work-life balance have been adopted by many companies and organizations.


Thanks to the development of new technologies, e.g., the Internet, mobile working seduces more and more staff, as well as more and more companies, which find there advantages in terms of space management, security (less commuting), sustainable development (less pollution), as well as an increased motivation and well-being of their staff.

Adjustable working hours or "core-hours"1, sare also increasingly common; companies that have opted for this kind of flexibility have highlighted the autonomy of their staff, the well-being of their employees, but also their attractiveness and competitiveness. In addition, studies of welfare economics and behavioral economics show that "... today, companies still retain a culture based on staff members having to be physically present, which goes against what employees are demanding ... "(see the article in La Tribune de Genève from June 21, 2015 - Heureux au travail ? Une utopie réaliste).

As part of the 2015 Five-Yearly Review 2015 on the subject of diversity-related measures, issues related to “work-life balance" have been included. In fact, CERN commissioned the OECD to make a comparative study in this area between several international organizations (EMBL, ESA, ESO, ITER, UNOG, EC, and EPO). This comparative study shows that a large proportion of these organizations already practice, often since a long time, mobile working (two to five days, including occasional teleworking), flexible working hours (ranging between "core-hours" and total flexibility (for example EMBL and ITER)), and different types of part-time work.

Evidently, such developments cannot be adapted to any type of work, e.g., activities requiring a physical presence on the CERN site, and those subjected to imperatives of scheduling cannot benefit. Yet, for other activities, bar those for which objective restrictions apply, there is no obstacle to the introduction of a greater flexibility at CERN, not only for the sake of the well-being and motivation of staff, but also for CERN to stay competitive and attractive.

The key word is mutual trust. And it works! In several countries (Germany, Great Britain, USA, etc.) governments and business leaders have opted for a so-called liberated organization, which considers the traditional system of “control by command” of staff as archaic; they count on the personal responsibility of their employees to give them more freedom.

CERN is reviewing its diversity policy, would this not be the perfect opportunity to make improvements in this area? That is certainly the point of view of the Staff Association, which through its proposals is betting on trust, independence, and maturity of the CERN staff members.

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La version française de cet article a été publié dans l'Echo n°226.


1 A fixed block of time during which the employee is expected to be at work.

by Staff Association