Documenting remote work from Bali to Europe
Deckchairs, sun, shorts, T-shirts and tropical plants … another day at the office for some workers who have reconfigured their lifestyle to adapt to a world hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
French photojournalist Jérôme Gence captured such changes in office mores in “Allo bureau bobo” or “Telework”. Its panorama of employees working from paradise islands for companies around the world – digital nomads – is exhibited in Perpignan in the south of France until September 26 as part of the Visa pour l’image festival.
“I have been working remotely since 2011,” the 37-year-old Frenchman told RFI.
“One day I was working in a cafe and saw another computer next to me with a heavenly beach in the background.
“There are a lot of people who have this wallpaper and it’s kind of a dream that people put aside.”
But dozens of young people – mostly in new tech – have embraced the turmoil and fluidity caused by the pandemic to settle in places like Bali in Indonesia and yet – thanks to their computers and internet links – remain a viable part. of a team in Paris, London, New York or Rotterdam.
“I tried to understand why these young digital nomads were leaving,” added Gence who received the prestigious Pierre & Alexandra Boulat award in 2020 for her vivid images documenting the trend.
“These are people who are really looking for a quality of life and to give meaning to their life,” said Gence.
“It’s a generation that was born into a world with AIDS, unemployment, precariousness, with the feeling of not having a pension.
“Taking the risk like our parents did of waiting for retirement to enjoy life … that’s not the way this generation wants to do it.”
“Allo bureau bobo” is a play on the title of a famous French song Hello mom bobo by Alain Souchon who evokes the brutality and absurdity of modern life.
Way of life
Frequent surveys indicate that high percentages of office workers and managers are bored at work.
Bad luck with the digital nomads who take advantage of the climate, the low cost of living while keeping their advantages in terms of salary.
They also have the feeling of belonging to a community while working together.
The nature of the beast, however, is fleeting. Nina left Bali after a few years. The 31-year-old Dutchwoman wrote an Instagram blog titled “Digital Nomads Daily” where she featured interviews and lifestyle tips.
“She actually realized it was more of a world of distraction,” Gence said.
“She came to find a community, a meaning and in the end she found everything that we can run away from in the West.
“You have design and surf shops in Bali that cost the same as in Europe. There is co-working and you actually end up in a bubble.”
Before the Covid-19 health crisis, most people working remotely were in new technologies. With the many confinements imposed during the pandemic, teleworking and teleworking have become more democratic.
“But the difference is that we have moved from a lifestyle choice of working in Bali with people who ‘design’ their lives and we are moving to another model where remote work is forced on people,” Gence added.
► Visa for the image from August 28 to September 26, 2021.