Home Office – The work concept of the future?

In recent months, many employers in Germany have enabled their employees to work from home.
But now the question arises: How much will the pandemic change the world of work in the long term?

Even before the Corona pandemic, the tenor was usually: “Home office is nice, but not feasible for us”. A presence on site as comprehensive as possible was often assumed by managers and also frequently demanded.

Bild 1 Home Office

Photo by Drew Beamer

Time to rethink

However, many large companies have now abandoned this attitude, as good experience has been made with remote offices. Many companies even report increased productivity of their employees. According to a study by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), 37 percent of the companies surveyed plan to continue using home offices in the period after the crisis. This is particularly true for companies in the information industry. Despite of the manufacturing sector, which includes the mechanical engineering, chemical and automotive industries, only one in four companies had employees working regularly from home before the corona virus pandemic broke out, according to a ZEW analysis. Now it is almost 50 percent.

Does home office really only have advantages?

Sleep longer in the morning, no waiting for the train or traffic jams on the way to and from work you can see, the advantages of the home office seem understandable. Particularly in conurbations and where the journey to work often takes an hour or more there it makes sense to move the workplace to your own home. Therefore the popularity and high acceptance of home offices is understandable. Despite all the euphoria, the downsides must also be considered.

In order to be able to work just as productively at home as in the office, some basic requirements must be met. An ergonomic chair and a suitable desk, a window, sufficient lighting as well as necessary technical equipment and work tools must be available. In recent months, these conditions were probably only fulfilled in at least the home offices that were set up during the Corona period. In the long term, the kitchen table, couch and private laptop must no longer be used as working environments.

Another aspect is that not every employee has the personal prerequisites to feel comfortable and productive in the home office. Many need and appreciate the spontaneous exchange with colleagues. Often, employee satisfaction, company efficiency and corporate culture suffer because of less social interaction.

Bild 3 Home Office

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl

The right mix

Therefore, the right mix must be found together, which, in addition to organizational implementation, requires a high degree of agility and flexibility. Managers and employees must adapt to the new challenges and follow new guidelines. Trust, personal responsibility, the custom-fit delegation of tasks and timely organization of the workflow are even more important in the home office than before.

Of course there are certain work processes that still depend on direct personal exchange, but a wide range of activities can be covered well from the home office.

Home office and mobile working – What is the difference?

In the news, you keep coming across different terms, especially the terms “home office” and “mobile working” are very present.  Even though the term “home office” has become established nationwide, there are differences in employment law that must be taken into account.

Bild 4 Home Office

Photo by Bench Accounting

Here is the most important one in brief:

With a home office, fixed times are agreed upon and the employer provides the employee with furniture and equipment. The workplace regulations apply, so the kitchen table is not an option in this case.

But the regulation does not apply to mobile working, which is why this model is often based on working hours based on trust. This means that the employee is free to choose the place and time of work within a given framework.

Even it is not yet clear when the post-Corona era will begin. However, we are certain that the future belongs to hybrid work concepts.