Have you ever worked from home?

Home office, shorter conferences, sick means sick : For employees, these could be achievements of the crisis

Home office is becoming the norm

Then nobody does anything anymore, feared skeptics. Now it is clear that working from home works better than some bosses believed. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) wants to present a law by autumn that grants everyone the right to work from home. If you want, you should be able to work outside of the office even after the pandemic - either entirely or for one or two days a week. Heil would like to use “positive experiences” from the crisis. Even if it is clear to him that not everyone can take advantage of this offer. “As a baker, you can't bake the rolls from home,” he says.

From the point of view of the SPD, however, more attention must be paid in future to how people work from the home. "Actually, all employers should check at home, for example, whether the chair is suitable at all," says SPD leader Saskia Esken. Now there is a kind of state of emergency, but in the medium term there should be more rules. Also in terms of technology. Because what if the WLAN gets stuck? Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt demands that Heil's proposal should be supplemented with a “legal right to fast internet”.

One thing is clear: Home office is not only good. Those who do not work exclusively in the office are more satisfied, more productive and more focused. A study by the Scientific Institute of the AOK came to these findings in 2019. At the same time, many are more exhausted because on average they work more - and not less. And because the home loses its function as a place of retreat. Home office is therefore not the right thing for everyone. That's why there shouldn't be any compulsion, says Heil. Companies could increasingly order home offices in order to reduce costs. He wants to prevent such considerations. Likewise, that employees at home are permanently available.

Result instead of presence counts

Why did so many people not work from home until the Corona crisis, although they could have done it? Their presence is very important to their bosses, according to a survey by the Institute for Employment Research. Neither in France, nor in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom or the Scandinavian countries, is the desire for control in this form as great as here.

The German work culture is based enormously on the visible presence. Those who sit at their desks for as long as possible are considered hardworking and productive. Important information is often exchanged in the hallway or at the coffee machine, ideas in conferences and over lunch. Those who are less often in the office or in the company are less noticed.

With such a mindset, employees feel that they are being judged on whether they spend a lot of time at work and less on the quality of their work - regardless of the time. Science has long known that performance decreases over time. Even hardworking people can be less productive if they have been in the office for twelve hours instead of six. According to Jutta Rump, economic expert from Ludwigshafen, that will change. Mobile working will become firmly established after the Corona crisis. "A return to the old world of presence culture is rather unlikely, we will work more and more in mixed forms," ​​says the expert for personnel management and organizational development.

However, she points out that the success of home office - for companies as well as for employees - depends on various factors. “Managers are considered a key factor,” she says. "Since home office goes hand in hand with trust, superiors must continuously create a climate of trust." Because presence is no longer so easy to control, in the future leadership should be based on motivation, work content and results, says Rump. Karl Brenke from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) sees it similarly. "Companies should develop from a control of the attendance time to a control of performance," he told Tagesspiegel some time ago. Many work steps can be dispensed with or can be done in significantly less time thanks to a reduction in bureaucracy.

[You can find all current developments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic here in our news blog.]

Fewer and shorter conferences

Nobody has the nerve for unnecessary meetings. In addition, there is virtually no personal exchange. If the picture catches, it rustles, the group discussion about zoom becomes an imposition. So they should end very quickly. That's lucky. Perhaps conferences will be shorter in the long run. So far, it has often been the case: at some point, your eyes will wander to the window or your smartphone. The thoughts are elsewhere, as the discussion has been going in circles for half an hour. Led by the same speakers over and over again.

The average office worker spends more than 16 hours a month in meetings, according to a study by Sharp. The Harvard Business School has determined that board chairmen spend 72 percent of their working hours with it. Many conferences are inefficient, not well prepared, with no clear objectives. In the worst case, everyone goes back to their desk with no result and is annoyed about everything that has to be made up for.

Companies that want to create shorter working days also mention that conferences consume enormous amounts of time. The Swedish app developer Filimundus introduced a six-hour day and at the same time eliminated interruptions such as not really important meetings. The employees should at least have as much of the day available to devote themselves to their tasks. Lasse Rheingans, head of a Bielefeld digital agency, advocates the five-hour day with full wages. His idea: If the working day is shorter from the outset, but with tighter conferences, without coffee breaks and without fiddling on the smartphone, the employees can manage the same workload. They'd do a better job too.

Try more, make mistakes

A new culture of mistakes has been preached to German managers for a long time: make quick decisions, make mistakes, admit them and learn from them. In large, listed corporations in particular, mistakes are still something reprehensible that everyone should avoid as much as possible. The basic attitude in Silicon Valley, on the other hand, is: Employees have to make mistakes in order to be successful. Anyone who wants to be innovative needs a constructive approach. People should experiment, be brave. At some point there will be something brilliant.

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At the moment everything has to be improvised, rethought and tried out. Birgit Wahmes is the managing director of the management consultancy offstandards and sees enormous opportunities for a different management style in the crisis. “This is just a booster for a new culture. The way of working is becoming more digital, more agile, ”she says. In the best case scenario, you trust each other more and get to know each other better personally. "However, if you do not adapt yourself as a manager, you will not make it," she warns.

To be sick means to stay at home

Your head is buzzing, your nose is dripping, but you still torture yourself to work. According to a survey by the German Trade Union Federation, two thirds of all employees were in the office or on the construction site last year, even though they were sick. Often out of a guilty conscience towards colleagues. Or out of fear that you won't believe them. The working world distrusted the disease for a long time and did not take it seriously. Today it is hard to imagine.

When employees return to their workplaces, uniform rules apply everywhere in order to protect each other from the virus as well as possible. The Federal Cabinet has adopted binding standards for this. The principle applies to employees: Never go to work sick! Anyone who feels unwell or has a slight fever should leave work or stay at home until the doctor has cleared up the suspicion. A colleague who sneezes and coughs all day? Who knows if it will ever happen again.

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