What are the people doing in offices

“Most offices are commercial, not living spaces. But people are not resources "

Jan Teunen is not only a professor at Burg Giebichenstein, he also advises companies such as Deutsche Lufthansa and the drugstore dm. We can reach him in the home office. Not much has changed at Teunen's workplace as a result of Corona: "With us, life, love and work have always been one unit." He has lived with his wife and children at Schloss Johannisberg in the Rheingau since 1977, where his office is also located. right next to the apartment.

Mr Teunen, the corona crisis has led to the rapid rise of the home office. Suddenly a lot is possible that once seemed unthinkable. Why didn't that work before?

It doesn't work now either.

But have many employers given their employees extremely flexible and self-determined working models at home?

But this new structure was born out of necessity. The problems in the home office are manifold. It starts with ergonomics, goes through exposure and ventilation to noise protection; good doors are in short supply. You can see that when you zoom in with the people, they sit at the kitchen table and the children run around, that's not a good place to work. Bad posture, lack of exercise - occupational physicians are already clapping their hands over their heads.

Is that why many people are happy to be able to go back to the office?

People want to be happy, at least occasionally. And happiness arises from security, from the consideration of individual wishes and needs. We can bring it back to a simple formula: We are four-dimensional beings. Body, me, mind and soul. They all have needs that are usually not taken into account in the home office.

How could it go better?

We can clarify this using Otto Scharmer's U theory: If you are a liver cell and want to become a lung cell, you cannot get there directly. That means: If you are constantly in the company office and suddenly want to go to the home office, you have to go through the U: back to the original cell. So in order to work effectively at home, you have to go back to the origin of the office.

Who would be there?

The office was invented in 1179, in the High Middle Ages. A monk put some unplaned planks on two blocks of wood and put his robe over it so as not to damage the parchment and leather bindings. By the way, the habit was called “Burra”, which is how the word “office” came about. It was, if you will, the first home office, and it was created to protect what was precious. Paradoxically, this is not the case in most home offices. Most people live as if they have just been the victim of a natural disaster.

How so?

You haven't learned how to culturally charge your surroundings. We used to live in nature, to which we had both a functional and a poetic relationship. The office - whether in the company or at home - has become second nature to people. The function may be there, but the poetry is missing: many people have failed to bring the world into their home.

Like in the Renaissance?

People didn't go out there much, but they took the world in. They created chambers of curiosities and could stay there indefinitely. My home office is similar to a cabinet of curiosities. A retreat where I can be happy for the rest of my life. I invite the people I want to see, I am satisfied with my rooms. I don't have the romantic desire in me that happiness is where I am not at the moment. And that should be the rule - not only in the home office, but also in the office.