Working in the home office

Germany is staying at home

The morning streetscape has undergone a transformation. In those grey January weeks last year, schoolchildren and workers were hurrying out of their homes at the crack of dawn. Many of those windows are still dark at half past seven nowadays. You only see light shining out onto the pavement in homes where tradesmen are readying themselves for action.

Seven thirty a.m. in Germany: empty streets, dark houses

Bitkom, the digital association in Germany, recently published a study in which this morning panorama is fleshed out with actual statistics: the number of people in employment who are working exclusively from home has risen into the double-digit millions. And the proportion of people logging into the company network from their study or kitchen table at least some of the time accounts for 20 per cent of the working population. Their experiences are positive, according to the study.

More freedom, better performance, higher productivity: the aspects of home working most valued by working people.

“The corona crisis has shown that flexible working doesn’t compromise the quality of work output – in fact the opposite is true,” says Bitkom president Achim Berg in summary. Almost half the workforce was working from home at least on a part-time basis in October and November 2020, when the survey was conducted. Now in January, with another lockdown in Germany restricting people’s radius of movement, this figure is likely to be even higher. Most of them appreciate the freedom to work independently of time and place that’s characteristic of home working. There’s no stressful commute, it’s easier to balance family and work. The opportunity to establish a health-conscious lifestyle boosts work satisfaction too, says the study. Many people claim to work far more productively at home, and are able to perform better.

How does working from home change the collective experience?

Admittedly the culture transformation in the workplace is still not so far advanced for the home office to be an aspect of employment that’s seen as a matter of course. There are individually perceived downsides such as the lack of face-to-face contact with bosses and colleagues, or the feeling of being cut off from key information – and structural disadvantages can be added into the equation as well: back in the autumn many were calling for home office activities to be better supported. Many working people would like a tax break and have identified that the incentivisation already provided by their employer could be improved further. Yet the benefits for the company are clear: whilst home working is currently an important tool for containing the pandemic, we were able to see positive effects on the environment even in the space of last year – there was less traffic, less air pollution, less noise. It’s worthwhile continuing to encourage that.

How much home working can your work culture sustain?

In some professions, home working simply isn’t possible. But even if you work in the production sector or offer a direct personal service, your work culture can encourage agility, a democratic leadership style and a balanced work-life model – and make full use of digitalisation. We use our WORK.CULTURE.MAP tool to analyse your work culture and support you through the office design process, which might equally well be at home as on company premises!

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