More and more restrictions and the repeated, now even tougher lockdown during the Corona pandemic, have fundamentally changed the world of work in Germany.
Once again, many employees who usually work in their office in a company are now working in home office. How do people experience the time they spend working from home? What are particularly significant challenges, and where is potential for improvement? Do workers experience learning processes and are there also positive things to report from the office at home?
No entitlement to home office
No employee has a legal right to a so-called mobile workplace or to work in home office. On the other hand, there is also no obligation for the company to offer work from home.
Employers and employees must therefore agree if an employee is about to work in home office. The rules of the individual employment contract or the agreements reached by the works council apply. If there is no agreement, then the employer has the right to issue instructions, although this can not force employees to work from home. However, the majority of employees have come to terms with home office; even students find suitable employment with jobs at call centers, for example.
Organize your time by yourself
Working in home office sounds tempting: Everyone can organize their time on their own, finish work at their own convenience, and there’s no need to travel to work.
It’s true that traveling to work is not an issue, but working from home is not necessarily more convenient. Rather, the opposite applies, because working in home office requires a lot of self-discipline. The work is on the desk and needs to be done, just like in the office. Sure, in home office it’s possible to get up an hour later and catch up on that hour in the evening, but again, discipline is paramount. Even if working hours are more flexible now, the workload is not. If you work with colleagues, you have to keep up with their pace, just like at the company‘s office. There, it is also not possible to extend the lunch break excessively.
How Corona is changing the world of work
Germany and digitization – these are two things that simply don’t want to go together. The expansion of fast Internet is progressing too slowly, and home offices are not infrequently impossible, especially in rural regions, because fast lines are not available.
Corona could now finally change this problem for the better, because the more employees have to work in home office, the more urgently and quickly the expansion of the Internet must proceed. The pandemic is creating facts, because if it is not even possible to work with colleagues in a cloud, then something is wrong in this country.
The experiences of the past weeks and months have impressively shown how useful digital working can be if the relevant technical know-how is there. Companies like Microsoft provide what is needed to work in home office, but it is of little use if there is no fast connection.
Work, life and home – all under one roof
Perhaps the Corona pandemic opens up the door to a whole new world of work with many attractive possibilities: Is it possible in the near future to reconcile working, living and housing without any problems? What might work look like after the pandemic?
Coworking spaces and satellite offices are no more a novelty than the many interesting concepts for production close to home. They could be the working models of the future, making work more flexible and digital. However, much is still in development and must prove itself first. Corona has already shown that new possibilities have arrived in the world of work.
Emerging stronger from the crisis
Corona is becoming a test for everyone, including the traditional world of work. Many work with a laptop at the kitchen table or have set up a small office at home. The pandemic is forcing employees and employers to rethink how to come out of the crisis stronger. Certainly, not everyone who has to work in home office has the perfect workplace, but modern technology makes it possible to stay in touch and successfully collaborate with colleagues.
Home office may be more than just a stopgap solution, but a project for the future. Only after the pandemic it will become clear how efficient this solution was and whether it is fit for the future.
However, what home office lacks are social contacts, direct collaboration with colleagues and shared breaks. Those who work at home are either alone or have their families as contacts. With modern equipment, as far as working in the office is concerned, working in home office is no longer such a challenge, but perhaps a kind of experiment in what office work can look like in the years to come.