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After two years of pandemic: can employers still do without working from home?

After two years of pandemic
Can employers still do without working from home?

Many employees appreciate the flexibility of working from home.

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After more than two years of the pandemic, can there still be a working world without working from home? Teresa Hertwig speaks plain language in the interview.

Two years of the corona pandemic have turned the world of work upside down. Especially with regard to the future handling of home work, there is uncertainty in many companies after the almost complete lifting of the Corona measures. How many days of home office are ideal? Can employers summon all their employees back to the office? What do most employees want? Teresa Hertwig, founder of the agency GetRemote and author of “Productivity doesn’t need an office”has important tips for employers in an interview with the news agency spot on news and reveals what role home office could play in the future.

With the almost complete lifting of the corona measures, the home office vs. office debate has reignited. What are the biggest talking points here?

Teresa Hertwig: The biggest point of discussion is definitely the number of mobile working days allowed. Because this is where opinions differ – both in management and among employees. Is it two home office days a week or three, or should the teams be allowed to decide for themselves? Unfortunately, we still get enough messages from desperate employees or even HR departments whose management summons them back to the office in their entirety. This is of course an absolute cardinal mistake and destroys any future viability of these companies.

Which people are drawn back to the office right now?

Hertwig: After this long time without colleagues, chatting over coffee and having lunch together, almost everyone is drawn back to the office “once in a while” just to socialize. The emphasis here is really on “sometimes” – because very few people want to go back permanently. If someone wants to go back to the office all the time, it is often due to the living situation, which simply does not allow for a suitable workplace at home. Or the desire for a clear separation of work and private life is very great. It’s always a matter of personal preference.

On the other hand, which people still like to work from home?

Hertwig: There are a variety of reasons for this – above all, of course, people who have learned to appreciate the fact that they don’t have to travel to work: The further I live from the office, the more time and quality of life I gain by working from home.

In addition, people who prefer the quiet and focus in the home office to the possible noise back in the open-plan office. Our reasons for or against working from home are as different as we humans are. It is now important for employers to create a workplace that takes both types of people into account.

Are many employers unsure about the future home office regulation?

Hertwig: Most employers are in the process of defining a permanent model for the future. There are definitely uncertainties here, because if you ask five people, you will get five different answers.

Many companies that work with us therefore wish to find an overarching consensus through our advice. It is important to involve everyone involved in the decision-making process right from the start – the company owners, the management, please don’t forget the works council if you have one, and of course also employee representatives. This determination phase is often heated, but so far we have always been able to find a good compromise as a starting point.

This also helps with uncertainties: making it clear that any definition is not set in stone forever, but should be understood as a starting point that can also be adjusted again. In any case, we will continue to put the hybrid work culture to the test and thus continue to develop the organization over the next few years.

What advice do you have for employers on how to deal with working from home?

Hertwig: Top-down decisions are somewhat frowned upon in this context, but to be honest: yes, freedom and flexibility, no anarchy. In order for hybrid work to function permanently, clear structures and regulations are needed. Because otherwise there are always Pappenheimers who get the greatest advantage for themselves, but perhaps not for the team or the company.

So what employers should do now:

Can employers do without working from home at all?

Hertwig: I am of the opinion that companies that refuse to work from home have no future on the labor market. A customer of ours from a traditional family company reports regularly that in all job interviews the home office topic is now vehemently demanded by the applicants. Retaining the best talent and attracting top applicants will soon no longer be possible without the opportunity to work from home.

To what extent has the pandemic caused a change here – also with regard to the future?

Hertwig: During the pandemic, a kind of quick wash cycle was introduced. What seemed impossible for decades had to work overnight. Of course, any change in this speed brings with it its teething problems. That’s why all companies are well advised to go back and analyze what has worked well in the last two years and what hasn’t. And this together with the employees – because they are the experts for internal processes, functioning processes and communication requirements. What we can definitely keep for the future is the mindset: Away from “That doesn’t work for us!” to “How can we make it possible?”. It is precisely this attitude that moves mountains and makes our economy sustainable.

Teresa Hertwig is the founder of the “GetRemote” agency, with which she advises companies on the professionalization of home office, has been leading her teams herself for ten years in a hybrid way and in April her second book “Productivity needs no office” was published by GABAL Verlag.

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