Work and travel to follow working from home?

Corona pandemic precipitates new ways of working
12 June 2020
Woman working on laptop

More and more prosperity does not necessarily lead to a higher standard of living, according to the Easterlin Paradox on happiness formulated in 1974 by Richard Easterlin, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. An increasing amount of possessions does not automatically make people happier as employees working from home noticed during the corona pandemic amid limited, disciplined contact. This sentiment is also reflected by German economist Maja Göpel in her latest book "Unsere Welt neu denken". At a certain point, living environments, relationships and health become more important. The employees of the Hamburg-based digital agency, DI Unternehmer, were delighted to find the bestseller in a corona-care package that their boss had sent to their homes complete with a thank-you letter, chocolate and sunscreen. 

Experience of working at home 

"We don't expect the situation to return to normal before March 2021. "We have given our teams a choice between working from home or in the office until then. Corona is not gone," said Marc Mundt, head of DI Unternehmer and the man behind the care packages. The company’s experience with remote work has been quite positive as people can combine the best of both worlds, which is what most of the 60 employees want. "We say 'home office', but mean far more: the longing for a more flexible and meaningful (work) life," Mundt noted.

 

 

Marc Mundt
© DI Unternehmer
Marc Mundt DI Unternehmer

The corona pandemic has had a radical impact on both companies and employees in a very short space of time. As a result of the corona crisis, many employees are still working from home or returning to their offices after a short period of disengagement. Many people are asking: "What's next and what is here to stay. Will everything return to its pre-corona state and and do I even want that?"

Productivity

Around 79 per cent of women and 85 per cent of men are content with working from home although the social and professional exchange, support and solidarity in the team were rated poorly, according to a recent survey by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.

Respondents, who worked from home, rated their own productivity higher overall. Almost 40 per cent of those surveyed felt more productive than when working in the office and slightly under 15 per cent rated their productivity as significantly higher. However, 37 per cent felt that their productivity is lower, if there are children under 12 years of age in the household.

Smart home offices

The future belongs to hybrid forms of work, New Work experts agree. Some members of a team meet for a conference in front of their computer screens at home while others meet in the office and practise social-distancing. Working from home will change apartments and houses and not only offices. "We will upgrade our houses and private apartments technically to become smart," said Nick Sohnemann, founder and CEO of the Hamburg-based innovation agency Future Candy.

Managers now have to orchestrate this challenging process. While many experimented with new tools such as Zoom,  Slack and other working methods during lockdown, they now have to decide on the procedure. For some, corona proved a crash course in digitalization and flexibility. Ideally speaking, managers should no longer be the sole decision-makers, but facilitators, coaches and partners for their employees. "New Work does not work well in rigid structures. It requires a new relationship of trust between supervisors and employees," said Sohnemann.

Desire for flexibility

The Hamburg-based Xing career network recently surveyed around 2,200 of its members in German-speaking countries about their work situations and job preferences for the "New Work Corona Barometer". More than half of respondents in Germany (51 per cent) were looking forward to working in the office again. Most respondents (70 per cent) worked partially or exclusively from home in early May. Around 91 per cent missed their colleagues and social contacts in the office the most. More than half of the Germans wanted an improved work-life balance

Focus on social issues 

Göpel also zooms in on mankind's relationship with nature, the economy and ecology and conjures up a picture of a tiny drone with a small brush that collects pollen from one plant and brings it to another plant using a fan. This technical reconstruction of a bee, which is now in danger of extinction, "is also an invitation to employees to question the fundamentals of our conduct hitherto and to rethink them," said Mundt. "After working from home, we are now going a step further and examining the legal possibilities of working and travelling." Perhaps working remotely on a beach beside the Baltic Sea is the next. 
kk/pb