The end of the pandemic seems within your grasp. However, Corona continues to have a strong impact on professional life. A t-online survey among the Dax companies shows: It should stay that way for a while.
More and more people in Germany have received the first, and many even their second, corona vaccination. In many places, relaxation brings back a feeling of normality, the beer gardens are filling up, first concerts are allowed again.
In contrast, little has changed in day-to-day work. Furthermore, Germany’s companies are obliged to offer home offices wherever possible, and the obligation to test for employees is still in force. Completely exaggerated, it was recently said by the influential Federation of German Industry (BDI). The vaccination progress must be linked to a return to normal business operations, wrote the BDI.
But now it is clear that there is currently no increased interest in returning to the office, especially in Germany’s major corporations. This is the result of a survey by t-online among Germany’s most important corporations, the 30 companies included in the leading index Dax are listed and together employ more than 1.5 million people in Germany.
“There is no going back”
Of the 24 companies that responded to t-online’s inquiry, 15 said that they did not yet have a specific schedule for returning to the office. Many, such as the auto parts supplier Continental , refer to the health protection of employees and to adhere to the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute.
And even the companies that are already preparing to return do not expect everyday work to be the same as it was before the crisis. The majority of companies referred to relying on a hybrid work model after Corona – that is: partly working from home, partly in the office.
The automaker BMW For example, in response to a t-online request, the change in the world of work caused by Corona had accelerated digitization. “Therefore there is no ‘going back’, only the ‘departure into an even better tomorrow’ from the findings of the pandemic,” it continues.
Only “on occasion” in the office?
A spokesman for the chemical and pharmaceutical company made a similar statement Bayer. “We will not return to the old way of working after Corona,” he said. “We therefore expect increased use of mobile working in the post-pandemic period.” Here, employees should be able to switch flexibly between the office and home office.
Even the conglomerate Siemens states the goal “that all employees worldwide can always work on average two to three days a week on the move and that whenever it makes sense and is feasible”.
And the Deutsche Bank in this context also refers to an internal survey. According to this, the majority of employees have signaled “that after the pandemic they want and can work from home between one and several days a week”.
At the same time, many companies reiterate the importance of working in the office. So shared the Deutsche Telekom with, in the future, “event-related work in the office” will play a role. That means: “While concentrated work on a presentation can, for example, take place via home office, it is usually more effective for a creative exchange to meet in person in the office.”
Companies need to be more responsive to employees
One thing is certain: In many companies, employees have got used to working from home – and the desire to work from home will remain. Sven Granse, who is a management coach with his company People2Systems, has been advising DAX companies and smaller companies for 25 years.
“Most bosses have long known that there will be a greater need for mobile working in the future,” he says. “What many underestimate, however, is that after Corona the lever cannot simply be thrown.” Specifically, ideas are needed for working in teams where some colleagues are at home and others in the office. “It won’t be easy, especially since the needs of the employees differ greatly.”
It is therefore better for companies to talk to their employees sooner rather than later. “Everyday work will be different after Corona than before Corona,” said Granse. “Those who do not adapt quickly to this will be less attractive as an employer in the medium term.”
The exceptional situation ends
Oliver Stettes, head of the labor market and working world competence field at the employer-related Institute of the German Economy (IW), is of a similar opinion. “The home office during Corona and the home office after the crisis will be very different,” said the economist in an interview with t-online. “Because the pandemic was a completely exceptional situation for companies.”
Employees in the home office who had no experience with it – or whose work at home hardly makes sense, would have worked. “Businesses need to evaluate how effective working at home really is. And reality will surely catch up with many companies,” he said.
There are several reasons for this: On the one hand, many employees use more flexible working hours when working permanently from home. “The boundaries between professional and private will then increasingly disappear – and more overtime is the order of the day.”
Less business trips – more video switching
Because of this flexible work, the pressure of expectation should also increase, according to the expert. “Another problem could arise if the majority of colleagues in a team want to work in the office – and only a few at home. Then the colleagues will have to bow to the majority.”
But not only office life is changing due to Corona. Business trips will also take place much less frequently in the future. Of the alliance , Germany’s largest insurer, it said the pandemic had shown that many meetings could take place virtually – with no harm to business or employees. “This experience has led Allianz to adapt the travel guidelines across the group with the aim of reducing unnecessary business trips to a considerable extent.”
Other corporations are already giving specific figures on how much fewer business trips there should be to Corona. The housing company German living expects “a permanent, significant reduction in business trips by at least 30 percent”.
And Bayer is striving to “permanently reduce group-wide travel activities after Corona by around 50 percent by increasing the use of digital means of communication”. The company wants to save around 200 million euros per year through the “new normal”, it is said.