Home office commentary: All is not better in the office – economy

That’s right, in the long run it can wear you out. The super-shortened trip from the bed to the kitchen table, which was originally acclaimed for the life saving created, now significantly deprives you of enough fresh air and exercise. The constant silence, initially greeted as an invitation to concentrated work, at one point feels powerfully lonely. No colleague coming. Person who pats the shoulder when the job is done. And the fact that you even have to dine in the same multifunctional room after you finish work seems like the worst of it.

Home office fatigue is rampant after months of the pandemic. At the end of November, the Corona ordinance on health and safety at work expires, which urges companies to allow working from home; this is no longer an obligation since the summer. In some places, companies have long since started ordering their employees to return to the office. And a recent survey showed that, surprisingly, many young people in particular don’t have such a big problem with it, on the contrary. Home office is dead, so long live the office?

Right now, there is a great risk that the experiment, which Corona has forced countless companies to undertake, will be prematurely declared to have failed: it might work for a while, it might even work better than expected. – but please, not in the long term. The employers’ lobby has already succeeded in preventing the SPD’s proposals last fall, which wanted to take the opportunity to give employees the legal right to work from home.

Home office makes visible what is wrong

It’s just that you allow yourself too easily to list all the shortcomings of working from home in order to evoke the blessings of the office. Team spirit is lost in the home office, they say. At the home office, employees threatened to lose contact. Creativity suffers in the home office. Is everything correct one way or another – and yet not quite. Above all, it does not follow that the office of all things would be the paradise where all these worries disappear.

The problems are not the homework problems per se, but bad homework. It is not a natural law that a sense of community suffers when colleagues sit at kitchen tables miles from each other. But we must make the effort to create it, by regular videoconferences, for example, by routines, by feedback, by more communication, perhaps also by chance meetings virtually initiated, many companies progressives have become very inventive. And it’s a well-belied rumor that great ideas only arise in a boardroom with a physical presence. Studies show that brainstorming doesn’t work in a team, and the results are worse and worse than if each of them were to think for themselves undisturbed – which is why, under certain circumstances, even more creativity can. be released at home. The office creates illusions that are often not right. The illusion that ideas arise because a group is simply thinking wildly, although most ideas are forgotten without being said. The illusion that people are working hard just because they are there. The illusion that people feel they belong just because they are in the same building.

The home office is so much like this long pandemic: it’s like a contrast medium that makes visible what is already messy. When co-workers are suspicious of each other, the conversation at home is silent. Where superiors follow the motto that there is already enough praise not to be reprimanded, motivation is extinguished all the more at a distance. What does not work in the home office is rarely due to the home office alone, but too often due to a work culture that had its problems before. And it doesn’t improve when everyone is called back to the office.

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