Wolfgang Grupp doesn’t think much about the home office. The head of textile maker Trigema said in a recent interview that he would have to employ “a 50% more people guarantee” if there was a legal right to work from home. Most other companies apparently do the same as Allianz, Daimler or Siemens and, if possible, let their employees work on the go even after the Corona crisis. This is shown by a survey by the Leibniz Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim (ZEW), which the SZ has previously received: In certain particularly suitable sectors, three quarters of the companies questioned would like to allow their employees to stay in the job market. house in the future.
As early as June 2020, researchers from small, medium and large companies wanted to know if they planned to let their staff work from home even after the Corona crisis. In companies in the information industry, 64% of companies wanted this to continue at least one day a week. These include IT service providers, publishers, tax administrations and advertising agencies. A year later, ZEW again surveyed nearly 1,200 companies – and learned that the proportion has now risen to 74%. By way of comparison: before the crisis, only about half of companies in the information sector allowed some of their employees to work from home at least once a week.
“The results indicate that the home office will not disappear again, but that employers will also allow more flexible working in the long run,” says Daniel Erdsiek, who conducts research in the area of “digital economy” at ZEW . It should be noted that nearly half of the manufacturing companies surveyed are preparing for a future that will take place at least in part outside the company. A year ago, it was 37 percent; before the crisis, only 24% of employers in this sector allowed their employees to work from home on a regular basis. According to scientist Erdsiek, the tasks are mainly administrative tasks that could have been transferred earlier to the ne-Office. “But there are also activities in which this has only been possible thanks to the progressive digitization of the company. Just think of the system, for example, which can now also be controlled or monitored from home.”
Homework is here to stay
In previous studies, researchers found that many companies were pleasantly surprised at how well the sudden, large-scale experience worked for them. “You have noticed that more activities are suitable for working from home than previously thought,” says Erdsiek.
This also applies to a professional area where face-to-face meetings, gossiping and handshakes were indeed part of the job description before the crisis: selling. As an unpublished study from the University of Bochum shows, 97% of the 777 companies surveyed achieved their sales targets in the crisis year 2020. And this, even though salespeople could no longer sit in the room. car to get to their customers and let them know their favor via Zoom, Teams or Skype on average 28 minutes less.
From these findings, too, scientists conclude that the home office is here to stay. In the future, sales people in particular will be able to deal with existing customers from their home offices, says Christian Schmitz, professor in the university’s sales management department. Employees could use the time saved for other purposes – and save tons of CO₂ on top of that.
In order not to have to use the teenage daughter’s tablet at home, however, employees need a device with which they can work on projects and participate in video conferences. As the ZEW survey shows, one in three companies in the information sector and one in four companies in the manufacturing sector provided additional smartphones, laptops or tablets during the pandemic.
So all the peace, the joy, the work at home? ZEW researcher Erdsiek is cautious about this. Those who increasingly work from home are making the distinction between a better work-life balance and the feeling of constantly having to be available. “Businesses and employees still need a lot of self-discovery,” he says.