A total of 42 percent of German companies said they will allow employees to work from home following the coronavirus crisis, with an equally large percentage still undecided.
Researchers from the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) and the German Association for Personnel Management surveyed around 500 German companies from May 5th to 22nd to obtain an overview of the situation, which they published on Thursday.
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“The results are impressive,” said study leader Dr. Josephine Hofmann from IAO. “We are witnessing a large-scale, nationwide experiment in the digitalisation of work and cooperation, the speed of change of which seemed unthinkable until recently.”
The vast majority of companies surveyed said they’ve had good experiences with ‘Home Office’, as it’s referred to in Germany. A full 90 percent said that working from home is possible without any disadvantages.
The same percentage of firms said that they would not be able to “easily” turn down employees’ wishes to work from home in the future.
Room for improvements
However, there is also a need for improvements when it comes to working remotely, wrote Hofmann.
The most frequently mentioned shortcoming was the lack of a strategy against the “borderline phenomena”.
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In other words, for many people the line between work and leisure time can become blurred when the companies and managers don’t have a strategy on how to effectively use the time during the day.
In addition, the researchers found a lack of routine in “leadership at a distance”.
Managers also complained about technical issues that arose from working remotely – above all, they complained about difficulties in being able to sign documents electronically.
Growing number of people working from home
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, many employees in Germany switched to working at home when it was possible.
Around 25 percent of Germans have been working from home during the lockdown in March and April, an increase from 12 percent before the strict measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 were put into place.
And around 40 percent of German companies offer their employees the possibility to work from home, according to Statista.
A full 60 percent of Germans are also in favour of a legal right to work from home, which was proposed by German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil in April.
Germany is also considering extra tax advantages for working from home. Previously, a person had to have a room set aside as an office to claim tax benefits, a requirement which is likely to be loosened.