Majority of German companies plan to ‘focus more on remote working’

Nearly 70 percent of German companies have long-term plans for remote working, according to a new survey.

Majority of German companies plan to 'focus more on remote working'
A woman works in her garden in Berlin at the end of October. Photo: DPA

Throughout the coronavirus crisis in Germany, many employees shifted to working from home.

During the pandemic, 'Home Office' became not only more culturally acceptable, but encouraged when possible. 

But will employers will continue to embrace the trend even when the pandemic is over?

According to a new survey by management consultants Deloitte, the answer is clear.

Out of the 100 CFOs they surveyed in September, 66 percent said that: “We plan to increasingly focus on remote working.”

Many see the move as a key way to cut costs: “We are planning to reduce our office space in the future due to the increased home office offering,” said 37 percent of survey respondents. 

Companies have mixed views, however, when it comes to how effective remote working is.

According to an Ifo survey commissioned by the Stiftung Familienunternehmen, only 5.7 percent of companies said that Home Office spurred a boost in productivity, while almost a third registered a decrease in work performance of their employees.

Yet another study of 7,000 employees found that 56 percent said they were more productive at home and two thirds said they were better able to combine family and professional commitments.

READ ALSO: Home office makes employees more effective and happy, German study finds

More saving and spending

It is possible that the cost reductions achieved by the Home Office may outweigh any scepticism. According to the Deloitte survey, 71 percent of managers believe that cutting costs will be at the top of their list of strategic measures in the next twelve months. 

Through the money saved, 61 percent said they intend to spend more on “optimising organisation and business processes”. 

A further 47 percent want to place a stronger emphasis on “software, data, IT networks and website activities.”

And 43 percent indicated that they will spend more on cybersecurity measures to ensure the safety of Home Office workers. 

Before the coronavirus crisis as few as eight percent of employees in Germany regularly worked from home – a figure which shot up to 35 percent in the spring.

Germany's Employment Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) even wants to make working from home a legal right and is currently drafting a law which would enable anyone who wants to (and is able to) to work in home office.

Further measures are being discussed, such as tax breaks for those who work from home, and a certain number of days which would be made available to those who work remotely.

READ ALSO: Will working from home become the norm in Germany post coronavirus?


Member comments

  1. All this complication!!! If you work in an office, if it is not crowded, you are pretty safe. Wear a mask whenever you need to talk with collegues. Wash hands. Wash surfaces.

    Factories with spread-out workstations, same thing. Masks when people need to converse. When they are working away from others, just wash hand frequently. This is not rocket science. The places trying to send all their work out of the office are really over-doing it, IMHO. The spreaders aren’t wearing masks, aren’t cleaning hands etc. They don’t get it.

    We have been working in my small US factory (35 PEOPLE) through the whole thing…every day 5 days a week, 2 shifts. We train, we provide masks, we clean, we spread people out. NO COVID in 2020. Our area is very high infection rate, but we are not getting it because we are pulling together. It’s no hard. Just form good habits and stick with it!

    Wear a MASK.

    Wash your HANDS.

    Keep your DISTANCE.

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.