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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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.