One thing has been clear: The Covid-19 crisis has fundamentally changed the way we work. Particularly, there has been a drastic shift toward remote working; as several companies have already announced, many employees will be able to work from home effective immediately or in the near future. With the loss of office-facilitated physical connections a new threat arises: the loss of human interaction. How can it be compensated?
“Home sweet home” – will this become the future poster child slogan for work? Numerous work models are currently being presented that pave the way for this trend. It is becoming clear that more and more companies are supporting their employees’ choice to go virtual. Attendance is often limited to important meetings or just single days of participation. This evolution is not surprising, because the economy has discovered the advantages of “work from anywhere at any time” during the Covid-19 crisis. Additionally, now that virtual work has been implemented for some time, it has become clear that work productivity in most cases has improved compared to working in an office. Companies have also discovered significant cost-saving potential in the reduction of unnnecessary office space and equipment. The ability to recruit workers also improves since most specialists like web developers and engineers have the ability to work anywhere.
“Working from Home” in DAX companies
“Working from home” is on the rise: well-known examples are Allianz and Siemens, which are planning to permanently implement virtual working. Deutsche Telekom has already made significant headway: for them the home office has become the new normal. Even after the lockdown, many employees have continued to work from home. Teléfonica is also establishing a permanent virtual work alternative. At Daimler AG, a lockdown was not even needed: the company has implemented virtual working standards since 2016, which has proven worthwhile. “Remote Working” was permitted without any additional approval. However, the onset of the pandemic, expedited the expansion of remote working: All employees who can work virtually should do so. Only areas such as production and manufacturing are excluded. The company owes the fact that everything so far has run smoothly to its early planning. Future investment in new office space will also take virtual work potential into account: the potential savings from efficient virtual work guidelines.
Effective Collaboration is a Necessary to Achieve Success
In order to execute virtual work efficiently, companies need an all-in-one strategy that can address areas such as technology, information, and communication. One key challenge is often collaboration among employees, an increasingly important part of working in the digital age. Around 70 percent of relevant information is shared between employees informally. However, the means of ‘knowledge sharing’ changes with “remote work”: A chat in the break room or the elevator no longer occur, and the spontaneity of meetings decreases. Also, if contact within one’s own department is conducted virtually, this implies that the opportunity to interact with colleagues from other departments also decreases. It is precisely these types of encounters that often spur new ideas – that often benefit the entire company. At its core inter-personal contact is still a large motivator for many employees. If missing, motivation to work may also be diminished. In the worst case, scenarios of so-called “social distancing” threaten completely isolating employees.
Meet New Colleagues
For a successful model, virtual collaboration needs direct contact points. Not only to maintain personal networks while working from home, but expansion of networking opportunities is essential for both employees and their employers. This entails both physical and digital meetings. Companies should be always looking to offer new opportunities for exchange. Since direct contact can never be completely replaced, some combination of digital and physical interactions would be ideal.
Looking for more information about the home office strategy? Read this article by Christoph Drebes on the IT Daily Portal.
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