Home office - a win-win for everyone!


Dr. Matthias Bartke, Member of the German Bundestag (SPD) and Chairman of the Committee on Labour and Social Affairs

Berlin, 05 August 2021.

Dear Readers,

The Corona pandemic has made mobile working part of everyday life. Many companies sent their employees into the home office for the first time in March 2020, restructured work processes and organised technical equipment within a very short time.

For the containment of the pandemic, it was essential to minimise contacts in the factories. Companies made a significant contribution by complying with the SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety regulation. Test offers were organised and workers were offered home office if there were no operational reasons against it.

As the vaccination campaign progresses, we are approaching a state that will allow us to return to the office more often. What will we be left with from the experience of the last few months?

According to an expert opinion commissioned by the Ministry of Labour, employees would like to see a greater proportion of work from home compared to before the crisis. However, very few want a complete shift of work to the home office.

Companies are also open to the idea. In a survey conducted by the employers' association Südwestmetall, for example, the majority of the companies surveyed stated that they wanted to allow their employees to work from home for two to three days.

I am convinced that modern rules for mobile work are a locational advantage.

It is regrettable that we did not succeed in passing the draft of the Mobile Work Act presented by Hubertus Heil in the Bundestag during this legislative period. We have thus missed the opportunity to create a modern regulatory framework for this type of work.

We want to ensure that the collective bargaining and company partners can continue to make their own, tailor-made arrangements. Of course, there are limits to mobile working. If you work in a steel mill or bake bread, you can't do that from home, of course. But where it is possible, employees should also have the right to a certain number of days that they are allowed to work on a mobile basis.

On the other hand, one must not close one's eyes to the difficulties that companies can have when introducing mobile work. The removal of boundaries from work can lead to stress, damage to health and, consequently, absenteeism among employees.

Teams must continue to function. The positive effect of collegial contacts must also not be underestimated. In mobile or hybrid structures, this is more difficult and requires some organisational precautions.

Nevertheless, I am sure that the benefits of home office far outweigh the disadvantages. If employees can take a home office day every two weeks, it will increase their job satisfaction and improve the working atmosphere. And in the pandemic, we have seen that it works.