Thanks to digitalization, work can now be performed in many areas regardless of time and place. Mobile working thus creates a high degree of flexibility for employees, e.g. for a better work-life balance, to reduce commuting and presence times, but also to optimise on-site customer contact. This increases productivity and employee satisfaction, which also benefits employers.
It is important to distinguish between the different types of possible contractual arrangements. This is particularly relevant for the difference between mobile working and home office on the one hand and teleworking on the other. There are key differences here. In the case of mobile working, the work performance is generally intended to be and can be performed from changing locations. Mobile working can be done partly or completely from home in a home office. In the case of home office work, it is contractually agreed that and to what extent the employee performs the work at home. Work in a home office is thus a form of mobile work. This is also accurately described in the Covid19 occupational health and safety regulations. Telework, on the other hand, occurs when the employer himself sets up the workplace on the employee's premises, i.e. the design of the workplace is directly attributable to him. This case is rather rare in practice.
Legal right to mobile working contradicts principles of labour law
The employer's right to issue instructions with regard to the place of work and the working hours is constitutive for employment relations and is constitutionally secured. A restriction of this right through a statutory right to mobile working or home office would be a serious encroachment on entrepreneurial freedom and would not be compatible with higher-ranking constitutional considerations. Instead of a rigid entitlement to mobile working, sustainable measures should be considered that can increase the willingness of the contracting parties to use appropriate instruments.
Wide range of mobile working
Overall, 61 % of all companies in Germany offer their employees for whom this is possible the option of mobile working. The proportion of companies increases with the size of the company. While 60 % of micro-enterprises (1 to 9 employees) set up mobile working, 65 % of small enterprises (10 to 49 employees) do so. Mobile working is possible in almost 85% of medium-sized companies (50 to 249 employees). Among large companies (250 and more employees), the share is 94 % (Destatis 2017).
Compared to mobile working, 35 % of companies offer the closer form of employment of the home office (IAB 2017). Compared to the situation before the Corona pandemic, up to 30 % of employees in traditional office jobs could work from home. In the group of specialists and experts probably even more (IAB 2020). The IAB also found that, for example, almost two thirds of employees who have not used a home office so far do not want to do so because a separation of work and private life is desired.
These figures show that no legislative impetus is needed to promote mobile working. On the contrary, where mobile working is possible, a corresponding offer to employees is part of the overall package in order to be able to be attractive as an employer in times of demographic change and a shortage of skilled workers, especially for young skilled workers.