The global pandemic forced companies to minimize employee presence in the office. During the lockdown, one out of every two employees worked entirely or partially from home whenever possible. Even though many companies returned their employees to work in presence after the lockdown ended, one in five still works partially or completely remotely. Before the Corona crisis, on average only four out of ten companies had their employees working off the office premises.
The terms home office and mobile working are often used synonymously, although they are different forms that must be clearly distinguished from one another.
In this article, we explain precisely these differences and what advantages these forms of work involve, but also what challenges they pose:
The technically correct term for home office is "teleworking". The place of work is clearly defined: a fixed workplace in the employee's own home or partly at home and partly in the office (alternating teleworking). In this case, the employer is obliged to set up the workplace on the employee's premises. The set-up includes work equipment such as laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, as well as actual office equipment such as desks and desk chairs. These items for working in a home office are regulated by the Workplace Ordinance and are specified in the employment contract between the employer and the employee. In the employment contract, it is agreed what percentage of the weekly working time the employee will work in the home office and how much equipment will be provided by the employer.
Mobile working or remote working is a form of location-independent working. Employees do not have a fixed workplace and perform their work without fixed hours. They can either work from home, in a café or from a co-working space. So far, there are no clear legal regulations for mobile working. Employers are also not obligated to financially support necessary work equipment here. However, if a company offers remote work, it is recommended that at least laptops and monitors be provided so that employees can perform their work reasonably and in the interests of the employer.
Important: for the home office as well as for mobile working, the The Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Working Hours Act apply.
Advantages and challenges
Taking into account the activities and corporate culture, companies must consider whether and to what extent offering home office or mobile working makes sense. Even though hybrid working models are now standard in many companies and offer many advantages, it also poses challenges for employers and employees.
Advantages of home office and mobile working for the employer
For the employer, this primarily results in a cost advantage due to the space savings. More and more companies are switching to work models that assume that not all employees will ever be on site, which means less office space is needed. This reduces both the cost of the rent itself and the level of ancillary costs.
In addition, both forms of work contribute to a more positive image of the company, as they suggest modernity and flexibility. For many employees and applicants, the option of working partly or entirely from home is now even an important criterion for or against a company.
For vacancies that can be filled entirely remotely, the additional advantage here is that geographical limitations no longer play a major role in the search for new employees. This means that employees can also be hired who are currently unable or unwilling to relocate for a position.
Challenges of home office and mobile working for the employer
Models in which employees work wholly or partially off the premises require a solid foundation of trust on the part of the employer. The employer must be able to ensure that tasks are performed satisfactorily and that working hours are adhered to. In addition, appropriate structures must also first be created for these work models, especially in companies for which home office or mobile working was absolutely uncharted territory before the pandemic.
Advantages of home office and mobile working for the employee
Employees are particularly pleased with both forms of work because of the time saved by not having to travel to work. This in turn provides more free time and less stress for employees. In a study by Malakoff Mederic, as many as 85 percent of respondents said they were less tired and less likely to be stressed outside the office, which in turn has a very positive effect on their well-being.
These forms of work also create a great deal of flexibility. For the most part, employees can adjust working hours to suit their personal needs, which makes it easier for many to balance family and career. Although certain framework conditions are usually agreed between the company and employees, these often only define a very rough framework and most of it is the responsibility of the employees.
Challenges of home office and mobile working for the employee
For employees it is essential to create a suitable working atmosphere at home or on the road. Especially if there are other people or children living in the household and perhaps the premises do not allow for setting up a protected work area. This quickly creates distractions. There is also a lack of interaction with colleagues, which can have a negative impact on team cohesion and the sense of belonging.
On the one hand, this makes it easier to balance work and private life, but on the other hand, it can mean that there is no clear separation between work and private life. The lack of a commute is then often used to start work earlier and finish later. The temptation is high to check e-mails "just for a moment" even in the late evening, on the weekend or when sick, because the necessary equipment for access is almost permanently available, and the boundaries between work and free time become blurred.
The trend toward working increasingly from home or on the move will continue to accompany employees and employers in the future. It is essential for companies to at least establish hybrid working models in the corporate culture. Even if, for many employers, this means that new and sustainable structures have to be created here. Many employees, on the other hand, would not want to miss this newfound flexibility after the pandemic. However, it is particularly important for employees to create a suitable working atmosphere within their own four walls. In the following article, you will find an overview of how your home office can also become a success.