Corona radically changes our working lives

February 14, 2022 – 3:49 pm hour

The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to permanently change the world of work: Many employees want to continue working from home for at least a few days even after the pandemic is over, so companies need fewer jobs. But a change in the organization of work also carries risks, say scientists.

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More home offices may fuel jealousy among employees

Employers usually prefer to see their employees in the company. The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically accelerated the rethinking process here: According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Baua), more than 50 percent of companies with more than 250 employees wanted to expand the home office by mid-2020. Employees love working from home, and most – And more often than before. “Many people are working longer at home because they no longer have to travel to work,” says Hannah Scheid of the Leibniz Institute for Labor Research at the University of Dortmund. “The time you would have spent on the train or in the car is given to the employer, so to speak.”

As a result, companies need fewer local jobs. “This will result in the majority of employees wanting to come to the office on certain days of the week,” explains Niclas Backhaus, a work organization specialist. But this has drawbacks. Small example: According to surveys, Monday and Friday are the most popular days to work at home. If the majority of the workforce wants to work in the company from Tuesday to Thursday, it can become very crowded in smaller offices. “If offices are occupied three days a week, you may have to tell employees who can come to the office on what days,” Backhouse says.

According to Backhaus, dissatisfaction can also stem from the difference between home workers and those who are indispensable to the company: “If those who already had privileges during the pandemic because they could work at home could retain these privileges after the pandemic or even expansion then coupled It increases inequality in the company,” says the scientist. “Something like that could have a huge impact on the peace of the company.”

Flexible work reduces stress? Better not!

Flexible work as such is common among workers. Making work hours and work locations more flexible boosts job satisfaction, says Hannah Scheid of the Leibniz Institute in Dortmund. But at the same time the “pressing option” increases accordingly. To put it bluntly: those who have the choice are spoiled for choice – and they have to regulate themselves.

In addition, employees rarely have their own personal desks. Instead, there are communal tables, ‘shared offices’ as they are called in management terminology. As a result, employees in many companies have to book their offices electronically. Once workers are forced to organize vacancies, this naturally leads to frustration. At first glance, neatly calculated desks seem cheaper to the business owner, Shady says. But change that benefits everyone – including the employer by increasing long-term productivity and increasing employee satisfaction – isn’t cheap, says the scientist. It is desirable to use different types of rooms for different activities and enough space for all activities carried out by the employees.

70 percent less direct communication through open offices

Such open-plan offices reduce contact between employees.

© German News Agency

According to Shady, there are still no large-scale scientific studies on flexi desks. On the other hand, the usual open-plan offices have already been thoroughly scrutinized.

Accordingly, they tend to deteriorate communication throughput. “You can save space in open-plan offices, but you can’t count on increased productivity. Especially when people feel like they’re being watched,” Shady says.

It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a high level of noise in the office means stress. Accordingly, the large-scale workforce is encouraged to work as quietly as possible. As a result, connectivity suffers: For a British study published in 2018, scientists removed departments from desks. The result: the number of in-person conversations decreased by 70 percent. (dpa/zre)

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