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See you in the Home Office!

For those of you who haven’t noticed: Digitalization is changing the world of work and home office (or remote work) is revolutionizing our everyday working life. We are independent of location and therefore more flexible in our time management. Work and private life can be better combined. All we need is a smartphone, a laptop, and a stable internet connection

Home Office is better than its Reputation

In essence this sounds really good! Nevertheless, companies still have reservations about their staff working from home. Managers envisage their employees sleeping comfortably in their home office in the morning. Perhaps they prefer to make themselves comfortable on the couch, only too happy to be distracted from work. This is where trust is required. That can’t really be so difficult, can it? Many employees regularly spend time in other branches, at customers’ premises or at trade fairs anyway.

In the current situation, the Federal Ministry of Health advises people to avoid travelling, public transport and to work from home where possible. This offers all doubters the perfect opportunity to give home office and remote workers a real chance. Just see how easy and uncomplicated cross-location collaboration can be.

Important Tools and Software for Remote working

To stay in touch, there is a wide range of hardware and software for chat, video or telephone conferencing. Surely it does not always have to be the high-end solution. Many employees are already equipped with a laptop and a smartphone. An easy solution, sufficient for most scenarios would be to simply have a laptop and a headset.

Good solutions to manage the collaboration of remote workers across locations are also available. When choosing the right solution, one should make sure that it can be easily integrated into existing work processes. The operation should be intuitive and the solution must offer sufficient possibilities for interaction. Providers such as Microsoft, Cisco or Google currently even offer their collaboration tools in trial versions, free of charge.

Do everything from Home with Penta Online Banking

As previously mentioned, the technology is basically available. As the founder of a start-up, you are usually open to new technologies. You do your banking online. For example, with Penta’s online business account: Depending on the plan, you can get up to five company credit cards for you and your employees. With this service, you can simply enter receipts online. Neither cards nor receipts are handed over personally. No more trips to the bank! You save time and effort, and in the current situation online banking also minimises risk of infection for you and your employees.

Where is the (Communication) Culture?

We are approaching real challenges with big steps: A corporate culture based on trust and an open, honest communication culture in which it is possible to call a spade a spade. Some people will miss the chat in the coffee kitchen or the nice colleagues from the smokers’ corner more than others. We must attempt however to build up a strong sense of togetherness despite the physical distance. But in times of social media and worldwide networking, it has long been part of our everyday life to stay in touch.

Building a communication culture successfully is dependent upon the leader. Management must provide the labour law foundation and a cloud-based infrastructure. That’s when managers come into play: they must not make any distinction between employees in the office and employees in the home office. The manager who now claims that they lack transparency, consequently not knowing what their remote workers are doing all day has clearly failed in his management task.

Managers who set clear goals and binding deadlines, who discuss productivity and performance with their employees in regular meetings and who do not ignore remote workers in salary negotiations can rely on a motivated team that delivers the required performance, regardless of location.

My Home (Office) is my castle

Fact: Not every employee has their own perfectly equipped study room at home. Some have certainly been taken quite by surprise with the instruction to work temporarily in the home office. Opinions on suitable workplaces vary widely: some say you can work anywhere. In a café, outside in the fresh air, in the kitchen. Others adhere strictly to the German workplace ordinance (ArbStättV). It says that for a workplace, there must always be enough space, ergonomic office furniture, sufficiently large monitors and good light.

Either way, there are a few very simple tips and tricks – crisis or no crisis – that employees can use to make their (working) life in the home office easier.

6 Tips to make working from home easier

  1. Find your place: Those who work from home should try to keep work and leisure time physically separate. Ideally, you can simply close the door after work.
  2. Just pretend I’m not here! Unless your house is on fire, blood is running or other life-threatening crises are imminent, make it clear to your roommates or family that you do not want to be disturbed.
  3. Routine is boring. But helpful! Remote Working does not free you from showering, brushing your teeth or getting dressed. Do what you would normally do before going to the office.
  4. That’s it! Home office does not mean working every minute you spend at home. Those who work remotely have regular working hours just like their colleagues in the office. The same applies to the entitlement to breaks and the end of work.
  5. Temporarily ‘unavailable’. Remote or not, no employee is permanently available. Even in the office, not every call/email can be answered immediately. If you are busy with other jobs and are unavailable to colleagues, simply leave an auto-reply message so that you can work unhindered. 
  6. Just a quick chat. When the coffee kitchen and smoking area are no longer required, there are other ways to stay in touch with colleagues. Why don’t you just make a call? Ask how they are. Or use the video conferencing tools to present your office to colleagues.

What we can learn from the Crisis

Digitalisation has already changed our working world. We have to reorganise ourselves to establish home office and remote working in everyday work. Finding the right technologies is initially a time-consuming process. A good way is to test various tools in a small group first. And perhaps not to introduce too many new tools at once. But the real challenge is the cultural change. Those who succeed in maintaining the team spirit despite the distance will have started successfully building a future with the inclusion of loyal and motivated employees.