New work, remote work, mobile working - terms that stand for a changed working world. High-performance internet, state-of-the-art computers and smartphones mean that activities, especially those to be done digitally, are no longer tied to fixed places and times. The Covid crisis in particular has strengthened the trend towards location-independent working. At times, almost 50 per cent of employees in Germany have worked from home. Globally, it is predicted that over 70 percent of employees will work remotely by 2028. For companies, the new working models offer new opportunities and potential - not only in terms of employer attractiveness, but also in order to successfully hold their own against the competition in the long term.
Remote work and home office - what is the difference?
Remote work means working from a distance. Employees can carry out their work from any location - provided they have a stable internet connection. As a generic term, remote work includes both working from home and so-called mobile working. Employees in the home office usually work within their own four walls. Home office is often used as a modern term for telework. According to the German Workplace Ordinance, home office workplaces are permanently furnished computer workstations in the private area of the employee. A fixed weekly working time and the duration of the home office set-up is agreed between the employer and the employee.
Employees who work in a co-working space or at another location of their choice, such as from a café, fall under the term "mobile working". They work in a completely flexible way, independent of time and location. As employees, they only have a work assignment when working on the move - they can determine their own working hours and locations. But: The German Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) also applies without restriction to location- and time-flexible working! Therefore, modern time recording methods are mandatory for companies that enable remote work.
Exploiting opportunities: the most important advantages of remote work for employers
While a few years ago it was mainly young start-up companies that recruited employees with home office and the like, the working world as a whole has changed. Many companies are changing their structures and breaking with old ways of thinking. Efficiency and productivity are no longer equated with mere presence in the office.
For companies, flexible working models pay off - above all, they become more attractive as employers. Companies that find it difficult to fill vacancies promptly in view of the shortage of skilled workers benefit from location-independent working. After all, they can draw from a large pool of talents and attract highly qualified employees who might not have applied without the remote work option. Working parents, employees with impairments or potential employees who reside in structurally weak regions: Remote work improves opportunities for employees with different lifestyles and prerequisites.
If employees work independently of location and time, company or office hours can be significantly extended. For example, there are employees who like to work in the early morning hours, while others would like to shift their core working hours to the afternoon and evening. This opens up new opportunities for competition - for example, shorter delivery times, longer shop opening hours or round-the-clock service. In many companies, flexible working hours and locations in particular have maintained performance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initial new costs for the corresponding remote-work framework conditions, such as investments in technical equipment, cyber security and co., are offset in the long term by decreasing costs due to the elimination of on-site office and parking space. Many companies cite cost savings as one of the main goals of remote work.
What do companies have to do to successfully establish remote work?
A trusting cooperation and corporate culture is essential for all flexible forms of work. With the right framework conditions, companies can make targeted use of the described advantages of remote work. In particular, companies that discover mobile working models for the first time must make adjustments to their organisational structure and develop new competencies.
Important core questions for the basic rules and guidelines of remote work:
- Where, when and how is the work done?
- Is there presence time in the office and if so, how much?
- How are working hours and absences recorded?
- Which digital tools should be used to organise meetings?
- How can communication within the team be maintained?
- Which company data (project data) should be accessible regardless of location and how will it be made available?
If the technical requirements are established, such as digital systems for time recording, the employees must be trained in their use. Clear, intuitive time recording systems such as prime WebTime are recommended. The modern form of time recording is not just an instrument for checking attendance, but also serves employees and managers for detailed planning. Home office days can be entered in advance. Working hours and holidays are flexibly booked regardless of location and documented in accordance with the legal requirements for recording working hours.
Regardless of how many days employees work in the office or work remotely: Decentralised working must always be accompanied by a good management culture and regulated communication between managers and employees. Especially the latter contributes decisively to team building. Regular online conferences with all employees as well as tools that promote a constant exchange are indispensable for companies that enable remote work. Combined with the necessary technical framework conditions, such as electronic time recording, companies receive a stable basis for successfully establishing new working models in an existing corporate culture.