Berlin The appeals and new regulations with regard to more home office in Corona times are apparently having an effect. At the end of January, 24 percent of the workforce was working mainly or exclusively from home, as a new survey by the union-related Hans Böckler Foundation shows. In November the rate was significantly lower at 14 percent.
“The development is gratifying,” said Bettina Kohlrausch, scientific director of the Institute for Economic and Social Sciences (WSI) belonging to the foundation. However, the survey also shows that it was only the enormous public pressure – including from the trade unions – and finally the action of politics that led to greater home office spreading.
In January, the federal government passed a stricter corona occupational health and safety ordinance. Since then, employers have been obliged to offer employees in office and comparable activities to work from home “if there are no compelling operational reasons”.
Estimates of the proportion of workplaces for which home office would at least theoretically be possible range from 40 percent (DIW) to more than 50 percent (Ifo). Of the employed people surveyed by the Böckler Foundation, 39 percent stated that they were able to do their work without restriction or to a large extent also at home.
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In fact, in January, in addition to the 24 percent who regularly used the home office, another 14 percent of those surveyed worked at least temporarily from home or on the go. However, 60 percent continued to come exclusively or predominantly to the office or company – six percentage points less than in November. In the first lockdown in April, however, the rate was only 53 percent.
Criticism of persistent presence culture
The survey is based on the fourth wave of the labor force survey by the Hans Böckler Foundation, for which more than 6,200 employees and job seekers were surveyed at the end of January. The same sample had already been interviewed in April, June and November 2020. The respondents represent the labor force in Germany in terms of gender, age, education and federal state.
Almost five percent of all respondents continued to work predominantly in the company, although they actually wanted to reduce their presence work further and consider their work to be suitable for home office. This indicates that many companies continue to put pressure on employees to appear at their workplace. Even with a cautious estimate, one must assume that “a few hundred thousand workers will still be affected,” said WSI data expert Helge Emmler.
More: How the home office becomes a brake on creativity in many companies – and what managers can do