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Will mobile work become normal practice in the long term?

Will mobile work become normal practice in the long term?

Could it even become compulsory for companies to allow homeworking?

4/28/2020 Editor Irene Oksinoglu (Gastkommentatorin) Reading time: 3 Minutes
The Federal Minister of Labour, Hubertus Heil, calls for the right to work from home to be enshrined in law. Even after the coronavirus pandemic, everyone should be permitted to work from home, he believes. Irene Oksinoglu, Head of the FutureWork initiative at OTTO, explains whether and to what extent this makes sense

The question of whether homeworking will become the norm after the coronavirus pandemic is currently on the minds of many companies and employees. Opinions on the matter range from "definitely" or "we need homeworking by law" to "no, homeworking destroys social contacts" to a clear "maybe". It comes as no surprise that there are so many different opinions, because from my point of view, what is being implemented in some sectors with regard to homeworking addresses different levels:1. Organisational level2. Personal level3. Social level4. Cultural level

Mobile working is personal

Unfortunately, even I am no crystal ball reader. What I am sure of, however, is that because all these levels are addressed at the same time, there can be no one right or wrong solution that applies to everyone equally. Individual needs and personality structures will also have to be taken into account in the future. I also think that “homeworking” is too narrow a term. This is where I would like to define the term more broadly in the context of the New Work concept. Thanks to digitalisation, we can now work not only from home, but from anywhere (mobile working) - no matter the time or where we might be. Working like this makes a lot of sense for some people in certain contexts.For example, creatives can work better in certain work environments than in others. Why should I not decide for myself where and when is best for me to work? As far as I am concerned, this is what should be at the heart of the current debate!

Autonomous work culture

My prediction is that, in light of the recent experiences of homeworking, we will in future be able to create a much more socially accepted mixture of presence culture and mobile working. Each person would be able to work autonomously from wherever it is best for them personally and in the relevant context of the task at hand. We are finally moving away from the classic "nine to five" thinking and towards a flexible and autonomous work structure. This might involve working part-time from a location other than the office and then travelling to the office for certain meetings that merit it because of their social and emotional content, for example. That should be feasible. We are increasingly empowering ourselves to reconcile the four different levels mentioned above and in so doing improve our work culture.

Irene Oksinoglu It is neither wholly one approach nor the other that should become the rule, but a combination of the two!

Irene Oksinoglu

This is THE opportunity to rethink how we work and to reflect about ourselves: what makes me and my colleagues tick as a team, and which work processes, tools and communication channels suit me and our work context? How much "mobile working" can I or my team tolerate? It is neither wholly one approach nor the other that should become the rule, but a combination of the two!I very much hope that we seize the opportunity and create the framework, both politically and as a company, to work in a more autonomous way in the future and to let others work according to their own choices too.

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