The guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) for better home office aim to balance office presence and home office work. The ministry recommends not relying solely on home office work. These guidelines are not binding but serve as recommendations.

BMAS acknowledges that hybrid work models increase flexibility and improve work-life balance. Additionally, they provide opportunities for people with disabilities to participate more in the workforce and facilitate reintegration after long periods of incapacity.

However, this new form of collaboration imposes higher and different demands on all parties involved. According to the labour ministry, employers must find fair and safe solutions for work design, even in the absence of telework agreements.

Employees must self-organize more, while managers face the challenge of leading remotely, keeping teams across various locations connected, and managing information flow.

The 7 steps for designing good hybrid screen work:

  1. Define terms, application areas, and goals
  2. Determine suitable mobile screen activities
  3. Establish time frames for hybrid screen work
  4. Set regulations for cost distribution or assumption
  5. Conduct risk assessments, determine and implement measures
  6. Inform and instruct employees
  7. Monitor the effectiveness of measures and adjust if necessary

The ministry emphasizes the importance of involving employees and their representatives in the process of establishing hybrid work guidelines. According to the ministry's observations, hybrid work usually functions well when there are rules for home office work at the company or collective level.

In recent years, the concept of working from home has become increasingly popular. However, it wasn’t always seen as a legitimate way of working. Before the pandemic, many people were skeptical of the idea, assuming that those who worked from home were simply trying to get away with doing household chores instead of working. However, when the pandemic hit, many people were forced to work from home, and they soon discovered that it could actually be a very effective way of working.

Research Results

According to a study conducted by the Allensbach Institute, only six percent of top executives in business, politics, and administration believe that working from home is only a temporary phenomenon. Instead, the vast majority of those surveyed believe that remote working is here to stay. As a result, companies that want to attract top talent will need to allow their employees to work from wherever they choose.

The pandemic has completely upended the traditional office model, according to Thomas Olek, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of office real estate investor Publity. Olek admits that he was a long-time opponent of remote working, but he has since changed his mind. He now believes that remote working will become even more important in the future. In fact, 97 percent of those surveyed in the Allensbach study believe that future employees should be given the option of remote working.

Not everybody can work from home

However, it’s important to note that not everyone can work from home. People who work in manufacturing, healthcare, or other industries may not be able to work remotely. Furthermore, some people prefer to work in an office environment, even if they have the option of working from home. To ensure that there is no division between those who work in the office and those who work remotely, companies need to be mindful of the needs of all their employees.

One consequence of the rise of remote working is that there will be a reduced need for office space. However, the office spaces that do remain will need to be of a higher quality. Employees will want offices that are larger, more modern, and centrally located. The days of cramped cubicles are over. Instead, the offices of the future will be open, airy spaces that are designed to promote collaboration and creativity.

Summary

In summary, the pandemic has transformed the way we work. Remote working is no longer seen as a luxury but rather as a necessity. However, companies need to ensure that they don’t focus exclusively on remote working at the expense of the traditional office model. By finding a balance between the two, companies can create a working environment that meets the needs of all their employees.

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Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung

The dietary and exercise behaviour of many people has changed significantly in recent months, especially during the pandemic period with a home office. Working from home has become increasingly important.

It is important for companies to have employees who are sick less often. Companies can consciously tax their share and thus actively promote and strengthen their employees' health.

Company home office health management

Süddeutsche health insurance, in cooperation with the Nuremberg-based mhplus health insurance company, published the study “Healthy Home Office”. In this study, 65% of respondents stated that they prefer to work from their home office rather than in the office.

Regardless of whether they work from home or in the office, employees should exercise regularly, eat as balanced and healthy a diet as possible, and get enough sleep. All these topics are considered in occupational health management. 

The topic is becoming increasingly important in recent years. Thus there are already special projects in different European countries, which concern themselves exactly with the topics mentioned before.

For example, the National Council has newly regulated the topic of “home office” in the Employment Contract Law Amendment Act (German: AVRAG). Our neighbor Austria has also addressed the issue and developed a strategy paper. The focus was on the needs of employees and companies.

And the courts are also increasingly having to deal with the issue when it comes to deciding, for example, who pays in the event of accidents in the home office and whether this accident is considered an occupational accident.

Which brings us to the question: May or must the employer take care of health management in the home office?

It is important to know here that the actual occupational health management (OHM) is company-related. In the home office, it has been difficult for companies to measure the health of their employees. Until now, however, because this is where companies are now taking action. Attempts are being made to introduce health-promoting standards specifically for home office work. The home office concept is much more self-sufficient and deviates in many ways from the classic concept of workplace health management, as employees now no longer work together in one place.

To date, occupational health management has been subdivided into the following areas:

In BGM, the focus is on developing the corporate environment to promote health in traditional offices. Workplace health promotion is more broadly defined, as it encompasses all measures taken jointly by the company and its employees, as well as society, and is therefore not just focused on the workplace.

Mobile health promotion (German: MGF) as an approach

Certainly, there are people who spend their entire lives in the same company. And yet, mobile working from home as well as on the road is becoming increasingly popular. This is evidenced by concepts such as coworking, coliving and workation.

The MGF here could be broken down as follows:

In the classic and yet very rigid BGM, dynamic work content has been considered, but not dynamic workplaces. They are focused on a specific company. With MGF, the focus is more modular.

Now the focus is on creating opportunities to become healthier and, above all, to stay healthy. For example, small movement breaks and sports exercises can be integrated into the daily work routine quite easily.

Health management rethought

By no means every company is enthusiastic about home office. However, a rethink is now taking place in many executive suites. The work environment is becoming increasingly dynamic, but should still be resistant to crises. A more resilient working environment and infrastructure not only supports our daily lives, but also the resilience of the economy and society.

The pandemic has shown us that it is possible to transfer an office job to the home office. Of course, this does not apply to classic factory work, as special machines are sometimes used here.

However, let’s keep in mind that everyone is different. There are people who love to work from the home office, while others consciously want to spatially separate private and professional life and therefore prefer to work in the office. Others work alternately from the home office and in the office. Personal sensitivities sometimes play an important role here. For example, many people prefer to work from home if they suffer from back pain or period cramps. These pains often do not warrant sick leave and are easier to cure from home.

Whatever the future holds. We must learn to adapt and become more mentally flexible, as this will help us get through the new era better and healthier.

Creating new structures

The MGF should not only manage, but exploit existing potentials so that suffering and illnesses do not break out in the first place. The solution to this is regular health care and awareness. One that is neither excessive nor forced. Our health is our most important resource. Therefore, the care of our health needs to be rethought.

At its best, health should be organized through technical interfaces and independent partners. We would be happy to help you organize and coordinate appropriate health management measures. Simply arrange a non-binding consultation with us.

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* Source: Der Standard (German)

Have your employees been working from a home office for the majority of the last few months?

If so, Mr. Habeck’s possible renewed plans to make home office work compulsory over Christmas should not affect you very much.

Working from home is a great thing, as long as you as a company ensure that your employees do not incur any additional costs.

Energy crisis with effects on working from home?

Should there really be a complete gas supply freeze from Russia in the near future, you as a company are required to offer a fair and flexible home office arrangement for your employees. Corresponding plans by the Bundesbank have already announced. It is therefore all the more important that corresponding home office allowances are permanently established in tax law. The restriction to a maximum of 120 days and thus also the limitation of deductible expenses to 600 euros must be abolished. Currently, employees can deduct 5 euros from their taxes for each working day spent in the home office, up to a maximum of 600 euros per year.

But is a possibly again planned home office obligation really a nicely meant offer or perhaps only a trick of the enterprises, in order to save energy?

Different political opinions

This question is currently occupying the “Linkspartei” (Left Party). They are therefore calling for companies to be held accountable. They should be obliged to pay all the energy costs incurred by employees in their home offices. The additional costs must not be “passed on” to the employees.

The SPD and “Die Grünen” (the Greens) have so far held back on the issue and possible relief. In their eyes, financial relief for home office options is basically a good concern. They are now planning to look at various regulations relating to home office in the second half of the year and make improvements. 

In the event of an energy shortage, the Bundesbank is considering closing offices in the fall and winter. The possibilities of supplying heat only to certain floors or parts of the building and thus reducing the heat supply to a minimum are also currently being examined.

It remains to be seen if and when the new regulations will take effect and whether they will really lead to tax relief for your employees.

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