Before you form an opinion about home office, you should consider the home office requirements and home office advantages and disadvantages. This is exactly what we would like to make easier for you in the course of this text. Home office is on everyone’s lips these days. For some, it is already part of everyday working life, for others it is still a dream of the future. Opinions differ as to whether working at home is superior to working in the office. Take a look for yourself now.
Home office requirements: What you need to know
There are both company and legal home office requirements. However, companies still have sole decision-making power. Only they currently determine whether employees are allowed to work in a home office or not. There is no generally applicable right to home office for employees. The requirements for working from home are therefore generally logical. Someone who works in the job every day only with the PC and acts very freely could certainly work well from home. Those who depend on materials in the office or in production are much less able to change the place of work. At best, the home office requirements are generally defined in the company. Rules defined in this way can be applied to all employees. Supervisors only implement the rules and thus prevent unequal treatment. If home office is to be considered a regular part of work, the company and employee can also conclude a supplementary agreement. In this contract, documentation obligations, overtime and availability regulations can be agreed as home office requirements.
Legal Home Office Requirements (Germany)
Various legal requirements that companies must observe also apply to the home office, however, or especially so:
Working Hours Act:
The legally stipulated working hours may not be exceeded even in the home office. The company must ensure that employees observe their rest periods. Employees must also continue to observe the ban on Sundays and public holidays in their work. It is therefore a home office requirement that employers provide a functioning time recording system.
Occupational health and safety:
Employers must also protect their employees in the home office. Even if there are no mandatory inspections, the working conditions should at least be thoroughly inquired. Ergonomic office chairs, high-quality displays and the like help to ensure occupational safety at home as well.
Data protection also plays an important role in the home office. Home office requirements can therefore also include the ability to protect company data. This also places a responsibility on employees. They must ensure that they have exclusive access to company hardware such as PCs and cell phones. Family members must not have access either. There should be no private use.
Home office advantages and disadvantages
Once the home office requirements have been clarified, it’s down to the nitty gritty. As before any other decision, the advantages and disadvantages should be pointed out. This is exactly the step we will spare you.
Home Office Advantages
The home office can offer advantages both for employees and through companies. Employees who work from home are spared the need to commute. This saves money and CO2 emissions of the employees. At best, the employer benefits from rested, relaxed employees. Without traffic jams and stressful public transportation, the day gets off to a better start. Employees can also flexibly organize their working day. Those who are less creative after lunch can extend their break and work longer in the evening. This increases productivity and boosts satisfaction. A Stanford University study found that productivity increases by an average of 9% in the home office. In addition to the flexibility and productivity gained, there are also very practical home office benefits. For example, the risk of contagion during waves of illness is extremely reduced.
Home Office Disadvantages
Of course, the home office offers not only advantages, but also disadvantages. While the high flexibility brings many positives, it also conditions several of the home office disadvantages. In the home office, the daily routine is not pre-structured. For employees who, however, like to act within the framework of certain structures, this can make work more difficult. Employees are also more likely to be self-motivated than in the office. For those who already had a hard time getting going without a workgroup in college or school, working from home is probably not the best recommendation either. In addition, the flexibility means that work life mixes more quickly with private life. Employees find it harder to switch off and shorten recovery periods. Social isolation is also considered one of the most important of all home office disadvantages. Even the most introverted person needs to interact with colleagues after a while. Social contacts, even outside the family, are extremely important for the well-being of most people.
Allow home office: Yes or No?
Whether or not you give your employees the option of a home office remains your own decision. In Germany, there is no legal right whatsoever for employees to have a home office. The situation is different in the Netherlands. There, there has already been a legal right to home office since 2015. A similar law could also come in Germany in the next few years. That’s why it can make sense to deal with the issue early on and make sensible arrangements. These can differ from company to company. However, if you clarify the home office requirements now and give employees more freedom, you can benefit from higher productivity and employee satisfaction. At best, the company also positions itself as an attractive, flexible employer in the region. However, the home office pros and cons also show that home office works best in alternation with an office presence. So it’s still a bit too early to do away with the office altogether.