It was perhaps three years ago that I met a colleague in the parking lot of our Cologne office who was pushing a PC with monitor and keyboard towards the office complex on a handcart. Ah, I thought at the time, so this is what mobile work at TÜV Rheinland looks like.

Coronavirus pandemic offers a crash course in digitalization

One pandemic and what feels like two digital eras later, location-independent work at TÜV Rheinland now looks completely different. During the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, many employees around the globe worked from home – and many of them still do.

Now is a good opportunity to take a look at the experiences and insights we can take away for the way we work from this crash course in digitalization. What should the future of mobile work at TÜV Rheinland look like?

Quality of work does not suffer when working from home

From July to August of this year, we launched a worldwide survey in Global HR Development & Diversity, in which a good 250 Group executives took part. Feedback from Greater China to the Americas shows that at TÜV Rheinland we “tick” in more similar way than expected. Of course, there are regional differences, even in Europe, but the most surprising thing for me was that we have a broad consensus on many key aspects of mobile work.

For example, 61 percent of the managers surveyed agreed that the quality of work had not changed when working from home; 28 percent even thought it had improved somewhat or considerably. More than half of them can imagine a working model for the future in which people work outside the office one or two days a week. One in three even considers three days outside the office to be feasible. Desk sharing, where not everyone in the team has an assigned, personal workplace, is also a realistic scenario for more than 30 percent of those surveyed.

%

"quality of work had not changed when working from home"

%

"social interaction with colleagues is missing"

Mobile Work is a relief for commuters

Among the positive effects, the elimination of commuting times was one of the top answers given in all regions, closely followed by greater flexibility (including a better work-life balance) and the realisation that people can work in a more focused way. And what were the biggest challenges? Maybe surprisingly, the main aspects mentioned were neither a lack of trust nor a perceived loss of control. However, 70 percent of the managers said that they had difficulty understanding team spirit or morale over a distance, while 66 percent of those surveyed missed the social interaction with colleagues. Video conferences and the virtual water cooler do have their limits after all.

Welcome to the mobile working world of laptops and the FlexOffice

What are we taking away from this? Mobile work will continue to be an integral part of TÜV Rheinland’s culture of work in the future. We have done a good job passing the test run for this. But now comes the trickier part when it is about translating this into agreements and a clear policy. The Industrie Service unit in Germany is already making progress in this respect. This business unit is the only one to date to have generally agreed to replace all desktop PCs with laptops by the end of the year. The Cologne site is also taking a closer look at the FlexOffice model. This model allows workstations to be booked online via an app, for example if appointments are pending at the site. The rest of the time the teams work from home. Well done, that’s what I call a clear step towards digital transformation. I wouldn’t mind having more of that.

Author

SABINE HAGER

SABINE HAGER

HRD & DIVERSITY

Sabine Hager is Diversity Manager in HRD & Diversity at TÜV Rheinland and is convinced that the diversity of the workforce is an important contribution to corporate success and employee satisfaction. Only in an open and unprejudiced corporate culture can all employees*develop their full potential. Equal opportunities – also in the management positions of the economy – is just as important to her as the compatibility of career and family. That’s a topic that she can also push personally in her latest project as a granny.

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