Millions of people in Germany have been working from home for a good year. An end to the corona measures is not in sight for the time being. Not everyone is happy with it: whether single, family in home schooling or couples in small apartments – everyone has different requirements and different needs. Accordingly, most people experience working from home very differently.
Steelcase, a company that sells architecture, furniture and technology products for work spaces, conducted surveys of over 32,000 people about their mood in the home office. According to this, 38 percent perceive an increasing isolation at work from home. Almost a quarter say that decisions are made more slowly. While the work-life balance has improved in 37 percent and a good quarter appreciate the increased flexibility, productivity and commitment suffer in around a fifth.
The majority would like a hybrid approach
A majority of employees reject full work in the home office. Around half are dissatisfied with the current situation. And over 98 percent would like to return at least partially to the office. Many prefer a hybrid model of presence in the office and home office.
This wish of the employees coincides with the ideas of many companies. Only five percent of corporations worldwide and even only two percent in Germany want to switch completely to mobile working. 72 percent, on the other hand, see the work of the future in the hybrid model – in Germany at least 53 percent.
Five home office types
Steelcase has also identified behavior patterns in the home office and derived five types from them. It is noticeable that here, too, most people have mixed feelings about work from home.
Type 1: The isolated zoom user
For this type, the home office is above all lonely. The person lives alone. She lacks the external structure to enforce a healthy schedule for the day – that’s why she lacks the office. The spatial separation between office and home helps her achieve a good work-life balance. The commute acts as a transition between work and private life.
Also, this type lacks the personal and professional interactions in the office. The working day in the home office consists of a seemingly endless chain of zoom calls. Despite the virtual meetings, the employee feels isolated. Because it is precisely the spontaneous interactions in the office, the relationships with colleagues, that allow him to master the challenge.
Type 2: The autonomy seeker
This person is excited about the current work situation. For her, home office means freedom. She is just as productive at home as she is in the office and can work at her own pace – without having to keep looking down her neck.
In addition, she can work in different postures in different places – whether at the desk, in the kitchen or even in bed -, cook healthily and integrate various activities into everyday work. In contrast to the isolation type, self-determination in the home office increases well-being.
Type 3: The frustrated, creative networker
This type has mixed feelings about the home office. Both work and private life are neglected. On the one hand, he longs for everyday office life, but is also unsure about returning. He got along quickly and well with digital tools, but considers them unsuitable for realizing spontaneous and creative collaboration. The pandemic is also a challenge for this type. Because he is cut off from the personal contacts that actually provide him with new impulses.
Type 4: The revised supervisor
Overworked carers constantly have to cope with contradicting requirements in the home office: meetings and piling up workloads on the one hand, childcare, home schooling and household chores on the other. Whether alone or in shifts with a partner: exhaustion and feelings of guilt are part of everyday life.
However, this person can also have mixed feelings about the home office. On the one hand, she misses the office because there she leaves domestic and educational responsibilities behind and can concentrate fully on her work. On the other hand, she also likes the flexibility in the home office with regard to the design and balance of work and family life.
Type 5: The relieved self-defender
Covid-19 worries this type very much – and only working from home provides security. He wants to protect himself and his fellow human beings as best as possible and therefore finds working in the home office a relief. Because the absence of contacts in the office makes the person less tense and therefore more productive. In the safe environment, she can concentrate fully on completing her tasks without putting anyone at risk.
Steelcase points out that the types should be read as overdrawings, which should clarify the needs people develop in the home office. Of course, the same person could find himself in different behavioral patterns on different days. However, experience in the home office would fundamentally influence the demands on working environments and requirements in the future.