Home, sweet home office: What you as a company have to watch out for when working remotely

by Marketing Team in — March 2020
Since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic and the drastic but necessary and extremely sensible measures taken by the government to reduce social contacts to an absolute minimum, many companies have been confronted with the "challenge" of home office.

Home office at Talentor

Talentor has been working in the home office since March 13. This works well because teleworking and trust-based working hours are standard for us and the infrastructure was prepared accordingly. Contact with our customers and candidates is not personal, but is still "normal" via phone, email or video chat. Companies that have so far avoided teleworking because they fear losing control over their employees are now faced with multiple challenges to think again, to find structures for teleworking and to move away from working time control to result monitoring.

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In addition to providing an adequate IT infrastructure, empathy is now required. The organizational psychologist Jennifer Chatman also advises employers in an interview with tagesschau.de. Companies and managers in particular must offer security in crisis situations such as the one we are currently in. Appreciation, trust and honesty are now particularly important for employers. In this way, the crisis can be overcome together from a distance in the home office.

We have collected some important information and tips about home office. First of all: Remote Work not only has advantages for employees, companies also benefit from the work of their employees from within their own four walls.

What employers have to consider at home offices

Do I have to provide equipment?

The employer only has to provide equipment for permanent remote work; this is not mandatory for temporary home offices. In this situation, however, it makes perfect sense to get laptops for all employees with all the necessary programs, virus protection and spyware. If employers provide hardware (such as monitors or keyboards), they are also responsible for their ergonomics in the home office.

Are employees insured in the home office?

As already mentioned, there is no clear legal regulation. The following applies here: It depends on the individual case. The employer cannot influence the risks of private accommodation. Anyone who stumbles on the way to the fridge or toilet is not insured. However, those who injure themselves in the home office while performing their professional activity can count on insurance protection. So if the laptop falls on its feet, it is a work accident that can be legally claimed. If accidents happen at home, you have to proceed in the same way as always in the case of work accidents.

Are employees in the home office bound in time?

The Working Hours Act also applies in the home office. It regulates the maximum working hours and also the break time. A maximum of 48 hours can be worked per week and after six hours a break of half an hour must be taken. If the company sets a core working time, employees should stick to it and be accessible to their colleagues. But here, too, communication and flexible solutions are required.

How is working time recorded?

Of course, this must also be managed correctly in the home office. If employees do not have access to the time recording system, the times have to be added. To make it easier for your employees, it makes sense to prepare a uniform document for everyone, which also supplements general regulations.

Arrange availability!

In order to avoid conflicts, it is advisable to agree on availability. The same applies to times of inaccessibility. Under no circumstances should teleworking be accompanied by 24/7 availability.

How do I deal with data protection?

It is advisable to set up a secure network (e.g. VPN, virtual private network). This enables secure communication and access to company data or the server. Remind your employees that data protection and confidentiality rules also apply at home. Company-owned devices should only be used by employees and not by family members.

The advantages of home office for companies

Home office gives freedom, flexibility and less control for the employer - when teleworking one thinks first of all of the advantages for employees. However, a study by Stanford University shows that home work also brings pluses for companies.

Under the title DOES WORKING FROM HOME WORK? EVIDENCE FROM A CHINESE EXPERIMENT, researchers from Stanford University spent two years studying the effects of remote work in a Chinese company. In this TedX Talk, director of studies Nicholas Bloom removes prejudices about home office in an amusing and scientific manner and summarizes the results of the study.

Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home | Nicholas Bloom | TEDxStanford:

1. Home office increases productivity

We found massive, massive improvement in performance — a 13 % improvement in performance from people working at home.

Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University

The researchers attribute two reasons for this upward trend in productivity. First: In the home office, the employees really work full time. Delays due to traffic jams, extended lunch breaks with colleagues or an early stop to make appointments are eliminated. Secondly, at home you are more concentrated or less distracted.

The office is actually an amazingly noisy environment. There’s a cake in the break room; Bob’s leaving, come join. The World Cup sweepstakes is going. Whatever it is, the office is super-distracting.

Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University

2. Home office increases employee retention

The study also shows that layoffs in the Chinese test company have dropped 50% since employees were allowed to work remotely.

3. Sick leave and absenteeism decrease

The increased productivity is also due to fewer sick leave. Firstly, because the potential for infection at home is lower and secondly, because sick leave is generally applied less quickly if employees can work in their own four walls.

For employees, they’re much more productive and happier. For managers, you don’t have to spend so much time recruiting and training people. For firms, you make far more profit. For society, there’s a huge saving of reducing congestion, driving times and, ultimately, pollution.

Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University

Have you convinced these arguments? Maybe home office is a benefit that you take away from the corona crisis.

The checklist: is your company ready for a Corona home office?

  1. Is home office basically regulated in your employment contracts?
    - Yes: Check whether these regulations cover longer periods in the home office
    - No: Get your employees' consent to remote work in this exceptional situation
  2. Are all employees equipped with hardware and software?
    - Not mandatory, but useful.
  3. Have you set up a VPN, a virtual private network?
  4. Did you inform employees about data protection regulations?
  5. Are the employees informed about the time record?
  6. Are core working hours or availability defined and communicated?
  7. Are regular appointments for telephone or video conferences organized within the teams?
The Future

And after the Corona crisis?

How companies behave in a crisis, how they deal with their employees and how they ensure their security (e.g. through the possibility of a home office) can have a major impact on how they will be perceived in society in the future and also influence their reputation.

Recruiting after the crisis — ©The Female Lead

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