June 22, 2021 – As the pandemic begins to recede in many countries, it has become clear how much the coronavirus has changed the world of work. A year ago, we started to transform our spaces, our time management and how we performed our jobs. In a recent report, Natascha Zeljko, editor-in-chief at FemaleOneZero, and experts from Horton International Germany examined the pandemic work trends that will help us move forward. For starters, the COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that good leadership is influenced by several key human factors: trust, social cohesion even with social distancing, compassion, respect, solidarity, understanding, personal responsibility, flexibility, and tolerance. All of these ingredients make up the cement that holds us together in such challenging times.
“In just a few days, these values became the theme of remote leadership,” said the report. “Supportive leadership was in demand. Issues of workload and time management have taken on greater significance during the crisis. The possibility of working from home has mutated from benefit to necessity overnight.”
Indeed, any corporate culture is characterized by the degree of flexibility and supportiveness with which it reacts to new circumstances. The strength of a culture always emerges if it can stand the test of time in a changing environment. In today’s world, employees have to take even greater personal responsibility, to organize themselves well and manage their energy realistically: How much can or should I expect of myself? The ambassadors of a good corporate culture are employees and managers alike.
The technology was already there, but no one was using it. Before the coronavirus, who could have imagined holding workshops and conferences virtually? Or testing out hybrid models? The courage to try things out, to improvise, to fail sometimes and to pivot towards a new direction – that’s what’s new. This new mindset won’t leave us after COVID-19. And neither will the certainty that everything that can be made digital, should be made digital. Plus, everything that promotes innovation should not be put on the back shelf – despite the old urge to save money.
“Before the pandemic, virtual events were the exception rather than the rule,” said Martin Krill, managing partner for Horton International Germany. “But ever since the virus took hold of everything, everyone has realized that hardly any areas are exempt from digitalization.”
In the future, the key aspect of tech will not be the technology itself, but man-machine interaction, says Marion A. Weissenberger-Eibl, head of the Department of Innovation and Technology Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Technology only unfolds its full potential in its interaction with a modern organization of labor and motivated employees.
“Virtual and augmented reality in man-machine interaction are just now moving from the experimental phase into widespread commercial use,” said Monika Becker, business unit director software for Horton International Germany. “But this will not be the end of its development. In the coming years, we will see machines grasp and control increasingly complex situations. The consequences of this close human-machine interaction will dominate discourse in the coming years: the opportunities, such as accessibility and the expanded possibilities of human action, but also the risks, such as hacker attacks and misunderstandings in man-machine communication.”
A Different Approach to Work
We all know by now that the home office is one solution, but not the ultimate solution – and especially not the permanent solution. The office as a physical location will by no means disappear, said the report. On the contrary, it will even be given an upgrade and a new quality. Concretely, as the central place for meetings and close collaboration, and in its more abstract significance, as the location of each firm’s specific corporate culture. It’s literally in the air. Anyone who enters a company’s office for the first time senses it immediately – for better or for worse. What will certainly change, however, is the interplay of different working formats. People will choose the best option according to individual or situational needs: home office, in-house, co-working spaces or mobile working.
The pressure on business metropolises has been enormous in recent years, and prices have become astronomical. The pandemic has massively slowed down the Tokyoization of German city centers. Because look, there’s another way – a better way. Less traffic, more space in open-plan offices. Less stress, more time for exercise, because we don’t need to commute anymore.
“Germany and the whole world are experiencing a true transformation,” said Sahar Faraji, business unit manager construction and real estate at Hager Unternehmersberatung. “For some it’s a positive one, for others it’s harmful, but everyone is affected. The center of the metropolitan areas has lost its appeal, because people now have the internet for shopping, their own four walls to work in, and they can meet in the village for coffee. We’ll see whether this will affect office pricing in the next few years: There are still many investors and project developers who invest in inner-city commercial real estate. Therefore, any iron-tight prophecy for future development should certainly be viewed with some skepticism.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media