Every year the D21 Digital Index provides a “situation report on the digital society” in Germany. The latest report for the years 2020/2021 is the first that includes the effects of the corona pandemic on digitalization. Between August 2019 and July 2020 participants of the study were asked about the degree of digitalization in German society. This time the study focused on digital work.
We want to present you the most important findings.
Twice as much mobile work
Restrictions to go out and the obligation to work from home, doubled the share of mobile work in the period the study was conducted, compared to the previous year. 32 percent of all surveyed at least partially used telework, a third of them for the first time because of Corona. “In this aspect the crisis enabled a change that often seemed impossible or not desirable in the previous years”, the creators of the study conclude.
Opposed to those, two thirds of the study participants still do not work from home nor use tele nor mobile work. For the majority of those, this is because in their professions they do not have the possibilities, even though 40 percent have a desk job. About 20 percent of all interviewees said that it is not possible at their company to work mobile (in the previous year it was 30 percent) and six percent claimed that their superiors do not support it.
Working from home: wishes vs. reality of employees
The Digital Index also addresses the topic of the future of work after the Corona crisis.
Professionals who experienced mobile work would like to keep the freedom of choice to work from home or anywhere else. So far most of them only do so about half of their working hours.
One third of the employees wishes for a better balance between going to the office and mobile work; only 14 percent are given this choice though. 37 percent of the interviewees would like to work less than half their working hours outside of the office. Only 10 percent would prefer to only work mobile, and another 10 percent would not choose mobile work at all.
In most companies the employees have a say when it comes to determining the share of digital work. Agreements are usually made individually with the superiors.
60 percent of those who would rather work mobile more often, do so less than half of their working hours. Then again half of those who worked mobile for the first time during the Corona pandemic or whose share of mobile work increased, would like to keep it that way. But about 75 percent of their executives do not offer them the opportunity; most of them, approximately 75 percent, work from home less than half of their working time themselves.
The necessary technical infrastructure
Mobile work requires mobile devices. Almost 69 percent of all employees with desk jobs are provided with one by their employers. Before the Corona crisis the lack of suitable software often impeded working from home. The pandemic has actually helped to improve this issue: In the period of the study more than twice as many collaboration tools, video conference applications and remote accesses were made available compared to the year prior. Consequently, a quarter of all employees now has access to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and a third was enabled to use video conference systems, VPN, or other means of remote access for telework.
Attitude towards digital work
It is obvious that not everyone regards digitalization as a positive development for the world of work. However, the Digital Index shows that about half of all study participants perceive the changes as positive rather than negative. Especially employees with a higher educational degree as well as leaders are convinced digitalization contributes to a better work-life-balance.
The majority of the people with lower formal education feels overwhelmed with digitalization. Only one third believes it brings more benefits than disadvantages. Hardly any employee feels sufficiently trained in terms of digitalization at their company.
We recommend to always accompany digital transformation with change management.
The creators of the study suggest that organizations that have hastily implemented a temporary solution for mobile working in the wake of the pandemic should now professionalize it.
Furthermore, the study draws the conclusion that companies should think again about obligating their staff to be in the office every day.
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