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Office 2.0: What the pandemic has taught us
We are back in the office, and it feels great. Coming back has shed a new light on how needs and mentalities differ – differences that were already there but now more clearly on the radar.
Office 2.0
Like many companies, we at MÄHREN AG were also almost working entirely from home during the lockdown – and had some surprisingly positive experiences. But: As our team gradually returned to the office, it also became clear how important the physical presence of colleagues can be. Albeit not for everybody, and not in all situations.

For some, working in a team is actually like a team sport: The individuals have to deliver, but that only succeeds together. There is mutual motivation, taking the weight off each other’s shoulders and providing mental assurance, which can be important for example if – as is common in the real-estate sector – large amounts of money are involved. This kind of support, the emotional factor, can hardly be provided in a conference call.

Others need the creative and intellectual exchange: brainstorming, sparring among colleagues. That can be done virtually to a certain extent, but perhaps not quite as effectively as in person, face to face. And still others require above all peace and quiet for their work processes and are perhaps even quite pleased that they do not have to have much direct contact.

Accommodating individual needs

None of this is anything new, but the differences in individual characters and departments are simply that more noticeable after a few weeks or even months away from the office. And then it also becomes clear how Office 2.0 must be tailored to the various characteristics of those working in it.

Fundamental precondition: The company’s IT structure must suit the more flexible model. Cloud computing, using mobile devices, additional software, new VPN tunnels and other innovations are the basis. Legal questions also have to be unambiguously answered if employees work outside the office. Nor is it that rare for individual colleagues to feel unfairly treated when some colleagues are allowed to work from home more frequently than others – that has to be handled carefully.

Minimum distancing in the office?

Many companies are beginning to reconsider the structure of their office rooms: fewer workplaces, and instead more possibilities for meetings and quiet rooms for exchanges among colleagues. This calls for space; on the one hand so that minimum distancing can be maintained (after all, we are still in that pandemic), on the other hand to cope with differing needs. This in turn calls for plenty of communication and also appropriate technical and organizational mobility – but these are fortunately all factors which we have acquired during the corona crisis and to which we attach long-term value, don’t we?

So, let’s get to grips and leverage the positive insights from the lockdown to develop an Office 2.0 for our companies.

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