Many employees would like to have more home offices even after Corona. A survey of the DAX companies shows: Hybrid working is the future – which is why many companies are already renting office space

Flexible coffee breaks, sitting in front of the screen in sweatpants or using the lunch break for sports: Many employees enjoy working from home. Not all but most. Only twelve percent of home office employees want to return to the office. This was the result of a survey by the economic consultancy Deloitte. With the end of the corona restrictions, however, their privileges end – at least on paper. The Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance expired on May 25, and since then, at least in theory, everything has been the same as before.

A survey carried out by Capital among all 40 Dax companies shows that there is still something left of Corona. 31 responded and delivered a fairly clear result: the home office will remain, at least on some days. “The hybrid working model is the future,” answered around a dozen of the companies verbatim.

The new working models generally provide for two to three office days per week. But there are also exceptions: SAP gives its employees a completely free hand and wants to keep it that way in the future. The situation is similar at Mercedes Benz, Daimler Trucks or Siemens – depending on the function, of course. An assembly line worker at Mercedes finds it difficult to work from home. In principle, however, all companies also emphasize the value of the office. But the function has changed. “The office has lost its monopoly on work, but it is increasingly becoming a ‘meeting place’ and is thus gaining a new meaning,” explains Telekom, for example.

This also has an impact on the real estate strategy. Many companies see savings potential through more home office and are therefore planning to reduce space. Only very few communicate this as clearly as, for example, Deutsche Bank or Allianz. Rather, the Dax companies use the current time to observe the return behavior of their employees.

The home office regulations of the Dax companies

Even before Corona, the sporting goods manufacturer had enabled up to 20 percent mobile working. This flexibility has been significantly increased during the pandemic. Most employees are now back on the campus in Herzogenaurach – also because the company offers many additional options and events – for example free sports courses and a swimming pool.

According to the company agreement, up to 49 percent of the working hours are currently possible in the home office at the Munich insurer. During the corona pandemic, 90 percent of employees sometimes worked completely from home. “We have had very positive experiences with this,” says spokeswoman Julia Roebke. Allianz therefore now wants to further develop the “New Work” concept with employee representatives. Since May, this has included weekly team days, on which individual units can return to the company premises together. Test phases for new hybrid forms will follow in the second half of the year. What these look like is currently being negotiated. It is already clear that the office structures are also changing. “The interaction of mobile working, desk sharing and the new concept means that we can optimize office space at our locations.”

Although the chemical and pharmaceutical company is no longer obliged to work from home, many employees continue to work remotely. The reasons are different, said spokesman Markus Siebenmorgen. Recently, the increased fuel prices have been mentioned more and more frequently. A fixed attendance rate is not planned in Leverkusen – also because of the positive experiences during Corona. Bayer expects employees to come into the office on average two to three days a week. “The extent to which Bayer will reduce office space or sell office buildings in Germany has not yet been decided,” explains Siebenmorgen. Nevertheless, the company welcomes employees meeting regularly in the company again. Bayer promotes this as part of activations – for example through joint team workshops.

Mobile work has been the norm at the Munich-based automotive group since 2013. In recent months, BMW has further developed the type and scope of the “ConnectedWorks” group initiative. Accordingly, employees work at the location that brings the best result for BMW. And that often arises from the mix between face-to-face and mobile work, says spokeswoman Jana Fenn. However, the combination varies depending on the area of ​​responsibility. “The creative, innovative processes in particular only work in a highly collaborative manner and only in a place where people meet and network,” says Fenn. Wherever cars are screwed together, working from home is unthinkable anyway. However, this is possible without any problems in administrative and indirect areas. Office space could be reduced in perspective thanks to new (hybrid) forms of work.

The chemical company is now gradually calling on its employees at its headquarters in Essen to come to the office again – albeit under the necessary safety precautions. Employees and supervisors can agree on flexible models with the Dax newcomer. Some of this should be preserved in the future. “We are currently developing a global concept for new flexible working models,” explains spokesman Robert Reitze.

The automotive supplier from Hanover introduced flexible working models back in 2016. Important components of this are based on mutual agreement: mobile working is based on trust, and employees can work from home for up to 40 days a year. That is not documented. Continental now wants to make this possible at locations outside of Germany.

The Leverkusen-based materials manufacturer is no longer required to work from home. On June 1, the new general works agreement “Flexible forms of work – telework and mobile work” comes into force. If there are no operational reasons to the contrary, employees can work mobile for up to 80 percent of the month. Corona has shown that mobile working is desired and often works with the same good quality, a spokesman explained. Nevertheless, Covestro expects more and more employees to come into the office in the coming weeks. Actions to activate are planned, but not yet ready for a decision. Office space is remodeled.

During the pandemic, two-thirds of employees at Daimler worked remotely. “Where the activity allows it, mobile working is still important for infection protection,” says spokesman Heiko Pappenberger. In the global company, video conferencing and networked work have been standard for many years. At Daimler Truck, the company agreements are similar to those at Mercedes Benz: since 2016, every employee has had the option of working from home – if there are no operational obstacles to doing so.

The new hybrid working model “Future of Work” has been in effect at Deutsche Bank since June 1st. According to this, employees (depending on their function) can work up to 60 percent in the home office. In the future, the majority of employees will probably work remotely two to three days a week – 80 percent wanted this hybrid form in an internal survey. May was a transitional month to try out the office again. Before that, the home office obligation applied with exceptions. “We need less space,” says Thorsten Koch, Head of Global Real Estate and Future of Work, describing the consequences for the real estate strategy. The aim is to “concentrate on a few buildings, but in return equip them with a higher standard and, above all, focus on collaborative work”. In the future, a balanced ratio of the majority of standard workplaces to collaboration areas such as meeting rooms, think tanks or project work areas will be sought.

As a global company, Deutsche Börse has very different rules in different countries. In Germany, employees can currently work remotely two days a week if operationally possible. The tendency is for employees to come back to the office more often, which is encouraged with team events. “Even before the pandemic, our basic conviction was that creativity and innovation arise from people meeting – and not just virtually,” says spokeswoman Stefanie Luther. Therefore, a revised room concept is also increasingly based on a collaborative atmosphere. Office space would not be reduced for this.

Home office has never been an option for large parts of the workforce. They provide the so-called “physical transport of consignments containing goods” – that is, they carry letters and packages to the front door. For administrative employees, on the other hand, hybrid work will remain important in the future – after the corona pandemic. But, as spokeswoman Hannah Braselmann explains: “Personal contact cannot be entirely replaced by digital formats.”

The Essen-based energy company has lifted most of the measures, but wants to respond to the needs of employees. It is emphasized that “mobile working remains an important building block in order to take individual living conditions into account”.

Since May 2nd, every second workplace at the headquarters in Bad Homburg can be used again. In fact, more and more employees take advantage of the offer every day, says spokesman Martin Kunze. But the hybrid form of work will also be retained in the future. “The good experiences from the Corona period speak for this.” The new working models also reduce the space requirements of the healthcare group. It is being considered “whether and to what extent” additional rented office space will be needed in the future.

The reinsurer has extended the existing protective measures until June 30. This means that a maximum capacity of 50 percent, a minimum distance and a mask recommendation continue to apply in the offices. The average attendance rate is around 25-30 percent. Six out of ten employees are present at least once a week. Some prefer to work in the office, for others the risk of infection is too high, explains spokeswoman Silvia Schaefermeier. Mobile working will remain in the future – but should not exceed a share of around 50 percent. In order to make the office more attractive again, “back-to-the-office events” will take place in the summer. These are combined with weekly promotions – such as free ice cream and smoothies in the company garden or barbecue offers.

Working from home two to three days a week: this is made possible by a new company agreement at the building materials group. The company is currently aiming for a 50/50 attendance rate in the office. It is also getting higher every day, says spokesman Daniel Plaga. “We are experiencing a significant increase in the number of employees in the offices, and on an absolutely voluntary basis.” The company has been running a “Diversity Week” with activities at the Heidelberg headquarters since the end of May. Workshops and team events are planned for the summer in order to get closer together again. The summer of 2021 showed that this was a good idea. The relaxation of the corona virus was followed by a “reconnect” month. Many of the actions are still ongoing.

The Berlin cook box provider was one of the Corona winners and has grown strongly since then. Last September, the company moved into its new headquarters in Berlin-Kreuzberg and has stated that it intends to expand further. Therefore, no reductions are planned. According to the company, it has been using hybrid work right from the start. In the meantime, however, more team activities are being carried out again – also to increase office presence.

On May 25, the semiconductor manufacturer from Munich let its home office regulations from the pandemic times expire. What remains of this is a cross-location “remote work regulation”, according to which German employees can spend up to 40 percent of their working hours in the home office. Since Infineon wants to grow dynamically, there will be no reductions in area, explains spokesman Gregor Rodehüser.

At Mercedes-Benz, mobile working has been anchored in a company agreement since 2009, and the right to work from home was expanded in 2016. If this is compatible with the task, it applies in principle up to 100 percent. Here, too, it says: “Hybrid working is the working model of the future.” In a survey during the corona crisis, more than half of the employees stated that they wanted to continue working several days a week on the go. There will probably not be any reductions in space, since the majority of the offices are on the factory premises or are owned by the company. But: The usage concepts are changing, for example through more work islands.

The home office recommendation was lifted at the chemical and pharmaceutical company on May 9th. Since then, the employees and their managers have decided on attendance. “Working digitally is a matter of course for us. But it is also important to us that the offices should continue to be attractive, because they stand for personal contact,” explains spokeswoman Chantal Gilsdorf. As part of the new hybrid forms of work, offices are also being redesigned. “That doesn’t necessarily mean giving up space.” Less space for individual workplaces is conceivable, “while in return more space is created for the exchange between employees.”

At the reinsurer MunichRE, employees are allowed to work from home, provided there are no important operational reasons not to do so – this includes customer appointments. In Munich, around 30 percent of the employees currently work in the office, with an upward trend, as they say. The company is also planning in the long term with a hybrid model without minimum quotas. The company does not want to comment on whether office space will be sold because of this.

The car manufacturer’s listed financial holding company has just 37 employees. “Home office is easily possible in consultation,” says spokesman Albert Bamler.

The sporting goods manufacturer from Herzogenaurach did not close its offices during the Corona period either. The employees always had the choice between working from home or being present, it says there. Therefore, there is now no official call to return to the office. Currently, around 80 percent of employees come to their workplace in the office every day anyway.

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology group keeps it short: “We are enabling our employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic,” writes spokesman Thomas Theuringer.

At the beginning of May, the Essen-based energy supplier adopted the rule to work primarily on the move. Many employees have since returned to the offices – “also because they give us feedback that personal contact is important to them,” says spokesman Jan Peter Cirkel. Nevertheless, the hybrid work will remain. “We are currently examining how the requirements of the new working world, for example in the form of additional creative and meeting areas, can be integrated into our office landscapes.”

Even before the pandemic, SAP employees were working from home an average of 2.5 days a week. Today, the flexibility goes as far as hardly any other Dax company. “We offer a 100 percent flexible, trust-based working model in which employees can decide when, where and how they want to work,” says spokeswoman Sarah Schallmeyer. This included up to 30 working days per year from abroad. There are no strict home office quotas, although personal exchange is still very important. According to internal surveys, only a very small proportion could imagine working completely remotely. “We can already see that more and more colleagues are coming to the office again and looking for personal exchange. In this respect, the office remains an important meeting place for us.”

Since 2010, Siemens employees have been able to work from home on a regular basis, which around 20 percent of the workforce did until the Corona outbreak. The rules were then adapted to a “New Normal Working Model” in summer 2020, which establishes mobile working as a core element of the new normal. During the pandemic, around 170,000 of the 309,000 employees worked entirely or partially from home. In Germany it was 61,000 of the 87,000 employees. Many of them returned to the offices for the first time these days and tested the new flexibility, says spokeswoman Caroline Midderhoff. “They like to do that too. We don’t notice any reluctance.” That’s why Siemens sees no need to set incentives for attendance. Work is in progress on the “New Work” office world of tomorrow, with space reductions probably also playing a role. “But they are not the driver in the new model.” It is assumed that employees are expected to spend around two to three days a week in the office. “This time is used more for collaboration and networking, the time at home for core work.”

The fragrance and cosmetics manufacturer from Holzminden makes two home office days a week possible – in some functions even more. “We are thus addressing the radically changed working and living environments,” says spokeswoman Christina Witter. In the meantime, however, the majority of employees are working in the office again. There will also be no space reduction, as Symrise is a dynamically growing company. The idea behind it: Even if more employees work permanently in the home office, more employees will also require more office space overall.

The medical technology manufacturer from Erlangen still has a maximum office quota of 50 percent. “This is also not to be interpreted as a request for an unconditional return, but only regulates the maximum permissible value,” says spokeswoman Georgina Prodhan. The situation is continuously checked, but currently no actions are planned to lure employees back into the office. The company has not commented on a possible reduction in space.

Telekom emphasizes the value of new forms of work. “One thing is clear: the future of our work is hybrid. The office has lost its monopoly on work, but it is increasingly becoming a meeting place and is thus gaining a new meaning,” says spokesman Christian Schwolow. Therefore, areas will be converted, but areas will also be rented. The distance rules were recently relaxed, and all workplaces have now been released again. Telekom is also doing a lot to make the office attractive for employees again – be it through free breakfasts, team events or the nationwide “AWAK3” team festival.

Theoretically, 50 percent of Vonovia employees have been able to return to the office since March. However, several corona outbreaks ensured that there were actually fewer. Since May, more and more employees have returned to the office, explains spokesman Tristan Hinseler. “Nevertheless, we are monitoring the pandemic very closely and are positioned in such a way that we can make adjustments at any time.” For the time being, the upper limit of 50 percent applies. “Positive experiences with mobile working” add to the caution. It will become an integral part of the working world. Many employees would still like to come to the office to enjoy the advantages there. This is taken into account in the new “New Work” concept – as well as “efficient use of space”.

In April 2022, the online retailer launched a hybrid working model based on the experiences of the Corona period. On-site presence is voluntary until the end of the year and the individual teams decide when and how to introduce regular presence within the team. From the beginning of 2023, the presence will then be expanded. At least 40 percent of the entire workforce should then work in the office every day.

This article first appeared on Capital