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New Normal? Many SMEs are unsure about the working world of the future

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A recent study by the Haufe Group shows that many medium-sized companies do not know how to react to the demands of the changed working world.

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Even two years after the Corona pandemic, a large number of medium-sized companies in Germany still have no concept for home office or remote work. This is the result of the current study entitled "Arbeitswelt der Zukunft im Mittelstand" (Working World of the Future in SMEs), which the market research company Kantar conducted on behalf of the Haufe Group in May 2022. Most of the companies surveyed have indeed thought about future regulations on hybrid work, and more than half have already developed concrete concepts. More than a quarter of the respondents also state that concrete concepts are being implemented in their company. However, this does not at all mean that these companies also rely on the new forms of work. Some are returning to compulsory presence, others are establishing rather arbitrary rules. In four out of ten companies, no regulations have been made or communicated at all, or at best initial considerations exist.

"The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for hybrid working models. Digital collaboration and new forms of work have generally come into focus as a result," says Birte Hackenjos, CEO of the Haufe Group, commenting on the results of the study. "At the Haufe Group, we have involved the employees in the transformation process - the result: At our company, the teams decide independently how they organise their collaboration. They can best assess their needs."

The working world of the future will be shaped by hybrid solutions


For the study, both executives and employees without management positions from companies in the service, trade and production sectors were surveyed. According to the survey, most managers already see the advantages of home office and hybrid work. Non-managerial employees, however, want to be more involved in the development. This includes not only equipping them with laptops and Microsoft Teams, but also offering them training and further education with regard to teamwork and self-organisation, in order to take cultural change into account.

Companies that have not focused on or even dealt with the new working models, the changes in the working world and the wishes of their employees have a lot of catching up to do. Even before the Corona pandemic, the world of work was changing due to digitalisation. The pandemic has accelerated this process. Employers who want to be attractive should take this change into account. Employees want to be involved in shaping things, have more personal responsibility, more flexibility and more participation - this is also a result of the Haufe Group study. However, this also means that companies must have confidence in their employees. Another result of the study is that there is no "one size fits all" - there is no one concept that every company can apply as the perfect working model. Every company should develop a hybrid model that fits its processes and tasks and implement it throughout the company.

Flexible, successful and resilient

Being able to react to (unexpected) changes is one of the key challenges facing medium-sized companies today. Another challenge is attracting skilled workers and managers. Hybrid working models that fit the company help here. They strengthen loyalty to the company, increase the appeal of the company and personnel brand and increase job satisfaction. The study shows that professional and managerial staff want more flexible working hours and ways of working. They want more personal responsibility and expect companies to be more open to digital technologies.

SMEs in Germany are facing major tasks. They have to find answers to disruption, changed procedures, supply chains, processes, cultures, in short: a changed world. With their millions of employees, these companies, which are often family-owned, make a significant contribution to economic value creation. Medium-sized companies develop successfully when they change and yet remain true to themselves at the same time. This also means that they should actively address innovation processes, including in work design. The upheaval in the world of work is striking. Medium-sized companies can drive their transformation themselves and remain economic models of success in the future.


About the study
In the study on the "Working World of the Future in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses", medium-sized companies in Germany (50 - 10,000 employees) from the service, trade and production sectors were surveyed nationwide from 3 to 16 May 2022. The employees surveyed had to have an occupation in which home office was (partially) possible or theoretically possible. The study consists of a qualitative preliminary study with individual explorations and a quantitative online survey. A total of 1,042 online interviews were conducted, 263 of them with managers. The focus was on questions about work in the home office, since home office serves as an umbrella term for all forms of mobile work and all companies surveyed were affected by the home office obligation.

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New Normal? Many SMEs are unsure about the working world of the future

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27
.
06
.
2022

Even two years after the Corona pandemic, a large number of medium-sized companies in Germany still have no concept for home office or remote work. This is the result of the current study entitled "Arbeitswelt der Zukunft im Mittelstand" (Working World of the Future in SMEs), which the market research company Kantar conducted on behalf of the Haufe Group in May 2022. Most of the companies surveyed have indeed thought about future regulations on hybrid work, and more than half have already developed concrete concepts. More than a quarter of the respondents also state that concrete concepts are being implemented in their company. However, this does not at all mean that these companies also rely on the new forms of work. Some are returning to compulsory presence, others are establishing rather arbitrary rules. In four out of ten companies, no regulations have been made or communicated at all, or at best initial considerations exist.

"The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for hybrid working models. Digital collaboration and new forms of work have generally come into focus as a result," says Birte Hackenjos, CEO of the Haufe Group, commenting on the results of the study. "At the Haufe Group, we have involved the employees in the transformation process - the result: At our company, the teams decide independently how they organise their collaboration. They can best assess their needs."

The working world of the future will be shaped by hybrid solutions


For the study, both executives and employees without management positions from companies in the service, trade and production sectors were surveyed. According to the survey, most managers already see the advantages of home office and hybrid work. Non-managerial employees, however, want to be more involved in the development. This includes not only equipping them with laptops and Microsoft Teams, but also offering them training and further education with regard to teamwork and self-organisation, in order to take cultural change into account.

Companies that have not focused on or even dealt with the new working models, the changes in the working world and the wishes of their employees have a lot of catching up to do. Even before the Corona pandemic, the world of work was changing due to digitalisation. The pandemic has accelerated this process. Employers who want to be attractive should take this change into account. Employees want to be involved in shaping things, have more personal responsibility, more flexibility and more participation - this is also a result of the Haufe Group study. However, this also means that companies must have confidence in their employees. Another result of the study is that there is no "one size fits all" - there is no one concept that every company can apply as the perfect working model. Every company should develop a hybrid model that fits its processes and tasks and implement it throughout the company.

Flexible, successful and resilient

Being able to react to (unexpected) changes is one of the key challenges facing medium-sized companies today. Another challenge is attracting skilled workers and managers. Hybrid working models that fit the company help here. They strengthen loyalty to the company, increase the appeal of the company and personnel brand and increase job satisfaction. The study shows that professional and managerial staff want more flexible working hours and ways of working. They want more personal responsibility and expect companies to be more open to digital technologies.

SMEs in Germany are facing major tasks. They have to find answers to disruption, changed procedures, supply chains, processes, cultures, in short: a changed world. With their millions of employees, these companies, which are often family-owned, make a significant contribution to economic value creation. Medium-sized companies develop successfully when they change and yet remain true to themselves at the same time. This also means that they should actively address innovation processes, including in work design. The upheaval in the world of work is striking. Medium-sized companies can drive their transformation themselves and remain economic models of success in the future.


About the study
In the study on the "Working World of the Future in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses", medium-sized companies in Germany (50 - 10,000 employees) from the service, trade and production sectors were surveyed nationwide from 3 to 16 May 2022. The employees surveyed had to have an occupation in which home office was (partially) possible or theoretically possible. The study consists of a qualitative preliminary study with individual explorations and a quantitative online survey. A total of 1,042 online interviews were conducted, 263 of them with managers. The focus was on questions about work in the home office, since home office serves as an umbrella term for all forms of mobile work and all companies surveyed were affected by the home office obligation.

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