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APRIL 14, 2022

Is the concept of an office a dying dinosaur or is it irreplaceable?

What advantages remote work offers and why it has long been (not)
a future model (anymore).

Everyone knows it: the office, the place where you meet your colleagues, work and spend at least 1/4 of your (life)time there. It's comfortable, you have everything: table, chair, executive chair, computer and sweets and treats for in between. You don't have to tell much more about it. And yes, there are also New Work and Open Space Offices with future-oriented furnishings and cool room concepts. In Düsseldorf, for example, there are some top examples of a contemporary office atmosphere, such as at sipgate, invision and Kunst & Kollegen. Some corporate bosses and teams even come from far away to see that you can not only "stow" your employees in a glass concrete complex, but that there is another way. And on the other hand, there are companies that work remotely with a considerable number of their employees, whether they are freelancers or permanent employees. As an analogue balance, they gather the entire team at headquarters once or twice a year to exchange ideas and get to know each other - isn't that money well invested? ;-) One of the first companies to establish the On Remote concept (more than 10 years ago) was the agency 37Signal, one of many pioneers (including IBM, Microsoft, etc...) in the field of remote work. (The founders also wrote the book "Remote" on the subject. It's worth reading!)

The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson

Ok, but now back to the topic. As (corporate) employees, we are used to going into the office to work there and as bosses to manage the employees – or to do the boss's work.) Well, to each his own. But is there really any added value in staying in the office? Today we have more than enough digital tools like Slack, Teams, Skype, Docs, Zooms and Co. that can beam us to anywhere in the world to talk face-to-face. The Internet and cloud servers enable decentralized data storage and collaboration for teams. In theory, almost anyone could work in a company from anywhere, whether designer, programmer, lawyer or accountant. Because everything is accessible from anywhere. There is (still) a problem with the trust of the management level and team leaders who are used to “Manage chairs” instead of creating real added value. And of course, when you've grown up with a control structure, it's hard to let go of responsibility and take the leap of faith. After all, there are no tools in the company that generate trust at the push of a button. However, if you leave the legacy behind, you can build a contemporary corporate culture that makes it possible to establish remote work as an integral part, because if you take a closer look at the concept, from our point of view it only offers advantages if a few important rules are observed:

The advantages

1. Save CO2 when commuting: The CO2 and money savings are immense if, for example, you commute 2x1h (80 km) every day. In the home office you save 2 hours of time and CO2. But feel free to calculatefor yourself what it means to commute:

2. Save lifetime: 2 hours of life every day is about 440 hours a year, or about 18 days. What doyou think? Any ideas how you could use this time differently?

3. Save office rent: Office space costs companies a lot of money. If you have to rent lessspace, you can either pass on part of the money to your employees (e.g. for home officeequipment, etc...) or invest it. IBM, for example, has reduced office space by 58 millionsquare feet by restructuring its teams, a savings of approximately $2 billion (annually?).386,000 IBM employees work away from the office.

4. Become a globetrotter: If you are not dependent on an office space and remote work is possible,you can choose your place of residence freely: you do not necessarily have to live in the samecity where the company is based, you can simply move. Or even emigrate. Because you can dothe same work on the beach with your notebook and internet connection just as well as in theoffice, right? Of course, the personal responsibility and attitude towards the company must beright and the time difference between two locations and the team must not be too great.

5. Free time management:
You don't necessarily have to "sit out" your 8 hours a day in the office orin the same place. After all, there is a private life out there, children, family etc. that should betaken care of. In order to find a good balance between private and business matters, the teamcan organize its time freely if it achieves the scope of work. Of course it has to be in line with theteam and not block processes. At this point, good communication is crucial. The basic rule is:get the shit done no matter where and at what time. But don't exceed the 40 hour week! Butcompanies also enjoy the advantage that they do not necessarily have to look for theircolleagues in the same city or in the immediate vicinity and can draw on the workload of smartminds located around the world.

The rules

1. Sport & Contact: When you work from home, you can't ignore the aspect of physical movement. Because even the daily "regular" way to work is at least some exercise and keeps the body minimally fit. So if you sit a lot in the home office and can't get out, you should plan sport into your daily routine. And, of course, maintaining personal contact with friends and family.

2. Individual responsibility: We don't want to control anyone and we also don't want to chase after the tasks. Nowadays we organize ourselves via Slack channels, GitLab issues and phone calls and short meetings. Nevertheless, good self-organization and personal responsibility is a must-have, especially if the team is not sitting in a real room and there is no exchange. This also includes arranging vacation and off-time with the team.

3. Close team exchange: Ideally, everyone always knows where their colleagues are. On the one hand, not to worry, and on the other hand, to know if someone is taking a longer break or just getting a coffee

Get the shit done—no matter where and at what time. But exceed the 40h week not!

I think that's it… nothing else to really consider. Each individual will certainly find numerous other advantages for themselves that have not been listed here.

Does remote work now have the potential to move into all companies in Germany, doesn't it? We are firmly convinced that it will be years before large corporations are ready. Many are taking good steps in this direction and the corona pandemic has also contributed a lot to the fact that there were finally no more excuses for having to drive to the office - after all, there was another way!

At emit digital, we were planning to rent an office before Corona. However, we revised this idea, not because of Corona, but because of the fact that we have worked exclusively remotely in a team of 10 and other remote freelancers for the last 5 years. Only a small team of 2 had a permanent office and desks, but were not required to be present. Of course there were initial difficulties at the beginning, but everyone got into the groove very well and today it works without any problems, the work is going well and everyone is happy.

For us it's 100% a future model that we will follow, but know that in the near future we will also need a small base - just to have walls with roadmaps hanging on them or a user story map. Yes, totally old school and totally offline ;-) We will never give up the luxury of working with or hiring people from all over the world and acting freely, because there is no better working model for us.