Mai 2020: What’s happening?

Gerade in diesen Tagen, in denen allen klar wird, dass die Corona-Pandemie noch eine ganze Weile nicht vorüber sein wird, rückt die mittel- und langfristige Perspektive von Remote Work zunehmend in den Mittelpunkt vieler Diskussionen und (oft erzwungener) Experimente.

Das Camp der Firmen, für die permanentes Remote-Arbeiten denkbar ist, wächst. „The perma-WFH bandwagon is growing.” Schlägt man die Definition von Working From Home (WFH) im Urban Dictionary nach, so kann sehr schön die Bedeutungsentwicklung illustriert werden. Von

„Working from home — when your slacking off and not wanting to do any work.” (2008)

über

„WFH is a concept where the employee can do their job outside of the office. This could be either work done from home, or work done remotely on the road. WFH offers the flexibility to achieve company goals, while supporting a healthy work/life balance, cutting down on commuting time and costs, as well as fostering a comfortable work environment.” (2018)

hin zu

„Work from Home – a concept popularized from COVID-19, where everyone is self-quarantined, resulting in many working from home.” (2020).

Dabei zeichnen sich für mich in stark digitalisierten Umfeldern mehrere gemeinsame Erfahrungen heraus:

  • in der (erzwungenen) WFH-Situation funktioniert sehr vieles besser als erwartet
  • kreative und kulturelle Aspekte der Remote-Zusammenarbeit sind und bleiben allerdings eine Herausforderung
  • es wird aus den funktionierenden Remote-Konstellationen kein vollständiges Zurück zur Prä-Pandemie-Situation geben

So twittert etwa der CEO von Shopify:

„As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.”

Im Umfeld der Bürotürme von Manhattan denkt auch Corporate America über die Zukunft nach:

„But now, as the pandemic eases its grip, companies are considering not just how to safely bring back employees, but whether all of them need to come back at all. They were forced by the crisis to figure out how to function productively with workers operating from home — and realized unexpectedly that it was not all bad.”

„Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the country’s most prominent corporate leaders, predicted that the pandemic would lead many companies to embrace remote working arrangements. ‚A lot of people have learned that they can work at home‘, Mr. Buffett said recently during his annual investors meeting.”

Mark Zuckerberg prognostiziert einen 50-prozentigen Anteil an Remote-Mitarbeitenden bei Facebook in den nächsten fünf bis zehn Jahren:

„That’s one of the big open questions. The thing that’s been positively surprising to people is that people are more productive working at home than people would have expected. Some people thought that everything was just going to fall apart, and it hasn’t. And a lot of people are actually saying that they’re more productive now.”

„But I think the bigger question, longer term, is what you’re saying. It’s the social connections, it’s the culture, and it’s creativity. And there are a lot of tools that just need to get built around that. That’s part of the reason why I’m not saying I want everyone to go work remotely immediately.”

SAP-Chef Klein sieht ebenfalls bleibende Veränderungen:

„Durch die Pandemie wird sich meiner Meinung nach aber noch mehr ändern. Aufs Geschäftsleben bezogen gibt es auch ein paar gute Seiten an der Krise: Ich verbringe jetzt viel weniger Zeit am Flughafen und im Flugzeug. Ich glaube, dass sich die Art, wie wir kommunizieren, sehr stark verändern wird. Wir werden eher Videokonferenzen abhalten anstatt in den nächsten Flieger zu steigen. Das spielt auch positiv hinein in das Thema Klimaschutz. Und unsere Kunden setzen jetzt verstärkt auf das Thema ‘digitale Transformation’.”

„Allerdings arbeiten wir gerade mit 95 Prozent der Mitarbeiter im Homeoffice. Und es ist faszinierend zu sehen, dass weiterhin alles läuft. Deswegen wollen wir nicht zu viel Druck aufbauen, dass die Mitarbeiter wieder ins Büro kommen müssen. Stattdessen gehen wir das je nach den lokalen Anforderungen schrittweise an – immer mit Blick auf die Gesundheit der Mitarbeiter. Für Deutschland und für Walldorf/St. Leon Rot haben wir jetzt mal Mitte Juni angepeilt und wollen dann schrittweise und sehr behutsam hochfahren.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella behält die experimentelle und kulturelle Seite der Veränderungen im Blick:

„Nadella predicts three phases to the new Covid-19 reality: response, recovery and re-imagining. ‘I don’t think we go forward with exactly the same type of workflows or how we do work or business process the same way’, he says. Within Microsoft, Nadella wants staff to collect as much data as possible on how Microsoft itself has adjusted and is working, with plans to publish what it finds from the ‘at-scale experiment‘.”

„We’re doing lots of meetings. They’re all video meetings. That’s fantastic, we’re getting a lot done. We have more stand-ups [meetings], even more so because of the crisis. But we have not checked-in, had those hallway conversations, those few minutes that you have the person sitting next to you in a meeting where you are able to connect with them“, Nadella says. „How do you recreate that mechanism? I think it requires a new type of culture.”

Google und Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai betont auch die Herausforderungen im kreativen Prozess und die Wichtigkeit, die vielen Experimente datengetrieben auszuwerten, um daraus zu lernen:

„But I do think there will be lasting shifts. I don’t think we are going to come out of this and be back where we were before this all started. So I expect us to adapt but it’s still too early to tell how much. Early on, I’m excited that some of this is working well. But it is based on a foundation of all of us knowing each other and having the regular interactions we already had. I’m curious to see what happens as we get into that three-to-six-month window and we get into things where we are doing something for the first time. How productive will we be when different teams who don’t normally work together have to come together for brainstorming, the creative process? We are going to have research, surveys, learn from data, learn what works.”

Einen – für mich persönlich – faszinierenden und versöhnlichen Gedanken wirft Pichai noch ein. Die Pandemie ist eine zu unserer Lebenszeit bisher wohl einzigartige gemeinsame globale Erfahrung:

„One thing, which has been striking is — I don’t think in our lifetimes we have seen such a global moment where everyone seems to be going through a shared experience. That’s unique. So it’s kind of one of the few positives. It feels like a moment for humanity together as a whole.

But for sure, when you look at places in Asia, which have gone through and come back, we do see some shifts in areas, like as people get used to ordering online, some of those effects seem — some of the shift stays. So we see trends like that. But I see a lot more common than not, which, to me, shows the commonality of humanity, more than how different we are. So there’s more common patterns I see rather than differences.”