Home “Labour Law ” Home Office: regulation, advantages
The home office is a dream for many employees. Finally working from home, no longer having to commute, making one’s own work more flexible… – that sounds like more freedom, self-determination, and less stress. And the best thing about the home office:
There is no boss breathing down your neck; no annoying colleagues who drive you crazy with their whims.
Apart from such advantages, the home office also has a few veritable disadvantages. Home office jobs demand a lot of self-discipline, focus, and clear boundaries from the employee.
Moreover, questions like:
- Do I have a right to a home office?
- Am I insured in case of an accident?
- Will the home office damage my career?
Here we give you an overview of home office regulations, numerous practical tips, and answer the most important questions about the home office…
- Home office definition: Overview of the forms of work
- The advantages and disadvantages of the home office
- Home office regulation: The most important questions and answers
- Homeoffice Job: Wrong ideas and expectations
- Home office equipment: 50 tips for working from home
- Apply for a home office: How to convince your boss
- Home office: regulation, advantages, 50 tips
Home office definition: Overview of the work forms
What is a home office? In fact, the term is not so clearly defined (there are even different spellings: home office, home-office, more rarely: homeoffice).
Most employees understand it to mean a workplace at home.
That is, either a home office or an office in your own home.
Or at least a desk in a designated corner where they can work from home.
According to the official definition, the home office counts as teleworking. This is a flexible form of work where employees can do all or part of their work from home.
In contrast, home-based workers are also working from home, but are often self-employed and work on a fee basis.
Three forms of telework
However, three forms are also distinguished within telework (see graph):
In telecommuting, the employee works exclusively from home. The home office also corresponds to a full-time workplace.
In alternating teleworking, the employee works on a permanent basis sometimes in the home office, sometimes in the company, that is, in the office of the employer. This is the most common form of telework.
However, official home office regulations and agreements are required to organize the work of several employees working in this way. At the same time, this form can considerably reduce operating costs, because not all employees are in the office at the same time and therefore fewer workstations have to be made available there.
In mobile telework, on the other hand, the employee works from on the road – in a café, in the car, on the train, on the plane (see: Mobile Workspace).
This form is usually found in sales or consulting. It involves a certain amount of technical effort because employees need to be able to access the company’s IT infrastructure from their mobile devices – and at the same time ensure that the data remains secure.
The advantages and disadvantages of the home office
However, the home office is not a universal solution. It has various advantages and disadvantages, which employers and employees should be aware of in advance.
For example, it is positive that employees can save themselves the trip to the office. This reduces stress, lowers costs, is good for the environment, and creates additional free time.
Conversely, in the home office, there are numerous distraction traps threatened by children or one’s own partner or the feeling of loneliness due to a lack of social contacts.
In addition, the boundaries between professional and private life are often blurred at home (see: Work-Life-Blending)
Every medal has two sides. So here are the most important advantages and disadvantages at a glance. These have to be weighed up in each case:
Advantages and disadvantages
- Time saving (no travel to work)
- Self-determined working
- More flexible division of labour
- Increased productivity (Study, PDF)
- Compatibility of family and career
- Higher job satisfaction
- Cost reduction
- Distraction risks
- More self-discipline
- More organizational effort
- Social isolation
- Permanent accessibility
- Data security requirements
In principle, however, various studies have shown that employees who voluntarily (!) switch to the home office…
- …voluntarily work longer hours.
- …are more focused and productive.
- …are less likely to be ill (thanks to a lower risk of infection).
- …are generally more satisfied with their work.
Especially the last point is repeatedly mentioned in studies as the greatest advantage of a home office regulation.
Employees who are given this option are happier at work, have greater motivation and are more loyal to their employer in the long term.
However, one of the biggest disadvantages is the increasing invisibility of the home office.
Other studies have shown that bosses perceived the increased performance of their employees in the home office more seldom. As a result, they received a salary increase or promotion less frequently.
To counteract these disadvantages, we have compiled some tips in this free PDF to help you qualify for salary increases in the home office and thus promote your career from home.
Home office regulation: The most important questions and answers
It is true that many employees would like the opportunity to work from their home office. However, there is often confusion about the rights and duties involved. In order to provide more clarity and an overview, we answer the most frequent and important questions about the home office here:
Is there a right to work from the home office?
Currently, the Federal Ministry of Labour has concrete plans to give employees a right to a home office, but this has not yet been planned. So employees cannot simply demand to be allowed to work from home.
Until possible changes in the law are made, whether or not a home office regulation is introduced is subject to the company’s business conduct.
On the other hand, a company cannot simply tell its employees to work from home. This is only possible if the employment contract already contains a corresponding provision stating that the employee works from his home office.
If such a clause is missing, an employee cannot be transferred unilaterally to the home office by the boss.
Who bears the costs for the home office?
The costs for a home office often depend on the agreement between the employee and the company. Basically, the employer provides the necessary resources that employees need, for example, a company laptop can be provided to work in the home office.
Under certain circumstances, however, it may even be possible for the employer to pay part of the rent.
If, for example, the employee works almost exclusively from home and the company does not provide employees with a separate workplace, the employer can reimburse a flat rate for the rent and any energy and heating costs incurred.
What must a home office look like?
When it comes to the furnishing and design of your home office, you are of course free to design it yourself. However, there are some aspects of the equipment that employees should consider in order to prevent possible problems.
After all, even in a home office the conditions of occupational health and safety must be observed. This means: Work must not harm your health – this applies not only to hazardous activities, but also to a computer workstation.
The monitor should not be too small and the lighting should also be right.
It is also important that data protection is also guaranteed in the home office. Neither company secrets nor personal data must be allowed to leak out. The room in which your home office is located should therefore be lockable.
Is the boss allowed to view the home office?
The boss is not only allowed to, he must even have a look at your home office. Only then can he judge whether the above-mentioned requirements are met and whether the room is really suitable for work.
However, your boss must not simply stand in front of your door and demand that you let him into your home. Therefore, an access authorization should be agreed in the written home office regulation.
Here it can also be recorded when and how often it is checked whether the regulations of the industrial safety are observed.
In individual cases, you should talk to your boss in a good time and make an appointment.
What working hours are prescribed in the home office?
Whether you work in the office or in the home office: The Working Hours Act applies equally to you and your job. In principle, therefore, a working time of eight hours per day is stipulated, unless the order situation makes overtime necessary, in which case the daily working time may be increased to ten hours at short notice.
The prerequisite, however, is that within six months a corresponding compensation for the additional work is granted. But of course, every country has its own regulations.
Employees should also remember that it is part of their job to document their working hours in their home office and to make these records available to the boss. This can take the form of a timesheet, for example.
Am I entitled to breaks in the home office?
In addition to the regulations on working hours, employees in the home office are naturally also entitled to breaks. They do not have to slave away the whole day just because they work from home.
If you work six hours or more, you are entitled to a 30-minute break; if you work more than nine hours, you are entitled to a 45-minute break.
If you work in your home office for several days in a row, you should also ensure that you have sufficient rest periods between the two working days.
Some employees tend to work until late at night at home and then start again much earlier than normal the next morning.
A basic break of 11 hours is required before you start work again the next day.
What is the liability in case of an accident in the home office?
If you have an accident at work, you are covered by the statutory accident insurance, which also applies if you have an accident on the way to work, for example.
In principle, this also applies to the home office, but there are special features and restrictions. For example, accident insurance protection only applies to the home office if the accident occurs while you are working on a job that is really part of your job.
So if you fall over during a professional telephone call and tear your ligaments, you are covered by accident insurance.
If, on the other hand, you are making yourself a cup of tea and scalding your hand with hot water or falling on the way to the toilet, it is not an accident at work and the accident insurance does not cover you.
Do I always have to be reachable in my home office?
Employees in the home office often have the feeling that they have to be available around the clock. This is to make up for the fact that you are not sitting in the office with your colleagues – so that no problems with communication arise in the first place, they are always available, whether early in the morning or late at night.
However, this is absolutely not necessary and should not be demanded from the boss.
During normal working hours, you should also be reachable in your home office, but anything beyond that is your free time and you must – unless other arrangements have been made – no longer be reachable.
Besides, it is no problem if you cannot answer the phone in your home office or reply to a mail within 30 seconds.
Is the employment contract changed for the home office regulation?
A written regulation about the home office is recommendable, although verbal agreements can also be made, but you lack a possibility to prove it. And so a verbal promise can usually be revoked.
Typically, an addendum to the employment contract is written, which contains the arrangements, agreements and regulations concerning the home office.
Important points are, for example, the time frame, i.e. how much working time is spent in the home office, which working hours apply in the home office and, ideally, also at which core hours an employee should definitely be available.
If work equipment is made available, it may also be regulated that it is not intended for private use.
Homeoffice Job: Wrong ideas and expectations
Many employees imagine the home office as professional heaven on earth. Finally working the way you want to work. According to your own biorhythm, flexible with more freedom and less stress.
That sounds romantic but is also a bit naive. It’s true that you have less contact at home with annoying colleagues or pushy superiors. But you need to find a new daily structure and work routine at home.
The only one who draws a line between professional and private life now is yourself.
That means: You decide when you take a break (and you should do so regularly) or when you switch to the evening and switch off – but do it properly. Otherwise, you’ll soon be at risk of something like cabin fever.
Moreover, home office does not mean that you can work completely flexibly. Although you have more freedom than in the office, the boss still determines the working hours during which you have to be available. Only the place of work changes.
This often requires clear arrangements with the family at home. For example:
When the door is closed, I am officially in the office and I do not want to be disturbed.
I work from 6:00 to 7:00. I can’t take care of the children during that time.
Even if the employer supports home office work, the responsibility for this remains with you. In order not to get lost in the home office, there is no way around effective self-management.
In the following, you will find some tips and proven strategies…
Home office equipment: 50 tips for working from home
Work in the home office is full of distractions and temptations: Invitations from friends, household chores, family concerns…
The home office can only become a permanent solution if you learn to deal with them. For some it’s easy, for others it’s a serious problem.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of 50 tips to help you master the home office and reap the full benefits.
Set up a home office
If the spatial division in your home allows it, you should set up and use your own office as a home office. This makes it easier to separate your private life from your work and allows you to concentrate more.
If you do not have your own room, it is recommended that you at least have a fixed workplace in another room. Here are some tips on how to set up a home office in limited space.
Go to work mentally
For many people, the working day begins with the drive to the office. In the home office, you only have to go one door further, which can have a negative effect on your attitude.
Even when you are in your home office, you should still be mentally prepared for work – shave and do your hair, choose a suitable outfit and prepare for a normal working day.
One of the biggest challenges in the home office are the countless distractions. Doing something quickly, doing the shopping in between, quickly vacuuming and half the day is over.
Working time is also working time in the home office. Eliminate all distractions and bring up the necessary self-discipline.
Use all communication possibilities
In the home office the exchange with colleagues does not have to come to a standstill. Digitalisation and modern technology make it easy for you to maintain communication.
Connect to meetings via video or telephone conference, arrange times for telephone calls or work together on an online document.
Call it a day
You should also introduce fixed times in your home office when you go home. Just because the work takes place at your home, you don’t have to spend the whole day doing it. If you get off work at 6 p.m. at the office, you should keep this in your home office as well.
Apply for a home office: How to convince your boss
Many want to, few can – this is how the relationship between employees and the home office can be summarized. What is often missing is the approval of the boss.
For this to work, good arguments are needed above all. It may be practical for you to be able to work from home. If you want to convince the employer of this, you have to consider how the company benefits from it.
You also need to dispel doubts and make it clear to the boss that performance and results will not suffer if you work from home.