In one sense, the pandemic has left Austria split down the middle: around 50% of employees have access to “good” remote working arrangements, and the other half do not. The distinction lies in the degree of freedom that employees have at work. For their nationwide study, researchers from IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems and UAS BFI Vienna looked at how employers measured up based on ten such degrees of freedom. Almost 2,000 Austrian workers took part in the survey. The findings reveal a clear split between businesses. This means that some companies have a lot of ground to make up and need to take a closer look at their working arrangements.
Quality differences in home working models
Lead author Prof. Michael Bartz from IMC Krems, who is an expert on remote working, shares two examples that illustrate the marked differences: “For example, are employees allowed to work from home for just a few hours at a time, and split their hours flexibly between their company office and home office during the day? Or do they always have to work remotely for full days? Can you work from home on Fridays or on working days between weekends and public holidays, and even do so with a clear conscience? Or is it specifically ruled out?
In view of the shortage of skilled workers, a company’s image as an employer is extremely important. This means working models need to be scrutinised – all the more so because there is a clear correlation between the quality of remote working arrangements and an employer’s overall attractiveness. Due to the combined effects of the declining birth rate, the wave of baby boomers moving into retirement, high employment rates, and spiralling salaries driven by inflation, employers need to boost their attractiveness through factors other than pay.
There is some good news: companies can close the gap in the medium term. That said, it is not possible – or advisable for that matter – to improve the quality of remote working frameworks virtually overnight. Instead, a gradual process of adaptation and change is called for, and this also overlaps with the topic of leadership.
Companies that would like to find out more about this subject can contact Prof. Michael Bartz at IMC Krems (michael.bartz(at)fh-krems.ac.at).
The study is available as an e-book or paperback (German only):