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Home office: Everything to claim, Corona, regulation + 50 tips

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Working from home is a dream for many employees. Finally work from home, no longer have to commute, organize your own work more flexibly - that sounds like more freedom, self-determination and less stress. On the other hand, there are some disadvantages: Home office workstations require a lot of self-discipline, focus and clear boundaries. In addition, many questions have to be answered, first and foremost: "Do I have the right to work from home?" Here we give you an overview of home office regulations, numerous practical tips and answer the most important questions about home office ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is home office? definition

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: "Home office"). Most employees in Germany understand this to be a workplace at home. So either your own home office, an "office in your own home". Or at least a desk in a separate corner where they can work from home.

According to the official definition, the home office is part of teleworking. This is a flexible form of work in which employees can do all or part of their work from home or in their private surroundings.

In contrast to this, workers “working from home” also work from home, but often self-employed on a fee basis.

3 forms of telework

There are three different forms of teleworking:

  • In the Teleworking the employee works exclusively from home. The home office also corresponds to the full-time workplace.
  • In the alternating teleworking the permanent employee works sometimes in the home office, sometimes in the company, i.e. in the employer's office. This is the most common form of teleworking. However, this requires official home office regulations and agreements in order to organize the work of several employees who alternate in this way. At the same time, this form can significantly reduce operating costs, because not all employees are always in the office at the same time and therefore fewer jobs have to be made available there.
  • In the mobile teleworking in turn, the employee works on the go - in the café, in the car, on the train, on the plane (see: Mobile Workspace). This form is usually found in sales or consulting. It is associated with some technical effort, because the employees have to have mobile access to the company's IT infrastructure - and at the same time in such a way that the data remains secure.

Home office: advantages & disadvantages

The home office is not a universal solution. It has different advantages and disadvantages that employers and employees should be aware of before making any decision for or against. For example, it is positive that employees can save themselves the trip to the office. This reduces stress, cuts costs, is good for the environment and creates additional free time.

Conversely, in the home office there is a risk of numerous distraction traps from children or one's own partner or the feeling of loneliness due to the lack of social contacts. In addition, the boundaries between professional and private life are usually blurred at home (see: Work-Life-Blending) Every medal has two sides. Therefore, here is an overview of the most important advantages and disadvantages. These must be weighed up in each case:

Home office benefits

  • Time saving (no commuting)
  • Independent work
  • More flexible work schedule
  • Increased productivity (study, PDF)
  • Work-life balance
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Cost reduction

Basically, it can be proven by means of various studies that employees who can voluntarily (!) Switch to the home office, voluntarily work longer, are more concentrated and more productive, are less sick (thanks to a lower risk of infection) and are overall more satisfied with their work. The last point in particular is repeatedly cited in studies as the greatest advantage of a home office scheme. Employees given this option are happier at work, are more motivated and are more loyal to their employer in the long run.

Home office disadvantages

  • Distraction risks
  • More self-discipline
  • More organizational effort
  • Social isolation
  • Work-life blending
  • Permanent availability
  • Data security requirements

One of the biggest disadvantages, however, is the increasing invisibility in the home office. Other studies have shown that bosses are less aware of the increased performance of their employees in the home office. As a result, they received less pay rises or promotions. To counteract these disadvantages, we have put together some tips for you in this free PDF on how to qualify for salary increases in the home office and thus promote your career from home.

When does it make sense to work from home?

There are no clear studies on this. Some employees work more undisturbed at home and are therefore more productive and welcome the free time management in the home office. For others, the lack of social contact and the higher degree of self-organization cause problems. Would you like to go to the neighboring office to chat with your colleague or get advice? Doesn't work here. Employers, in turn, can save office costs thanks to home office regulations, but on the other hand they fear losing control over working hours.

Stanford researcher Nicholas Bloom came to the conclusion that home workers are more productive than their colleagues in the office because they make 13.5 percent more calls (they go faster) and take fewer breaks. In turn, the employer even saved EUR 1900 office costs per person in the nine months of the study. However: at the end of the experiment, the majority wanted to go back to the office. It was too lonely for them in the home office. Bloom therefore believes that the ideal can only be a hybrid.

Home office and Corona: what is currently valid?

The home office is an omnipresent topic, especially in the current corona pandemic. To reduce the risk of infection and to protect employees, many employers work from home as far as possible. But the situation also brings with it questions and uncertainties on both sides.

Can I work from home for fear of Corona?

The renewed increase in the number of infections is worrying. As understandable as it is to want to minimize the risk of infection, your fear alone is not enough to stay away from the office and work at home. Such a self-permitted regulation on home work is not permitted. You have to seek the conversation with the boss and find a common solution.

Can the boss order work from home?

Even in times of Corona, such unilateral orders are difficult if there is no employment contract regulation. Another possibility is a company agreement. Otherwise, it is a matter of agreement between the employee and the employer - for reasons of self-protection, however, there should be no discussions here.

If the supervisor thinks that an employee has Corona, he can send it home immediately to avoid possible infection. However, this is not a home office regulation, but a protective measure for employees and colleagues.

Do I have to work in quarantine at home?

The health department can impose an official quarantine at home for sick people and direct contact persons. If you can do your work at home - with the necessary equipment - you are still obliged to do so. The decisive factor here is whether you are actually ill in quarantine at home and therefore also on sick leave. In this case you don't have to work,

If it is not possible to work in quarantine, for example because you are working on a machine in the company, you cannot of course do so. However, through his right to issue instructions, the employer can assign you other tasks that you can do at home.

Home office regulation: Important questions & answers

Many employees would like to be able to work from home. However, there is often confusion when it comes to the rights and obligations associated with it. In order to provide more clarity and an overview, we answer the most common and most important questions about the home office:

Is there a right to work in the home office?

In the Federal Ministry of Labor there are concrete plans to give employees the right to work from home - but this has not yet been planned. Employees cannot simply demand to be able to work from home. Until possible changes in the law, the entrepreneurial activity of the company determines whether a home office regulation is introduced or not. On the other hand, a company cannot simply tell its employees to have to work from home. This is only possible if a corresponding regulation has already been built into the employment contract, which states that the employee works in the home office. If such a clause is missing, an employee cannot be unilaterally transferred to the home office by the boss.

Who bears the costs for the home office?

The cost of a home office often depends on the agreement between the employee and the company. In principle, the employer provides the necessary resources that employees need, for example a company laptop can be made available to work in the home office. Under certain circumstances, however, it may even be possible that the employer pays part of the rent. If, for example, you work almost exclusively at home and the company does not provide employees with a separate workplace, a lump sum for rent as well as energy and heating costs can be reimbursed by the employer.

How does the home office affect the tax?

If you work from home, this can have an impact on taxes. If you use a specially designated room almost exclusively for work, you can deduct this from tax. In addition, it must be clear that no other workstation will be made available to you. A written confirmation from the employer can help here. On the other hand, the flat-rate distance fee for trips to the office cannot be claimed if you work in the home office - which can lead to a higher burden.

What should a home office look like?

When it comes to furnishing and designing your home office, you are of course free to design it first. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the equipment that employees should consider in order to prevent possible problems. Because even in the home office, the conditions of occupational safety must be complied with. In other words: The work must not harm your health - this applies not only to dangerous activities, but also to a computer workstation, for example. The monitor shouldn't be too small and the lighting should also be right. It is also important that data protection is guaranteed in the home office. Neither company secrets nor personal data may be disclosed to the outside world. The room in which your home office is located should therefore be lockable.

Can the boss look at the home office?

The boss is not only allowed to, he even has to get an idea of ​​your home office. This is the only way he can judge whether the above requirements are met and whether the room is really suitable for work. However, your boss must not just stand in front of your door and ask that you let him into the apartment. Access authorization should therefore be agreed in the written home office regulation. Here it can also be recorded when and how often it is checked whether the occupational safety requirements are being complied with. In individual cases, you should speak to your boss at an early stage and find an appointment.

What working hours are prescribed in the home office?

Whether you work in the office or from home: The Working Hours Act applies equally to you and your work. In principle, therefore, a working time of eight hours per day is provided, 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 appropriate compensation for the additional work is granted within six months. Employees should also remember that one of their tasks is to document the working hours in the home office and to make this evidence available to the boss. This can be done, for example, in the form of a timesheet.

Am I allowed to take breaks in the home office?

In addition to the regulations on working hours, employees working from home are of course also entitled to breaks. You don't have to toil all day just because you work from home. For example, 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 from home for several days in a row, you should also ensure that there are sufficient rest periods between the two working days. Some workers tend to work late at home at home and start again much earlier than normal the next morning. A general break of 11 hours is required before you start work the next day.

What is the liability in the event of an accident in the home office?

In the event of an accident at work, you are covered by the statutory accident insurance, which also applies, for example, if you have an accident on the way to work. In principle, this also applies to the home office, but there are special features and restrictions here. The following applies: The protection of the accident insurance only applies in the home office if the accident occurs during an activity that is really part of your professional tasks. So if you buckle and tear your ligament during a business phone call, you are covered by accident insurance. If, on the other hand, you are boiling yourself into tea and scalding your hand in hot water or falling on the way to the toilet, it is not an accident at work and the accident insurance does not apply.

Do I always have to be available in the home office?

Employees working from home often have the feeling that they have to be available around the clock. You want to compensate for the fact that you are not sitting in the office with your colleagues - so that there are no communication problems at all, you are always available, whether early in the morning or late in the evening. However, this is absolutely not necessary and must not be required by the boss. During normal working hours you should also be available in your home office, but everything that goes beyond that is your free time and you no longer have to be available - if no other arrangements have been made. In addition, it is not a problem if you cannot answer the phone in your home office or answer an email within 30 seconds.

Will the employment contract for the home office regulation be changed?

A written regulation about the home office is recommended, although verbal agreements can also be made, but you do not have the opportunity to prove this and an oral commitment can usually be revoked. Typically, an addendum to the employment contract is written, which contains the arrangements, agreements and regulations for 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 times an employee should be available. If work equipment is made available, it can also be regulated that it is not intended for private consumption.

Home office job: wrong ideas & expectations

Many employees imagine the home office as professional heaven on earth. Finally work the way you want. According to your own biorhythm, flexible with more freedom and less stress. That sounds romantic, but it's also a bit naive. It is true that you have less contact with annoying colleagues or pushing superiors at home. To do this, you have to find a new daily structure and work routine at home.

The only one who now draws the line between work and private life is yourself. That means: You decide when to take a break (and you should do that regularly) or when to switch off after work and switch off - but really. Otherwise something like a warehouse fever is threatening soon.

In addition, working from home does not mean that you can work completely flexibly. You have more freedom than in the office, but the boss still dictates the working hours in which you have to be available. Only the place of work changes. This often requires clear agreements with the family at home.For example: “When the door is closed, I'm officially in the office and don't want to be disturbed.” Or: “I work from _____ to _____. During this time I cannot look after the children. "

Even if the employer supports work in the home office, the responsibility remains with you. In order not to drown in the home office, you cannot avoid effective self-management. Below are some tips and tried and tested strategies ...

Home office equipment: 50 tips for working from home

Working from home 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. Some find this easy, others face serious difficulties. We have put together an extensive list of 50 tips that will help you master the home office and fully enjoy the 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 the separation between private life and work easier and allows you to concentrate more. If there is no room of its own, we recommend at least a permanent workstation in another room.

Go to work mentally

For many, the working day begins with the trip to the office. In the home office you only have to go one door further, which can negatively affect the setting. Even if you are in the home office, you should be mentally prepared for work - shave and hairstyle, choose a suitable outfit and prepare for a normal working day.

Remove distractions

One of the biggest challenges in the home office are the countless distractions. Do something quickly, do the shopping in between, vacuum quickly and half the day is up. Working time is also working time in the home office. Eliminate distractions and exercise self-discipline.

Use all communication options

In the home office, the exchange with colleagues does not have to come to a standstill. Digitization and modern technology make it easy for you to maintain communication. Join meetings via video or telephone conference, arrange times for phone calls or work together on an online document.

Call it a day

In the home office, too, you should introduce fixed times when you leave work. Just because the work is at your home doesn't mean you have to spend the entire day doing it. If you leave the office at 6 p.m., you should keep doing this in your home office as well.

An extensive list with a total of 50 tips for working from home can be downloaded HERE as a PDF for free.

Applying for home office: How to convince your boss

Many want, few can - this is how the ratio of employees to the home office can be summarized. What is often missing is approval from the boss. In order for this to work, you need good arguments above all. You may find it convenient to be able to work from home. If you want to convince the employer of this, you have to explain how the company benefits too. It is also about dispelling doubts and making it clear to the boss that performance and results will not suffer if you work from home. So that you can do this, we have put together a three-step guide on how to convince your boss to work from home. Simply download this free PDF.

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