For futurologist Matthias Horx, the office is not dead. Remote work and digitization have been boosted in the course of Corona, but at the same time have been put into perspective. Managers from Datev, Hornbach, Mercer and Vaude subjected Horx’s theses to a reality check.
If someone had bet at the beginning of the year that millions of employees would be working from home within a few days in mid-March, this would only have caused a completely disbelieving shake of the head. In the wake of the Corona epidemic, this future of work had to happen much earlier than expected. The management consultancy Mercer therefore invited to the virtual “Human Work / s Talk”, in which HR and company bosses deal with the current theses of the futurologist Matthias Horx.
“Digitization is accelerating and relativizing at the same time”, Horx formulated his first thesis in the video. The past few months have shown that the more we use digital technology, such as video conferencing, the yearning for the analogue grows. Real physical encounters will continue to be difficult to replace in two areas in particular – with very complex problems and when something new is to be created. Horx spoke of “digital realism”, that is, a realistic assessment of artificial intelligence (AI): “The virus was not pushed back by AI, but only by changing human behavior that we moved away from each other.”
Secondly, Horx does not see the exclusive work in the home office as a solution: “After six months at the latest, most are fed up, concentrated work is not possible at home if the children have to be looked after at the same time.” Even social interaction, as is possible in the office, is virtually impossible to achieve. That is why Horx advocated an “individualization of work” that should enable everyone to work in a way that still allows an organizational form of the company.
An ideal goal, but it has its limits in everyday life. For example for Karsten Kühn, CMO and Labor Director of the hardware store chain Hornbach. In its markets, employees will still have to be there for local customers. That’s why he finds it inappropriate for other employees to post home office pictures that show them in a purely leisure environment.
Achim Lüder, CEO of Mercer Germany, cannot determine the working environment of his consultants alone. As with Hornbach, Lüders Korrektiv is the customer. And before Corona, corporate customers always insisted that the highly paid consultants were on site with them. This dogma should be lifted.