At the height of the first Corona wave, when all employees were called to work from home by law, Herder Verlag still had to improvise. Laptops for the employees were gathered from all floors of the Freiburg headquarters, the devices were equipped with VPN and video conference software, availability lists were written and all of this was quickly distributed. Shortly afterwards, the “Red House” on Hermann-Herder-Strasse was deserted except for the emergency occupation.
Some employees still work from home to this day. “As perfidious as it sounds: Corona was also a huge opportunity for us,” says owner Manuel Herder in retrospect. “We had to set up digitally in an incredibly short time. That was pure stress for each of us. But we had to.” Today Herder does not want to go back to the old analogue era at any cost, which was not a really good one for either the employees or the company. With digitization, the business rationale has been met, says Herder. “But it also gives our employees more freedom of choice and higher job satisfaction. So two birds with one stone.”
Others, on the other hand, tend to see the dark side of digitization: standard instead of individual solutions, less personal contact with colleagues and customers, but more stress if the server fails or the network jerks. Admittedly: That sucks. Nevertheless, the increased and networked use of computers can help to make the world, or at least the workplace, a little bit better.
Free time management, better work results and more demanding tasks – this is technically possible
Here is an opportunity for employers to make their balance sheet and their employees shine at the same time. Software relieves clerks of monotonous jobs, and in order to communicate with one another over long distances, nobody has to stand in a traffic jam or in the security gate. E-mails, messengers and video conferences make it possible to work together on complex projects across oceans.
Younger employees, in particular, hope that digitization will improve the compatibility of family and work, free time management, better work results and more demanding tasks. Technically, all of this has long been possible. “Automated processes can relieve employees of routine work,” assures Oliver Henrich, Vice President of the software and cloud provider Sage in Frankfurt. “You can use the time that is freed up to concentrate on your core tasks.” If you want and the employers organize training. “All of this together can ensure positive employee experiences – which in turn increases productivity,” argues Henrich.
For the initiative “Handicraft is the future” of the insurance company Signal Iduna, the managing director of a plumbing company reports that he had to get by with fewer employees after the introduction of a tradesman software because many did not want to go along with the digitization process. In return, the work became easier for everyone else.
The managing director holds the morning team meeting digitally with his employees. This saves the trip to the factory and the installers can drive directly to the customer. Thanks to the order documentation integrated in the software, the managing director can keep an eye on the construction progress at all times. Warehousing costs are now at an absolute minimum because the company only orders when needed and only picks up the materials from the wholesaler when they are needed. The managing director is completely satisfied: “Even small changes make a big difference.”
In principle, digitization is even able to create more sustainability. 74 percent of the roughly one thousand people who the industry association Bitkom recently asked about the climate effects of digitization see it the same way. Only one in five (21 percent) emphasizes the risk perspective. The electric car is a prime example for optimists: a computer on four wheels with zero CO2 emissions. This enables even the smallest businesses to demonstrate their sense of responsibility for the environment.
With the use of digital technologies, CO2 can also be saved
In larger companies, many processes can be designed ecologically with the help of digital technologies, for example through resource-saving work or the operation of networked machines and systems with renewable energies. Those who specifically look out for the advantages of sustainable management can save costs, make their employees happier and gain a positive image in the market.
However, the digital industry must help with this search, demands Bitkom Managing Director Bernhard Rohleder: “The CO2 saving potential of digital technologies is five times higher than their own footprint. It is important that we show more clearly where and how energy can be saved with digital solutions . “
Companies deal with their digital responsibility for people and the environment differently. While it is extremely popular to establish guidelines and principles, concrete measures require money first. And budgets are usually only shoveled free when there is no other way.
This is proven by Deutsche Telekom’s digitization index. In 2021, due to the corona crisis, this increased by two points, namely to 58 out of a possible 100 points. As a result, the companies surveyed were able to increase their sales by at least 38 percent, and large companies by as much as 75 percent. Anyone who was already well positioned digitally was able to react more flexibly to the crisis and implement new business models more quickly.