From New Forms of Communication to Less Commutes

Stefanie Nickel, chair of the Staff Council

What will teams and management need to pay particular attention to in order to ensure mobile working is successful?

Teams and management will need to ensure that their working relationship is based on trust: There needs to be a basic assumption that employees are actually working while at home. Supervisors should not monitor them, in the same way that they would not monitor staff at the office. This requires clear agreements and discussions in advance, such as about being able to reach and contact one another.

Shaun Rudorf, chair of the Staff Council for Student Assistants

Student assistants frequently work as tutors or in laboratories. Where do you believe student assistants will be able to make use of mobile working?

It is great that issues such as reachability, change of work location, working hours and special situations are regulated so that, for example, computations and laboratory documentation or preparations for tutorials can be carried out off campus and securely.

Angela Fiebig, representative for staff with disabilities

Mobile working allows staff to organize their day and working environment more flexibly. Where do you see the greatest opportunities of mobile working for employees with physical disabilities?

Mobile working is attractive to all employees. For those with severe disabilities, it offers even more advantages. For instance, individuals with mobility restrictions may benefit by no longer needing to commute each day. They can individually and flexibly organize their workday so that they can more easily attend regular therapy treatments. A flexible workday also means that staff with disabilities can plan their breaks and schedule to fit their needs and abilities, and thus work more effectively.

Christoph Roesrath, head of faculty administration, Faculty VI Planning Building Environment

What advantages do you believe mobile working offers?

In the future, mobile working will allow many employees to flexibly schedule their work and increase TU Berlin’s appeal as an employer. The last 16 months have shown that along with a willingness to embrace new digital tools, mobile working is possible in many areas and something many employees do not want to give up.

What challenges will we need to face to successfully adapt to a more flexible way of working?

Mobile working can only be successful if we provide adapted work routines in secure IT environments. As this is not possible in all areas, such as labs and workshops, we need to make sure to avoid a two-class working world. We need to harmonize processes between mobile and in-presence work. Shaping this change will be one of the greatest challenges.

Annette Hiller, deputy and acting head of the Section on Matters of Academic Self-Administration and TU Berlin data protection officer

Are there certain aspects regarding data protection that we should consider when adopting mobile working? If so, what are they?

The golden rule of data protection – and this includes when working remotely – is “As little as possible, as much as necessary.” So I often ask myself: Do I really need access to this data? When working from home, is it possible that an unauthorized person will gain access to my work data because the system isn’t secure, someone is looking over my shoulder, other family members use the same computer, etc? On its website, the data protection team has put together tips and guidelines for data protection when working from home. Take a look!

Maria Oswald, women’s representative in the Central University Administration (ZUV)

What can be done to prevent women experiencing an increased workload at home due to mobile working?

Studies show that the combination of working from home and homeschooling may lead to a return to traditional gender roles and that concentrated work at home for hours on end is difficult, especially for women, due to the double challenge of family and career. Therefore, it is advisable to first try out where you (especially women) can work well or want to work and to what extent.

What advice do you have?

It can be helpful to clearly separate professional work and care work, structure your day, and make clear arrangements with all members of the family.

Alexander Moritz, advisor for organizational development, Office of the Vice President for Administration

One working group aims to develop etiquette guidelines for mobile working. Why is this important?

Good collaboration isn’t a given. To ensure that we get along and work well together, including when working remotely, we need a mutual understanding of the possibilities but also the limits of this concept.

Introducing and implementing mobile working is an organizational development process requiring open and constructive communication between management and employees in all directions. We need to embrace dialog to find suitable new forms and rules of collaboration.

To achieve this, we have to ask ourselves:

How do we create a feeling of social proximity and sense of community despite being apart physically?

How do we develop mutual trust and confidence that this process will succeed?

How do we combine mobile and in-presence work?

How we choose to shape this process will also impact and shape us as people. Let’s take this on together to achieve even better collaboration at TU Berlin!




Interviewer: Christina Camier

Johannes Roderer, research associate, Faculty V Mechanical Engineering and Transport Systems

Would you like to work remotely 40% of the week? What would be your reasons for doing so?

I took up my position at TU Berlin in November 2020, which means that I have only worked remotely since then except for maybe one day a week, where I went into the office. As a result, I’ve learned to appreciate both modes of working, and I enjoy the benefits of both. I find working on campus to be essential. Meeting colleagues to discuss details in passing or getting to know my colleagues over lunch are important to me, both to work efficiently as well as emotionally. Online tools can only replace face-to-face meetings to a certain extent.

At the same time, working remotely means I gain more free time. Even though I live in Berlin, I commute 45 minutes each way by bike. This is time I usually enjoy and use to decompress. Working on campus five days a week, however, means my commute totals 7.5 hours – valuable time I could use to dedicate to other projects and hobbies or simply to relax. This is why I would like to work remotely part time. I find 40 to 50% a good balance.

Madlen Sanchino Martinez, Advisor for Staff Development, Department II - Human Resources and Legal Affairs

Do we still have much to learn about mobile working?

I think we have all experienced a steep learning curve over the last 16 months and learned a great deal along the way, particularly regarding the use of equipment. We are now ready to take the next steps.

Where was the highest demand during the pandemic?

There was a particular demand for offers dealing with the technical and digital requirements of mobile working, in other words working with and possible uses of technical tools.

Do you see a need for different skills for future, permanent mobile working compared to during the acute phase of the pandemic?

In addition to technical skills, we also need to train our staff on issues such as the impact of the digital space on leadership and working together and team culture as well as reflect on changes to working culture and procedure