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Home office after the pandemic: Novartis monitors employees in the home office, but on a voluntary basis | message


Home office or office?

The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is drawing the first conclusions from the corona pandemic and is giving its employees the opportunity to work from home at will in the future.

Because of the lockdown, most office workers around the world were forced to work from home. This has prompted companies to rethink their approach so that the world of work may continue to change drastically. The concept of open-plan offices is being questioned by many corporations because the employees have proven that they can work reliably and efficiently even in the home office.

In addition, the mask requirement in the offices “will probably lead to even more employees wanting to work from home, but that’s okay for us,” said Novartis HR manager Steven Baert on the situation in an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger. Novartis has already implemented the ‘Choice with Responsibility‘ concept – in other words, decision-making with responsibility, which means that employees can decide individually whether they work in the office or at home.

Work in the home office is digitally controlled

Baert explains that it was found that the employees would also do the same work in the home office, nonetheless Novartis controls the employees in the home office. “We use‘ workplace analytics ‘. This enables us to measure whether employees are making phone calls, writing e-mails, or are in digital meetings,” says Baert.

However, the employees are free to decide whether to allow this control mechanism. But according to Baert, only three percent rejected this data collection.

In addition, employees can use the Tignum X app of their own free will, but this is not provided for monitoring purposes either. Tignum X only regulates the user’s daily routine and makes recommendations as to when breaks should be taken. This is to protect the employees in the home office against overload.

Baert explains, “The key is that these offers are optional. We don’t expect people to use the app mentioned. We don’t even know how many people are actively using it. Furthermore, it’s important for me to emphasize that data protection and the privacy of our employees are absolutely central. ”

Hybrid model as a future concept

The company only complies with the wishes of the employees to be able to work more flexibly, explains Baert. In terms of office space, Novartis is not interested in saving money either. “I think we will need less space for individual workstations in the future, but on the other hand we need more team workspaces. The bottom line is that this should be more or less balanced,” says Baert.

In addition, the majority of the workforce does not want to work exclusively in the home office, but just have the freedom to do so. Baert therefore sees a hybrid model as the future at Novartis.

Most employees are also given 680 francs to set up their home office appropriately.

Henry Ely / editors

Image sources: Ivan Kruk /, kozirsky /

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