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A short article by Marianne Bähr, Senior Change & Transformation Expert at A1 Telekom Austria AG

In the past two years we have seen many companies adopt virtual meeting and workshop formats for the first time, not because they suddenly felt adventurous and wanted to explore “new” methods, but mostly because well-known circumstances forced them to do so.
Some of these companies are now itching to revert back to the old ways and to have employees return to their offices for in-person meetings and on-site workshops as soon as the pandemic allows everyone to do so. Others, however, have come to realise that there are many positive aspects of remote collaboration that are worth keeping and improving even in times when working from home is an option rather than a necessity.
So, what are the positive aspects of remote work, apart from the most obvious ones, i.e. less time spent on commutes including all the positive environmental effects that come with that, and more time for family and personal interests?
For once, remote work can boost productivity of more introverted employees who flourish when able to work in an environment where they do not need to engage in small talk and have to suffer interruptions by people stopping by their desk unannounced to ask for something that they promise will “take just two seconds” of their time…but then takes 30 minutes at least. Sure, interruptions are also possible by phone or chat, but it is easy to set them on silent or put your status as “busy”.
It is easier for people with reduced mobility or other physical handicaps to take part in virtual meetings than in in-person meetings that require travel and potentially a lot of logistical effort.
Colleagues who do not fall into the “9-5 desk worker” category, but might be service technicians or sales staff for example, often feel excluded from the opportunity to attend on-site events on topics relevant to them, simply because they find it impossible to fit into their schedules if travel time is required.
Virtual recruiting tools can be a blessing for all parties involved: no travel time and expense for candidates, easier scheduling for recruiters and hiring managers and the opportunity for Gen-Z applicants to use media they feel familiar with, to name but a few advantages. Needless to say, virtual collaboration also allows companies to cast their nets much wider and find experts who live in another part of the country, or even abroad.
Is working only remotely the answer for everything then? No, it is not. There are many examples where virtual formats are indeed not the best option if there is the alternative of meeting in person. The future of work is hybrid and we should reflect which formats add value for what setting and which stakeholders. What we should avoid at all cost is pressing the “Rewind-to-February-2020” button, thereby letting all those learnings of the past two years evaporate.


Do not miss Marianne’s case study dedicated to the challenges of the pandemic and how it changed us during our 9th Annual Strategic HR Summit: Leadership Development, Talent management & Recruitment on 18th – 19th May 2022 in Berlin.

Marianne Bähr is a Senior Change & Transformation Expert at A1 Telekom Austria AG. When she graduated from university with an Arts degree in 1997, Marianne had no idea that HR would become her passion. Truth be told, she had not even heard of Human Resources as a career opportunity at the time. After working nine years in the PR and Culture Department at the Japanese Embassy in Vienna and a further ten at Google in various roles, including Sales, Marianne joined A1 Austria in 2017. She believes that her intercultural experience and non-linear career path are an advantage when it comes to understanding the needs and concerns of employees from diverse backgrounds as she helps them embrace change and personal development. In pre-pandemic times Marianne used to travel a lot…in 2020 she did what everyone else did and got hooked on baking sourdough bread, which is still going strong.


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