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Digital Workplace: Employees need skills and mindset

Mobility, flexibility and networked cooperation play an essential role in today’s world of work. Companies can better meet these challenges by introducing the Digital Workplace. The Digital Workplace is a central work environment that employees can access from any location and at any time. It comprises all sets of access infrastructures, applications and device platforms required by information or knowledge workers to perform their work and collaborate. All data is in one place and is quickly and easily accessible. At the digital workplace, employees are more self-determined, freer and therefore more efficient. That is the company view. Employees may see things differently. What are the consequences? 

A central working environment that inspires collaboration and teamwork, intelligently links knowledge and know-how and provides integrated data and information in a smart way. What sounds like music to entrepreneurs and process optimizers would be formulated in a completely different way by some employees: “I have to be available at all times” – “I have less free time” – “Sooner or later I will get cut off”. To put it clearly: the skepticism towards the Digital Workplace is prevalent among the working population. In May 2019, the German opinion research portal Civey asked about the expectations of employees regarding the development of the workload due to digitization. 44.2 percent of respondents believe it would increase significantly or rather. Just as many participants said that people were not at the center of the development of digital technologies; only 20.7 percent believed this. After all, many recognized the advantages of a digital workplace. All in all, however, despite all fears, the acceptance of digitization in professional life is increasing. In an online survey conducted by market researchers at EARSandEYES in May 2019, 60 percent regarded digital change as a gain.

24/7 collaboration increases productivity

Concerns about the Digital Workplace as well as hopes of improving work processes are justified. The former are based on the recognition that the Digital Workplace intervenes massively in the work processes of every employee. A digital workplace requires quick reactions, willing sharing of knowledge and also means that in a team, for example, everyone can see whether someone is available online. Mutual control and transparency can also reduce silo thinking, domination and intrigue. In addition, the Digital Workplace makes classic departmental and hierarchical structures obsolete because applications are all on one platform, isolated solutions can be resolved, data management becomes more consistent, collaboration functions support cross-departmental project structures and promote rapid reaction to changing market and customer requirements. Old power and responsibility relationships are a thing of the past.

With mobile access to business applications, time- and location-dependent working time models are lost. This means that employees can be reached around the clock, especially in virtual teams distributed around the globe. Even if this facilitates collaboration with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners and increases productivity, the real-time flow of communication can become a burden. Dedicated employees, in particular, run the risk of losing their work-life balance if they can be reached at all times and are under constant internal pressure.

Technology also needs a digital cultural change

In addition to the burnout risks, companies should also pick up employees who are skeptical or hostile to new technologies. To ensure that the Digital Workplace actually supports agile work leads to improved collaboration across existing silo structures and increases productivity, users must also adapt their work processes and self-management. The introduction of technology in itself is not yet digitalization, and no employee changes his or her working method by work instructions, becoming more open and accessible for collaborative sharing of knowledge. Nor can a willingness to help or commitment to new challenges in other departments be ordered. Therefore, with the introduction of digital workplaces, companies should also initiate a digital cultural change. The “rules of the game” can help to promote acceptance of the technology and the new work processes and simultaneously prevent a complete dissolution of boundaries between work and private life. A company must be present 24/7, but not its employees. E-mails at night or on weekends should be taboo in a digital culture. Downtime should not be frowned upon but encouraged. In such a culture, employees must also develop their own digital skills. It is helpful, for example, if HR departments offer systematic competency management for employees. The result is to support employees in expanding their learning abilities to expand their competencies through further training follows the content and technical requirements. This is the only way to create a new mindset with which digital processes can be lived successfully, without sending employees from one overload to the next.

Conclusion: Digitalization must put people at the center of attention

There is no alternative to accelerated digitization of all areas of work. But dealing with technology and people will probably decide how successful companies will be in global digital competition. In addition to technology, this also requires the commitment of employees.

Human-Centered Workplace: The Digital Workplace is more than the introduction of innovative technology; it must consider the needs and requirements of all employees. Ideally, the Digital Workplace places the employee at the center and examines his or her working methods and processes, while the Digital Workplace becomes the Human-Centered Workplace. Daily recurring processes and complex tasks should be automated in a way that they become really easier for the user. The HR and IT departments ideally work hand in hand in the development and implementation of the Digital Workplace.
Employee development: Changes will hardly be possible without competent employees. They need to be trained in applications, be able to recognize connections and develop awareness for the advantages of the new way of working. Important: IT employees should also be involved here.  Active competence management is based, among other things, on a systematic GAP analysis of employees and compensates for possible weaknesses in the use of tools and new structures.
Promoting employee satisfaction: Freedoms such as flexible, self-determined and locally self-determined work such as home office and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) promote the acceptance of the Digital Workplace, the commitment and satisfaction of employees can increase. However, higher productivity and better performance should not be cannibalized by increased pressure on employees.
Workplace Support: There is no need for information overload. Technology today allows us to provide employees with the information they need to do their jobs, in the right form, at the right time. Every company has to find its way.

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Skilled Worker of India are going to come to Germany

Skilled workers from all over the world: Recruiting made easy for companies

There is a shortage of skilled workers in Germany. The lack already leads to sales losses in many companies. This is why TÜV Rheinland Academy has developed a practice-oriented model with which it is possible to recruit qualified specialists from all over the world on time. The first automotive mechatronics technicians to work at Hyundai dealers in Germany will be coming from India these days. TÜV Rheinland Academy takes over everything that burdens companies. How does the process work?

Hardly any medium-sized company or group is satisfied with the recruitment of skilled workers in Germany. Depending on the study, up to 450,000 well-trained specialists are lacking each year, mainly in the STEM subjects, i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Since other countries in the world are much more consistent in their qualification of STEM, international recruiting is a sensible way for industries and companies to cover the shortage of specialists and to match demand and need perfectly. If only it weren’t for the lack of contacts to suitable applicants, the language barriers, and the associated bureaucracy to allow international specialists to enter the country. Just thinking about it might make some HR departments feel overwhelmed. Even though the law on the immigration of skilled workers has lowered some hurdles, specialized know-how is needed to organize the legal prerequisites for the migration of immigrants into the local labor market.

TÜV Rheinland Academy has now developed a model with which companies can meet their demand for skilled workers in a targeted and timely manner – without having to worry about the associated formalities and the sophisticated recruitment and qualification process – to overcome precisely these hurdles. Above all, they can be sure that the new employees actually meet the desired requirement profile.

The Academy is currently running pilot projects with various partners from the motor vehicle sector. The initial pilot project was launched at the beginning of 2019 to meet the demand for automotive mechatronics technicians at Hyundai Motor Deutschland GmbH. By 2022, TÜV Rheinland Academy is to recruit up to 250 specialists in India. The first 100 have already been won and are currently being prepared with their local colleagues for their deployment in Germany. The new employees commit themselves for at least 36 months. If an employee is absent prematurely, TÜV Rheinland Academy will fill the position again.

Good qualification and motivation
With the new model, the client benefits from the expertise of TÜV Rheinland Academy in the area of competence development and from the internationality of TÜV Rheinland Academy in more than 26 countries. Cooperation within the TÜV Rheinland Group begins with a competent local recruitment process and continues through to integration management in Germany.
In the current case, the Indian branch of TÜV Rheinland Academy identifies suitable candidates on the basis of the requirements profile drawn up by the client. In India, for example, there are seven university degrees that are comparable to the occupational profile and competence profile of the local mechatronics technician. The shortlist will include applicants who speak excellent English and have at least two years of practical work experience. Together with the client’s personnel, TÜV Rheinland Academy conducts the first interviews with applicants. Besides, the candidates are thoroughly prepared both linguistically and technically for the future requirements in Germany. Via language schools and in future also by means of virtual language training, they acquire language level A2 with a certificate and take the B1 examination in the first three months after arrival and are further qualified to B2 if required.
If there is a need for further professional training, the specialists to be placed are trained in the contents by TÜV Rheinland Academy with online learning that has been tried and tested over many years. The complete materials of the dual German vocational training as a mechatronics technician form the basis.

Complex procedures for professional recognition and entry
Once the mechatronics engineers have signed their employment contract, the TÜV Rheinland Academy team in India will continue to guide them through the process. Among other things, it prepares them thoroughly for the cultural and labor law conditions in Germany – supported by the team of TÜV Rheinland Academy in Germany. The German colleagues take care of the recognition of the Indian qualification certificates in this case and the residence regulations. TÜV Rheinland Academy has agreed with the Cologne Chamber of Crafts (HWK) on a procedure for the examination of certificates so that formal recognition by the decentralized HWK can take place quickly. Visas and other proofs, according to the recently passed law on the immigration of skilled workers complete the preparation for entry. By the time the plane takes off for Germany, around 30 documents per person will have to be processed, partially translated, and certified. This effort has already been standardized to such an extent that TÜV Rheinland Academy will be able to bring numerous specialists to Germany every month in the future if required.

It is still a pilot project, but it is starting off so promisingly that it will be extended to other countries in the international TÜV Rheinland network as well as other technical professions and sectors. Numerous other companies from medium-sized businesses and industry have already expressed a great deal of interest. Soon we will report on the progress of this project – the best thing is to come back soon.