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Flexibility is opportunity
Dr. Jorg Matthias Grossmann, Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer, Freudenberg Chemical Specialities KG
Issue Date - 01/07/2012
Q. How will the changing psychology of the employees shape the workplace of the future?
A. IT and modern communication media have a big impact on the mindset and behaviour of qualified employees. These technical trends will bring further key changes to the workplace. Information is available to employees all over the world and networking amongst them has intensified. Hence, international skills are becoming more and more important.

Q. How is Freudenberg preparing itself for the future office? What are the challenges involved in gearing up for it?
A. Freudenberg already has a presence in 58 countries and offers its customers technically challenging products and services. Events such as the ‘Global Innovation Forum’ (a series of R&D conferences) network specialists all over the world. Moreover, these specialists frequently cooperate at a virtual level as highly dynamic, cross-functional project teams.

The challenges lie in intercultural cooperation, in other words in the different ways in which projects are approached. In this context, companies must ensure there is an appropriate understanding of different cultures and the requisite flexibility.

Q. How can HR prepare the employees to deal with the challenge of no permanent jobs and keep their morale high?
A. Nevertheless, qualified employees in particular must appreciate the considerable significance of flexibility. Human resources must provide the appropriate instruments and support employees by encouraging flexibility of location as well as willingness to take on new tasks. It is precisely this indispensable flexibility that must be understood as an opportunity. Human resources must support employees in this process, thus maintaining loyalty and motivation at a high level.

Q. With the office of the future going virtual, how relevant will be the minimum required or retirement age for employees?
A. Diversity is the watchword of the future. Organisations will only be successful if they extract and use the best of ethnic, gender and age diversity. And in the light of demographic change, we must ensure we can call on the knowledge of experienced employees for as long as possible.

Sanghamitra Khan           

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