coworkers in office space
On the record

Rethinking offices: new paradigms in DACH workplaces


June 10, 2024


June 10, 2024

Is the physical office becoming obsolete?

As hybrid work models become prominent, we wonder if more days spent working from home mean offices will become empty money vacuums. 

We have two conclusions. One, more people want hybrid rather than fully remote settings for greater work-life balance and the ability to connect with colleagues, meaning the physical office still holds great value. Two, deskbird data of office utilization reveals 63.78% weekly usage across 11 cities in the DACH region,1 suggesting that office space is still essential to business function.

The imperative for hybrid work

Office utilization is on the rise, but the role of the office has changed for many employees. It is no longer a space for the daily grind, where managers are peering over shoulders, and being present is the only means to show dedication. Now, the physical workplace is an occasional hub of connection and innovation, where employees come to build relationships with their colleagues and work on tasks that require in-person coordination and brainstorming. 

Hybrid work has also proven to be a necessity for attracting and retaining top talent. While some thought this flexible work model would be a passing trend, it has quickly become the new standard. Research by Gallup found that

40% of remote-capable employees have shifted from working entirely on-site to either a hybrid or exclusively remote work arrangement.

Due to the greater work-life balance experienced by employees in hybrid models, they are generally happier at work, meaning they are less likely to leave the company. Additionally, employees expect to have these options, or if not, will choose to work elsewhere. The same Gallup study mentioned above also found that “Eight in 10 remote-capable employees expect to work hybrid or fully remote.” It has become such an important benefit that workers are even choosing a flexible model over higher pay in some cases.

Simply put: the world of work has changed. Companies need to adapt to these expectations or risk losing their workforce.  

Legal and cultural enablers

Are DACH laws paving the way for new models or hindering progress regarding hybrid work?

Overall, the legal frameworks in the DACH region support flexible work as they prioritize employee wellbeing. With health and safety being of the utmost importance, the laws in this region lend themselves well to hybrid work. In general, however, there is no specific legislation around hybrid work in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. While there are related laws, there is no explicit statement regarding the concept. 

In Germany, while hybrid work is allowed by law, employers need to get consent from their employees before enforcing such a model if there is a change in their employment contract. Similarly, any form of remote work that employees want to undertake must be agreed upon by the employer. Employers also have a general obligation to provide the necessary office equipment regardless of employee location. This is important in hybrid settings, as employees need to ensure their team’s home offices are equipped with the right technology and resources.

In Austria, there also needs to be an agreement between the employer and employee when implementing a hybrid work model. Like Germany, the right resources must be provided to those working from home. Additionally, Austria has specific laws around telework or work done outside of the office, such as providing the same working conditions, rights, and protections no matter where an employee works. For example, expenses must be covered, and data protection should be the same.  

In Switzerland, laws require employers to protect the health and safety of their team. In this case, if it is not safe to come to the office, employees are legally allowed to work from home. And as in the rest of the region, health and safety are protected by law no matter where the person works. Additionally, the Swiss Code of Obligations requires employers to provide employees with suitable working conditions, including hybrid settings, if that is the model chosen by the employer. Additionally, in Switzerland, laws only allow employees to legally work a certain amount of hours per day. 

From a cultural perspective, the region has been very receptive to hybrid work models with a general shift towards blending in-person and remote work in the region. 

group of coworkers in a hybrid office

The DACH region highly values disconnecting from work and having a fulfilling personal life. This, of course, lends itself to implementing work models that do the same. However, work ethic is also a critical core value that allows for flexible models to flourish because employees are personally committed to their jobs and the quality of their work, needing less monitoring or micromanagement. 

The region is also known for its innovation and tech savviness, allowing for a smooth transition into using technology to facilitate remote and hybrid work. Because digital literacy is so high in the region, the adoption of such work models is more widespread. 

Since the region also greatly values professionalism and formality, this lends well to hybrid models, as employees are expected to maintain a professional manner no matter the setting. In turn, employers have greater trust in their teams and, therefore, tend to give them greater autonomy. This works well because individuals are expected to deliver quality work without supervision.

On the other hand, it is generally conservative in terms of work culture. Hybrid work was not heavily adopted until the pandemic. Hybrid has proven to be an ideal model because face-to-face interaction can still be maintained, which is valued in work environments in the DACH region. This also quells some of the worries of those with an affinity for more conservative work environments.


When it comes to the relevance of office space in a world where hybrid and remote models have taken hold, there is a strong debate taking place: is the office essential for collaboration or a relic of the past?

First, let’s dive into the cost implications of running an office. A business has to pay for rent, maintenance, and keeping the lights on. All of which mean paying a price. But, hybrid models account for great cost savings. First, the space can be downsized if fewer people come into the office on certain days. For example, if 50% of the team comes in on Tuesdays and 50% on Wednesdays, then the business can rent an office half the size with cheaper rent. Similarly, fewer people coming in means fewer energy resources are used, not only saving money but also contributing to sustainability. 

This can be implemented using desk booking and meeting room booking platforms that collect data on space utilization to make data-driven decisions about how much space is needed. 

➡ ️ Check out deskbird’s Cost-Saving Calculator to find out how much you can save by transitioning to hybrid! 

Second, it is important to understand how an in-person environment contributes to collaboration, productivity, and engagement.

The key here is balance. The office serves its purpose of connecting people, contributing to essential relationships and friendship building that leads to loyal and committed employees. On the other hand, the autonomy to work from home when needed allows for greater work-life balance and employee well-being. And as research shows, with happier employees comes greater productivity. A study from the University of Oxford found that workers are 13% more productive when happy. When well-rested and less stressed about commuting or caring for family, we can focus more on our actual work. 


We can confidently say that hybrid work is here to stay in the DACH region. While traditional workplaces still hold great value, giving employees the opportunity to work from home is equally important. Not only is hybrid work a cultural fit for the region, but it also has benefits for both the business and its employees.


  1. Data collected from 01.09.2023 to 29.02.2024 in 11 cities in DACH region, including but not limited to: Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Zurich
Rethinking offices: new paradigms in DACH workplaces

Annabel Benjamin

Annabel is a hybrid work expert who combines insightful strategies with practical applications to help navigate the changing landscape of modern employment. Her writings provide a wealth of tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to boost productivity, foster team cohesion, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in hybrid settings. 

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