Home office and video calls are changing our status symbols

Dusseldorf “We shouldn’t try to get away from trying to represent ourselves using status symbols,” says Fabiola Gerpott. Yes, maybe we could work better and more freely in a world without status symbols, because then there would be no competition and no envy.

But that’s unrealistic, the 32-year-old knows, because everyone has status symbols – at work and in private. And because that is the case, she advises making the best of it: “We should accept and celebrate status symbols as part of our identity and ourselves.”

The professor of personnel management at the private WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management has been researching status symbols for a long time. For example, it examines how classics such as company cars, your own office, frequent flyer status and the like change over the years.

A lot happens, especially in times of the Corona: Many people sit in the home office and can only show their colleagues, bosses and customers who they are and what makes them special through a small tile.

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What types of virtual meetings are there? Which background – exclusive picture or rather one off the shelf, filter or glimpses into the home – is suitable in the video call with whom? And what does it do in people when they see themselves all the time (Gerpott: “For some, it’s a shock at first”) and hang as close to the face of others as you would never do in a room?

We talk to Fabiola Gerpott about all these questions, the styler type, racing and cargo bikes in the second part of Handelsblatt Rethink Work. The professor gives practical tips on the search for one’s own status symbols online and offline, and she reveals that in her background she shows “the status symbol of the intellectuals par excellence”.

More: Part 1 of Handelsblatt Rethink Work: “Mr. von Hoensbroech, what can executives learn from an orchestra?”

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