Since corona, home offices and remote working have become an involuntary reality for many companies and could soon even become normality. Dr. Monika V. Kronbügel (PhD.), CEO of Global DiVision, forecasts that in five years’ time at the latest companies that are not offering working from home as a standard will have difficulties finding employees.
As is so often the case, managers are key to the success of such working practices. Many of them, however, experience extreme anxiety in this context, worrying that they will lose the overview of employees’ activities if they work from home. It can help to remind ourselves that fear of losing control is totally normal. Talking to managers who have experience with home offices or decision-makers who are in a similar situation is thus highly recommended. Communicate openly with your team, telling them that this is a new situation for you but that you are also looking forward to this new form of cooperation.
Establishing a new culture of cooperation that is taken seriously by company management is crucial to the success of such ventures. This means that managers must become less involved in operational business in order to better fulfil their roles.
A team code of conduct or guidelines for working from home can help standardize expectations regarding how long it takes to complete what task because this is something that can deviate significantly from one employee to another. It must also be clarified whether work can be carried out independently of location or time. Is it ok to go to the store in the afternoon when it is less busy and then work on a presentation in the evening or is it important for the team that everyone is online at the same time?
Weekly video calls by managers with individual team members and team calls are a must and can help to stop managers feeling that they have lost control. In addition to work meetings, social get-togethers such as virtual celebrations when new employees join the company or existing employees leave or have a birthday are important to foster team spirit. And, with the required sensitivity, conflict situations can also be resolved virtually.
Last but not least, you should give your employees time to adjust to the new situation, offering them help and support to do so. As a matter of principle it is advantageous to always develop structures and processes in advance, regardless of whether working from home is planned to be temporary or become a permanent practice.