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Employee management from home office

The attempt to please everyone

Person sitzend vor dem Schreibtisch und kommuniziert mit seinen Kollegen | Lemin
Blog post_employee_management

Changes - whether small or large - always bring conflicts. It is truly rare for all affected people to feel equally met, equally treated or equally satisfied with any change. This applies to both private and professional life. At the professional level, the biggest change in recent years took place in 2020, when the entire working world was suddenly turned upside down. In the wake of the corona pandemic and the first lockdown, nearly all companies, from one-person operations to large corporations, were required to work from their home offices. In addition to the logistical as well as the technical effort, processes, communication methods and much more had to be set up anew and remotely in real time, so to speak. This is not only a major challenge for employees. Since then, companies and their managers have also been faced with new challenges.

Office and home office presence before and after 2020

The fact is that working from home has not just existed since the early 2020s. Even in the pre-Corona era, it was possible for some employees to do their daily work remotely - even if the number of people working from home was dwindling. According to a Eurostat survey, only five percent of employees worked primarily from home, seven percent occasionally and a full 87 percent never.

In the wake of the corona pandemic, these statistics changed abruptly. During the first lockdown, approximately one in four employees worked from home, according to a Mannheim Corona study and a Bitkom survey. This is impressive in that the evaluations included those employees who, due to their work, cannot do any home office work at all - such as hospital staff, restaurant staff, etc.

Home office challenges for companies

To what extent the trend of working remotely will continue remains to be seen. But it is certain that the old status quo will not return. Instead, managers and HR managers in particular will have to continue to adapt to new situations. Cross-industry shortages of skilled workers are already plaguing the entire labor market. Well-trained and motivated employees can now choose which company they want to work for. Persistent dissatisfaction leads to qualified specialists searching quickly for a new job. If emerging frustration remains undetected, the already scarce specialists are lost - with far-reaching negative consequences for the entire company.

Collaboration changes drastically

It would be naïve to think that the daily work routine as well as employee management does not change at all except for the spatial environment. As soon as the work environment shifts and direct contact with the employees is missing, everything changes. In view of the Eurostat survey, it is rather unlikely that sufficient experience has been gained in advance for this work environment. First and foremost, the physical distance between colleagues and HR managers leads to a change in daily collaboration. It is difficult to track work performance and working hours from the home office. Time recording tools do exist, but even with such tools, responsible persons must develop a certain trust in their own employees. In addition, there is the general interpersonal relationship within the team. Daily work in the office brings employees together and creates a certain dynamic in terms of team spirit. At a distance, when each person stays within his or her own four walls, this type of relationship is missing, which in turn affects the existing corporate philosophy. Extroverted personalities in particular, who need lively exchange for an optimal working atmosphere, can develop dissatisfaction and turn away from the team. This is confirmed by a survey conducted by Statista, in which....

54 Percent of all companies surveyed cited more difficult communication,

31 Percent more difficult monitoring options,

but only 19 Percent cited a lack of motivation or productivity...

as a problem in terms of home office.

Problems in Homeoffice @Statista2022

Loneliness: The underestimated problem in the home office

In the recent past, not only in the wake of the corona pandemic, scientific experts have examined the consequences of home office. The holder of the professorship for Human Resource Management and Organization at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, Prof. Dr. Stephan Kaiser, has been dealing with the challenges of the digitalization of working environments from the perspective of organizations and employees for many years. In an interview, he says in this regard:

"For most people, work is a central, meaningful part of their lives. Colleagues are important social reference points.

But when working from home, informal, social contact is difficult and there is a risk of social isolation." Prof. Dr. Stephan Kaiser

So one of the biggest challenges for managers at the moment is to prevent emerging dissatisfaction due to spatial separation of employees and to give all team members a sense of belonging. Questions such as...

  • Are the employees doing well?

  • How is the team mood?

  • Are some people possibly not feeling well?

...are among those that all people responsible for human resources must ask themselves on a regular basis and actively approach employees. Not every person in the team speaks up independently about personal problems. Shy or more introverted people in particular can be more easily lost because of distance.

The consequences: Emerging dissatisfaction, a lack of a sense of belonging, and a negative relationship with the company. Regardless of whether the entrepreneurial goals were achieved at the end of the year or not.

We've put together helpful tips and tricks for your digital team events, for example, in a worksheet.

Tips for employee management in home office

Self-reflection is a perfect place to start in order to manage your employees from the home office in the best possible way. Start with yourself and ask yourself how your previous collaboration with your employees and your previous leadership style was.

  • What are the challenges for you personally in terms of "leading at a distance"?

  • What has characterized you so far?

  • Where do you see room for improvement for yourself?

Then approach your team and ask for feedback from them as well and ask for wishes and needs in order to continue to create a lively corporate culture. You can hold this type of feedback meeting at regular intervals so that you can also address current circumstances and problems. The changeover to the new digital way of working only works together, and with regard to the introverts in the team already mentioned, this is a particularly big lever.

A crucial factor: digital team events

Remote work means that interpersonal conversations in the kitchen, over a coffee or during lunch are no longer possible. However, these can also be organized digitally. A virtual coffee kitchen, a remote lunch date or digital team events have become very important in the corporate world over the past two years, as they also have a positive impact on corporate attractiveness. They show existing employees the appreciation they deserve and create stronger employee loyalty among them. Those who feel comfortable and valued are less likely to consider leaving the company.

But also with regard to the recruitment of new candidates, such regular events can tip the scales in favor of or against a company. A good salary or a coffee flat have long since ceased to be attractive to job applicants. The feel-good factor plays an increasingly important role in the lives of many employees. Team events, including digital ones, are therefore essential for attracting the best qualified employees.

Tip: not every digital event has to be with the leaders. Sometimes it can help to leave employees to themselves to ensure a certain casualness among themselves.

In addition to the virtual coffee kitchen, larger events such as an online quiz night or Slack respectively Teams channels for off-work topics can also provide a sense of belonging. However, it is important to pay attention to a few things when doing so. For example, it is most effective if the camera of the individual team members is turned on during virtual appointments to also allow non-verbal communication and that feedback is collected afterwards in order to be able to design subsequent events even better according to the needs of the employees.

Identifying the uniqueness of each individual with the right solution

However, it does not stop with interpersonal relationships. Business objectives must also be given equal attention, and this includes closely monitoring the skills of all employees and their development within the team, as well as making the best possible use of them. This is difficult to do from a home office, but there are solutions that help to identify and make the best use of the strengths of everyone in the team. For example, Lemin offers a comprehensive personality analysis for all team members individually and in relation to the entire team. This allows problems and challenges to be identified, as well as recommending courses of action. In this way, all employees are equally aligned with the current cultural change, in which each person can contribute his or her individual strengths in the best possible way.

Conclusion: Back to square one or go with the trend?

As we entered the 2020s, work life around the world changed. The trend was already emerging, but it was given a powerful push, forcing companies from one-person operations to corporations to adopt new working models. Only the future will show which models will ultimately prevail. We can assume that hybrid working models will become established, with the help of which employees can decide for themselves when they want to work from the home office, when they come into the office or whether they are connected remotely from a completely different location. Ways and means already exist.

In order to be able to manage employees from a distance in the best possible way, it is important to reflect on oneself and one's management style. A healthy feedback culture within the company is just as important as an individual look at the skills of each individual in order to find out where the knowledge, needs and wishes of the employees lie. Only in this way it is possible to pick up everyone in the team equally. Whether it is possible to please everyone is not certain. But the attempt to do so is a good sign.

Promote and develop your talents from the home office with Lemin


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