Home Office - Part I: Tips for employers
by Ilka Truelsen
The Corona pandemic challenges employers in multiple ways. One of them is the switch to working from home. The Home Office concept is not at all new as many companies are already using this spatially and temporally flexible work model on a smaller scale. However, thanks to Corona, working from home has now become the new standard, a change that is far from easy. Nevertheless, every challenge also holds a chance. If successfully implemented, employers and employees alike can benefit from this flexible work model. Let us tell you what you, as an employer, need to bear in mind when converting to home-based work!
A basic requirement for your employees to be just as efficient at home office as they are at on-site offices technical equipment. In terms of hardware, mobile solutions are on demand: smartphones have replaced stationary telephones; laptops are a good substitute for PC’s. In this new modality, laptops have been supplemented by screens and touch screens to facilitate work. Headsets and webcams are also part of the basic equipment for home office employees.
Once physically equipped, the next step is to make the hardware usable for employees from the home network. In this regard, especially the security of flexible company data must be guaranteed. The installation of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as well as selected anti-virus programs are for sure of great help!
Digitalization of work processes
The spatial and temporal flexibility of home office employees also makes it necessary to digitalize basic work and organizational processes. Be it the submission of a vacation request or the coordination of tasks within the team: the home office model requires an increased technical know-how by the employees; especially when introducing new programs and digital tools, for example for internal communication purposes, it is therefore helpful to offer special training for home office employees.
After all, work processes can only be handled efficiently if all employees are familiar with the applications and dispose of any hard and soft skills required for their use.
Frequently, employees in home office feel less connected to the company and their colleagues. Intensive internal communication is the key for counteracting the diminishing feeling of belonging in the home office, this applies to both communication exchange among employees and the interaction between employee and supervisor.
Regular video conferences are a helpful tool in this regard. Face-to-face communication shows the employees that you have not forgotten about them while working from home, but that you continue to make time for them. Whether before or after discussing work-related topics, there should also be room for a small talk. This has a positive effect on employee motivation, strengthens their sense of belonging and finally, increases productivity.
The right balance between clear rules and trust
In order to make home office to work efficiently, it is underlying to clearly state working hours, availability and task distribution. Fixed regulations help employees to structure their daily work from home as well as to keep an eye on previously agreed objectives.
Objectives should be clear and should not exceed the employee’s capacity to achieve them. Instead of overwhelming your employees with instructions, it is important to rather set the scenario in which the employees would be able to organize their everyday work. As an employer, you are asked to trust your employees and avoid checking upon them every five minutes for a basic level of flexibility boosts productivity, excessive control can damage the work climate and demotivate employees.
Leadership style: Content-related instead of working-time oriented
In order to find the right balance between trust and control as an employer, the home office model requires above all a rethinking of the management philosophy. In particular, this involves moving away from the idea of measuring productivity through an employee's working hours. Anyway, the exact working time can hardly be checked in the flexible work model.
Instead of time-oriented target agreements, when working from home it is much more important to set content-related objectives. That way, the results of the work performed - which can easily be checked on a regular basis - are primarily decisive for the productivity of an employee.
As an employer, what is your position towards home office? What are the challenges that you have already faced in this context? If you are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us by e-mail or via our website. As a recruiting and headhunting specialist and personnel consultant, Acensblue is happy to help you find the right personnel for your company.