Do my people actually work in the home office?
With the worldwide spread of Covid-19, a time has dawned that will change many things - privately, professionally and socially - forever, whether we like it or not. How the change looks like, however, is up to us..
How do we perceive social contacts, how does it feel to be involuntarily separated from one's family, what value do "the others" have in our lives and how can we work together in the future? Is the physical office a sustainable model?
When people deal with such profound questions, it indicates that something has happened to their previous everyday structure. Because as long as structure works, it is rarely discussed. Only when it is outdated or - as in our current case - disappears does uncertainty begin. Whole teams suddenly have to work from home, and managers are tormented by the question: "Do my people actually work in the home office?
The answer is: the more experienced the employees are in remote work, the more productive you can be. Experience in this context means that you have already developed a structure for yourself that replaces the structure that has been omitted.
And this is exactly where the employer comes into play: Psychologically safe team leadership also includes helping employees to find or replace lost structures. A relatively harmless example of structural loss in organisations is a move. New surroundings, new ways, new togetherness. Less trivial is the influence on the structure, for example, when a manager changes.
In our specific case, organizations can use the freed-up capacity to launch "How to home office" initiatives at team level. For example, all employees receive a book on the topic of home office as a gift. In addition, virtual team workshops can be offered in which colleagues can discuss their new situation, with all its advantages and disadvantages, in order to work out or improve personal routines (everyday structures).
Being pro-active in situations like the one we are experiencing right now has several advantages: The organisation or the managers are relieved of the uncertainty of whether and how the employees work at home, since they are involved in the design of the new routines. The employees are helped out of their lack of structure, which enables them to work productively and at the same time increases the psychological security in the team.
In every crisis there is an opportunity. As an employer, you now have the opportunity to show your employees through action: "We are here for you, we see and understand the challenges you face in your home office, and we have a concrete plan to support you. This is what makes a psychologically safe workplace. The positive effects on motivation and commitment will not be long in coming.