The effect of a hybrid way of working on the relationship with your employees
Published on 08/01/2021 in Tech, tips & tricks
The relationship between your employees will change due to a hybrid way of working. For supervisors, thinking people-centric is important. With the right approach, your employees will be energized and perform better. Prof. Verbruggen (KUL) explains.
Many advantages for your employees
Professor Marijke Verbruggen of the Work and Organisation Studies research unit at KU Leuven: “Due to the first corona lockdown, companies have experienced the advantages telework has for their employees. They can coordinate their work and personal lives better, plan and manage their work better, they have to commute less and spend less time in traffic. They also get more autonomy. Therefore they are more motivated, they work more efficiently, they perform better, and they also become more productive.”
So, are there no drawbacks to telework? Prof. Verbruggen: “Yes, there are. With the mandatory fulltime telework during the lockdown, it has become clear that there are employees who no longer see the boundary between work and personal life, become socially isolated and lonely, and miss their colleagues.”
Crucial role for your managers
The success of telework? In addition to the way in which a company reorganizes, the style of managers is also crucial. “Due to COVID-19, they’re now experiencing how challenging it is to steer a team online,” explains Prof. Verbruggen. “The art lies in managing in a different way. The task-oriented aspect remains, but the human-oriented aspect becomes more important. Managers must keep motivating their people so that they maintain the connection with the company.”
“You achieve that even with small things such as creating variety in the daily task package or surprising the team now and then, for example with a telework survival package. It makes a big difference and gives them energy to keep performing. But we must be honest; many managers still don’t know what helps and works. So, it’s best for a company to bring them together to train them and let them learn from each other. There’s nothing better than exchanging experiences and sharing best practices with each other.”
How do you reorganize your company to make telework possible?
Disconnecting: even more important than before
Prof. Verbruggen: “Because employees live and work in the same place with telework, the boundaries between their worktime and personal lives quickly blur. As an employer, it becomes very important to help manage those boundaries. But that’s difficult, because employees have different preferences. There are people who adapt their days to their children and purposely work in the evening. And others close their laptops at 5 pm with no problem until the following workday at 8 am.”
“Companies must clearly agree on what they expect from their employees. For example, that e-mails need not be answered immediately in the evening or during the weekend, but that a text message means it’s very urgent.”
Your managers play a crucial role in the success and efficiency of telework.
Professor Marijke Verbruggen
“A company can also decide to simply shut down the network in the evening, although I'm not a proponent of that, because that affects the flexibility and autonomy that employees get by teleworking. Some employees, for example, want to finish a task the same evening and start on new assignments with a clean slate the next day. For people who can’t do that, the motivation, performance and productivity decrease.”
An online relationship with customers? No problem
And what about customer relations? A study by McKinsey shows that 70% of buyers in companies prefer to meet with suppliers online rather than in person. Prof. Verbruggen: “The expectations of customers are the deciding factor. Are they open to virtual service with the same quality as a personal service? Then I see no problem. Because it’s absolutely not necessary to meet physically for everything. It also depends of course on what the reason for the meeting is. Companies are very clear that an introduction or a follow-up interview, for example, should take place face-to-face in the workplace.”
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