Working in a home office is more popular than ever before due to the current situation. In order to do this right some restructuring is necessary.
I myself have been working as a self-employed person from home for more than ten years. Therefore I can say that I have a lot of experience in terms of “home office” or “working from home”.
Two weeks ago, I gave a webinar on this topic. In the webinar “Focus and Fun in your Home Office“, I talked with the participants about the advantages and disadvantages of working from home.
With this blog post, I would like to support companies that are facing the challenge of leading teams from a home office for the first time. Large companies that have already digitalized work processes had already started to outsource work before the crisis and let their employees work remotely. For small- and medium-sized companies, working from home is often still uncharted territory for employees, and is fraught with many reservations, expectations and fears. It requires a restructuring and reorientation of many companies.
At the same time, however, I would like to encourage employees who are now at the beginning of a completely new way of working to see working from home as an opportunity for greater freedom and flexibility.
Let’s take a closer look together at the following issues relating to the home office:
- What are the major challenges associated with working remotely?
- What conditions should the workplace in your own home meet?
- How do you deal with distractions?
- How do you structure yourself most effectively in the home office?
- How can we replace the physical interaction between colleagues?
- Will remote work only remain as a phenomenon in times of corona or will the working world shift in this direction?
- Which factors are necessary for a successful restructuring of your company?
Is your home the ideal workplace of the future?
In the current situation, many people think that the workplace within their own four walls is the cure-all. Cost savings at companies and free-time management on the employee side are powerful arguments for this. But what conditions must be given to make working in “Utopia” a reality?
In my opinion, there are two parties here who have to ensure that the home-office workplace can be successfully implemented. It requires restructuring on both sides.
- The company
The company is responsible for creating the best possible workplace in the employee’s home and for creating the basic conditions for digital working. The digital connection must be 100% and the hardware and software must be up-to-date. The external conditions must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. An ergonomic desk and desk chair must not be missing.
- The employees
Employees must organise and structure themselves. They must be aware that their company workplace has now been moved inside their own four walls. This means for them that: They are responsible for keeping their workplace safe and clean. There should be no toys from their son lying around that could be distracting. Documents must be arranged and traceable just as if they were sitting at a desk in the company.
A workplace at home requires more structure and mental support from the company than the traditional office workplace.
What are the challenges of working in a home office?
In my first webinar, I created a small survey. The results are certainly not representative, but do suggest some challenges.
- A little over a quarter of those surveyed complained that the home office would not be the best place to work.
- Almost 18% of the respondents fear that they would be too distracted in the home office.
- 23% are certain that working from home would be accompanied by a loss of motivation and therefore a loss of productivity.
- Over 30% fear that contact with colleagues would be missing.
These challenges are not only a matter for the employees alone, who are now supposed to work from home; companies must align their corporate strategy to provide mental support to employees via mindset training and coaching.
How do I bring structure into the daily work-routine within my own four walls?
As mentioned above and also clearly mentioned in my interactive webinar, successful working in the home office is dependent on a daily and weekly structure.
It is important that you focus and realize that this time is not a vacation. Get up at a fixed time, create a realistic situation and motivate yourself.
Set intermediate results for each day and week in addition to the goals that your company has set for you.
Add variety to the structure by including periods in which you can relax or prepare your lunch.
In my last blog, I talked specifically about this topic and introduced you to my “Hour of Power”. Have a look again and see if you can use some of this for yourself.
Creating structure is also related to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes out of you yourself. You are responsible for that. Work daily on your mindset and allow yourself to be supported.
Extrinsic motivation is the responsibility of the company, with targets and bonuses that you can achieve. In principle, intrinsic motivation is definitely the more valuable one, because it comes from within and does not wear off over time. How you can best find your passion and thus your intrinsic motivation I will explain to you in one of my next blogs (you can already register here so that you don’t miss any blog posts).
A little trick for intrinsic motivation is to prepare yourself for your working hours by dressing appropriately. An agency manager of an insurance company, for example, prepares himself every morning before work starts as if he wanted to visit a customer.
How do you protect yourself from distractions at home?
A very special challenge for many employees who are new to the idea of working from home is to establish a working structure from the very beginning. It is important to master the balancing act between working and the role of mother or father.
The only thing that helps here is to establish clear rules right from the start:
- Get a fixed routine.
- Let your family members understand that mum or dad does not have time to play at this moment.
- Organize yourself in such a way that you can clearly separate the activities that you carry out in your position as an employee from your role as a family member.
The company can support its team members in the home office, for example by providing time recording programs. This makes productivity transparent for both the company and the employees.
Strengthening group spirit via digital meetings with colleagues — is that possible?
A big challenge for many people is the prevailing feeling of working completely alone. The colleague with whom you had a chat during your lunch break and who has become almost like a friend over time is now sitting as isolated in their home office as you are. And he or she is struggling with the same challenges.
The supposed social isolation can be interrupted by targeted meetings with colleagues. There are many technical possibilities for this.
Meetings and conferences today are conducted, for example, via
- Google Hangouts
- MS Teams
and many other tools possible. A sign that such tools are already being used by many companies and employees can be seen, for example, in the share price of Zoom Inc. which has almost doubled since the onset of the corona crisis.
Another idea is to arrange joint breaks so that the group feeling is maintained and doesn’t get lost. Lunch together can also be combined with a Zoom call to exchange and update each other.
It should be noted here that online meetings require other rules of conduct in addition to the technical component. In a normal meeting, it is very easy to exchange information with a neighbour, but online it can quickly lead to confusion if everyone talks at the same time. Therefore, many tools offer the possibility to engage in both group chats and individual chats to enable you to discuss things collectively whilst talking to a specific individual on the side.
What are the great opportunities of the new working world?
For all of us, letting go of tried-and-tested work structures can unleash enormous potential in companies and also in our own personalities.
Not only are work trips saved; restructuring the world of work generally means
- greater flexibility
- higher levels of creativity
- more time for family
- greater accountability
- less pollution
- new values
The advantages for companies are obvious; remote working means, among other things, cost savings for them via the elimination of office rent. They have the opportunity to react much more flexibly to overtime caused by new projects. Special tasks that do not arise permanently can be outsourced to external specialists.
Employees are not only more flexible in their fields of activity, but they can also work from anywhere in the world. They have the chance to specialize in the field of work they really enjoy. Flexibly deployable specialists are more in demand today than ever before. They can work on numerous different projects with different clients at the same time and thus gain further independence.
Crisis over — was that it with the restructuring?
Even after the crisis, the world will continue to turn. There will be more companies that recognize the positive effects of working in a home office and save entire office complexes.
In the long run, there will be fewer cost-intensive trips to a one-hour meeting somewhere in the world. In the future, decisions will be made in digital conferences. It must also be said quite clearly that there are no digital limits. We are technically so well positioned that there can be global conferences with 1,000 or more participants.
Many companies will also ask themselves the question: How do I deal with the current employer-employee situation? I can well imagine that this traditional working model will be used less and less and that new structures will be established.
In the future, companies will probably outsource more and more, on a project-related and global basis. At the same time, more employees will become freelancers and work on different projects for several companies, sometimes even simultaneously.
This means that “specialists” will become more and more in demand on the job market and for every current employee the question should be asked: What do I want to be a specialist in?” Even the classic time-versus-money model will probably give way to more and more result-based earnings models.
In which direction do you think the working world will develop? What experiences have you already had with working from home? What feelings do you have about the current restructuring?