Home office – efficiency and isolation
In January 2020, the first company sent large parts of its workforce into the home office. At the time, no one probably thought that a year later, the workplace within one’s own four walls would have become part of everyday life.
Economist Anne Burmeister from the University of Rotterdam wanted to know what employees experience in the home office. Do you find yourself in it?
For most employees, working from home full-time primarily means a lack of social connection. People are “social work animals.” In work, on the one hand, he seeks affirmation from others, a certain degree of autonomy and opportunities for development. The home office can often fulfill these needs well.
The situation is quite different when it comes to the “we” feeling, i.e. the emotional bond. Here, employees in the home office experience a long dry spell: Sending short chat messages every two to three days is not enough to maintain contact and experience fulfilling closeness. It’s not just team spirit that suffers. Employees lose sight of the big picture. They no longer see their part in the product or service – identification with the company dwindles.
The brief exchange at the coffee machine or during the lunch break normally provides new ideas and is an essential part of a successful workday. In the home office, such spontaneous contacts have to be planned. This is tedious. That’s why many employees limit their communication to the necessary passing on of information.
Does that sound familiar?
In the next section, we’ve compiled practical, simple tips to help strengthen emotional connections with one another. Alone, not lonely: socializing strategies suitable for everyday life.
Both managers and individual employees can promote mutual connectedness. Then the home office does not become a loneliness trap.
How managers promote the “we” feeling
To ensure that calls and conferences also succeed virtually, there are a few points to bear in mind:
- Short daily morning calls ensure a regular flow of information. It also creates a common ritual that binds participants together.
- Meetings should be limited to the necessary number of participants so that each employee has sufficient communication time.
- A clear agenda in terms of time and content prevents important topics from falling by the wayside.
- Each meeting is moderated by a different participant. In addition, another employee notes down the learnings and resolutions and sends them to the other participants.
- Meetings via video chat ensure that participants not only hear familiar voices, but also perceive gestures and facial expressions of colleagues.
- The manager can organize casual gatherings in the virtual space, such as a joint lunch. Here, it is important that the supervisor is only present at certain times.
- A joint online team event can revive a waning sense of “we” and ensure that it is maintained.
How to strengthen the bond with colleagues
Managers play an important role in strengthening team spirit, even in the home office. Nevertheless, each individual employee can do something to counteract the feeling of isolation.
Perfectionism blocks communication. Currently, everyone is struggling with the same challenges. The unreliable Internet connection, difficulties with the conference tool or the lack of an office require improvisational talent and patience. For example, if you forgo an after-work video chat with colleagues because you’re not in an optimally set-up home office, you’re giving up valuable time together and unintentionally isolating yourself. Remember that your colleagues also face such difficulties and lower your expectations accordingly.
You still have questions or need individual advice?
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