The pure presence culture seems passé. Because supervisors are seeing their employees less and less in the office. A recent study shows how differently this working reality affects leadership styles. […]
One year later: Corona has changed the way companies work together. While it was considered unthinkable to work independently of time and space a few months ago, a large number of companies have already established fixed home office regulations. They should specify in a binding manner how many days employees should be present in the office and how many days they can do their work from their home desk. Supervisors deal with this interplay in very different ways. This has an impact on your leadership style.
To this end, the recruitment consultancy Hays, in cooperation with the Rheingold Market research Institute, interviewed 750 decision-makers from various industries about their practices in times of hybrid working. The topics: To what extent does remote work complicate the management of employees? Where are the priorities set if the informal chat in the coffee kitchen is no longer necessary? What about employee retention at a distance?
For a full 85 percent of the executives surveyed, personal contact in home office mode is immanently important, 83 percent want to pay even more attention to good team spirit and 69 percent have realized that their instructions were not always clear and unambiguous in the past, which is why they now want to take this point to heart more. Interestingly, 76 percent of the respondents only found out through hybrid work how independently the employees work on goals and results – without constant inquiries and checks “from above”.
“Overall, the respondents realize that managing employees in the home office needs a reliable substance on which they can orient themselves. This includes, for example, maintaining constant contact, motivating employees or integrating new candidates. The latter is a particularly big challenge for everyone,“ says Oliver Kowalski, Managing Director at Hays. But despite all the statements of the managers that they want to orient themselves less to traditional principles in the future, the practical experience seems rather sobering.
The study authors examined what overlaps there were between the answers to individual questions. Three leadership types stood out in particular:
- With 52 percent, the leadership type “performance management” leads the field of respondents. These superiors focus on a narrow limitation with increased motivation and control of the employees. They do not yet seem to fully trust their willingness to perform, but they still demand a lot of flexibility from them, for example in terms of mutual representation.
- The second group, which is significantly smaller at 30 percent, relies on “employee empowerment”. This type is obviously about a compatible interaction of sustainability, efficiency and creativity. They see digitization as an opportunity to use the working time of employees as efficiently as possible with the support of digital tools, in order to give them creative freedom on the other hand.
- A third leadership type (18 percent) would like to change as little as possible about their previous style. He cannot gain anything from the pandemic as a defining moment for change and therefore relies more on long-serving ways of working. This type rejects home office concepts altogether and gives its employees little freedom for more personal responsibility.
*Silvia Hänig is a communications consultant and Managing Director of iKOM in Munich.