So manager, where are the members of your team? If you are like most managers, the answer to this question has a number of different answers. Some of your team members are probably in the office working just down the hall from you. However, other members may be working from home. It turns out that there is a change going on in the workplace right now – those at home workers are being brought back into the office. Is anyone going to have the manager skills in order to be ready for this change?
For the past several years, most companies have been embracing a wide collection of flexible work practices. However, as of late there seems to be a change taking place. The ultimate in flexibility – when an employee works from home all the time, is starting to go away. More and more companies are either ending these work from home programs or at least reducing them. The thinking is that managers want more collaboration from their team members. Managers also want closer contact with customers and more control over their team member’s workday.
This is very clearly a big change for everyone involved. What a manager needs to realize is that their remote workers are used to setting their own work hours as well as how they spend those hours. Note that many at home workers generally start earlier than everyone else or end up working long after everyone else has gone home. When these workers are forced to once again come into today’s open office work environments and put up with set meeting schedules, they can start to push back. This can be an issue for managers because we really don’t have any manager training for how to deal with this.
Telecommuting is a big deal – most companies have some sort of telecommuting program in place. However, the number of workers who perform some or all of their work at home is starting to shrink. The change that a worker has to go through when they switch from working at home to working in an office can be a very big deal. One of the biggest changes that they’ll be facing will be the lack of privacy that will be presented to them in an office environment. Additionally, they will once again have to spend the time required to commute both to and from work.
What Coming Back To The Office Really Means
The irony regarding this change is that studies of people who work at home have shown that they generally are more productive than people who come into an office. The reasons that these changes are happening is because more and more managers are deciding that they want to be able to see their teams on a daily basis. Additionally, there is a hope that by having the whole team working side by side each day there will be office-based conversations that will produce breakthroughs that will more than make up for any losses in productivity.
Formally remote workers will need to deal with a number of changes. These workers are going to have to learn how to deal with the more cramped spaces that they’ll find in an office. They will also have to once again get used to sharing resources like group printers. There can be even bigger changes in store for these workers. Remote workers who have to switch to the office can have their egos bruised. Managers who used to make time for these workers when they visited the office will pay less attention to them. If a manager does take extra time to help a former remote worker transition to the office, the rest of the team will be resentful that the manager has less time for them.
Companies are motivated to bring their remote workers back into the office because they are trying to reinvent the workplace. What firms want to see happen is for there to be creative tension in the office in order to allow workers to challenge each other. If a remote worker is participating via conference call, they may end up being left out of this type of dynamic. The goal is to find a way to promote teamwork at work and the companies want the formally remote workers to become part of these teams.
What All Of This Means For You
The times they are a changing. Managers currently have teams that can be distributed between an office work environment and workers who work from home full time. However, firms are changing how they want things run and so the work-from-home workers are now being asked to come back into the office and start to participate in some team building. This is going to be a big change for both the workers and for their managers.
Companies have started to either end or at least roll-back their work from home programs. The reason that they are doing this is because they want to increase the amount of collaboration that they get out of their team members. Managers also want to have more control over the people who are on their team. Managers need to understand that this change in work location can be a big deal for the formally remote workers and it’s going to take them some time to fully adjust to their new situation. The lack of privacy that these workers will have in the office and the impact of commuting will be a big deal for them. Managers are willing to put up with a small loss in productivity in order to have their team members working side by side and generating conversations that can cause break-through to happen. Former remote workers will need to adjust to the fact that managers will have less time for them now that they are around all of the time. The creative tension that having these remote workers in the office should create will make this change worth it.
Every manager wants to be able to direct and control the members of his or her team. Having them all in an office seems to make doing this easier. Yes, people who work at home can be a great resource for getting things done at night or early in the morning, but bringing them back into the office will once again make them a part of your team. As a manager, you need to realize that this change in work locations is going to be a big deal for them as well as for you. Take the time to make sure that it goes well and you’ll finally have your entire team under your control.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that a manager should permit any work from home from the members of his or her team?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
We are all familiar with the phrase “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. However, is that really true? I think that we all realize that if we make a mistake when we’re meeting someone for the first time, it can do damage to how they view us. The good news is that it is possible to use your manager skills to redeem how they view you. However, as managers we need to realize that fixing this problem is going to take effort, time, and some clever skills on our part.