Office vs. Homeoffice - How to prevent teams from falling apart?
Corona has messed up the world of work.
Now employees find themselves in new places: some in the home office, some in the office. How can you prevent teams from falling apart? And when you compare Office vs. Homeoffice - When to return and how?
"Are you going to the office again?" This question has been part of everyday life since the corona virus. Due to new hygiene rules, teams have to deal more intensively with the decision: Who works from where and when? Often not all employees can come back to the office or workplace at the same time.
"Are you going to the office again?" This question has been part of everyday life since the coronavirus.
Due to new hygiene rules, teams have to deal more intensively with the decision: Who works from where and when? Often not all employees can come back to the office or workplace at the same time.
What that mean for teamwork and how difficult group dynamics can be prevented? And what effects does the spatial separation of teams have on cooperation?
That can definitely have negative consequences. Spatial barriers arise when discussing tasks. For example, this can lead to employees in the home office doing more solitary tasks, while colleagues in the office work together on larger projects.
The identity of these subgroups then develops more and more through the separation. It can happen that they compete with each other. That is counterproductive.
The more a team disintegrates, the more creativity, motivation, and productivity suffer. In research, we speak of "predetermined breaking points" at which teams break.
This is particularly problematic when a certain place of work is paired with a function or identity. For example, when there are only caretakers or assistants on-site at universities and scientists work from home.
So what criteria should be considered when companies have to decide who can return to work?
There is no such thing as one perfect solution. However, there are various approaches that can contribute to team cohesion: If you proceed in a task-oriented manner, cooperation and collaborative activities take place on-site at the workplace, ideally in large rooms with sufficient distance due to Corona.
On the other hand, employees can do tasks that require a lot of concentration in the home office.
An employee-oriented approach is also conceivable. The preferences of the employees play a role here. For example, how comfortable someone feels at work in the office or how productively someone can work from home.
Last but not least, the criterion of fairness should be taken into account. It should be clear to employees how it is decided who works from home and when. That contributes to acceptance.
Not all hygiene concepts take these criteria into account. How can you prevent employees from being "left behind" in the home office?
We actually know from studies that many see themselves as "professionally isolated" when they work from home permanently. You miss the informal things, the conversations in the kitchen or in the hallway.
Research would, therefore, say that working from home shouldn't be a permanent state of affairs.
A hybrid solution is recommended so that nobody is forgotten and employees can at least occasionally exchange ideas on site.
Accordingly, the rotation should ideally also take place during the Corona period so that all members of a team have time in the office and time in the home office.
What else can the individual or manager do to maintain team spirit?
Of course, communication is even more important when teams work in separate locations. Chat programs allow employees to exchange information informally. But none of this really helps to establish a social exchange.
Superiors, therefore, play a major role. For example, you can suggest that team members have a colleague bring a bouquet of flowers to their birthday parties.
A spontaneous call or a quick check with individual employees can also be helpful. In the end, such initiatives can help develop entirely new relationships.
What about those who feel forgotten?
It is a question of the type of how employees draw attention to themselves. This is easier for some and more difficult for introverts. But the following applies: Networking is also important from the home office. That's why you should make yourself noticeable and be creative: be it by calling a meeting yourself or inviting you to a birthday party via video call.
This can be compared with career development: if you want to develop yourself further and aim for the next step in your career, you also have to show an extra initiative.
Some helpful tips on how to make the office more effective you can find here in the article BEST PRACTICES FOR WORKING FROM HOME - 10 BIGGEST DOS-AND-DON’TS
Who has to intervene when the mood threatens to change?
In larger companies, this is primarily the task of management or personnel development.
You have to get feedback from employees on how work is going in the hybrid model and take countermeasures should it be necessary.
In the case of smaller companies, it tends to come from the teams themselves. One approach here could be to step out of everyday business and, for example, to organize a team meeting in the park out of turn.
The coronavirus makes long-term planning almost impossible. How do teams get something like a "perspective" for the coming months?
One of the main tasks of leadership is managing uncertainties, regardless of whether these are economic uncertainties or a business reorientation.
In times of Corona the question is: When will everything be the same again?
The expectation must be that we will never all work again as we did before Corona. Managers should communicate this and try to adapt their employees to the new normal in small steps.
If the team becomes discouraged, managers should look: What are the sources of optimism?
This can lead to tasks being redistributed. If companies actively reflect on how they can adapt to the new situation, it can even be a huge opportunity.