The Corona relaxations of the last few weeks have already allowed some workers to return to the office, but the option of working from a home office is still part of everyday life in many companies. This makes it all the more important to address what the distribution of team members means for cooperation. Managers face a completely new challenge while working in a home office, because digital leadership necessarily follows different rules than analogue leadership. Here you can find out how it still works.

1. It is time, Leadership new to rethink

Consultant and coach Beat Fraefel writes in an article by the Swiss cadre organisation SKO that when the team is distributed, it is crucial as a leader to "communicate the meaning and purpose of the team." Managers tend to take on the role of a mentor in the home office, who maintains cohesion, rather than mainly being a coordinator for tasks. Above all, it is important to try out new forms of cooperation and to have the courage to learn together. The personal level between supervisors and employees is also gaining in importance.

2. How you the Control share and the Trust double

Many managers have the strength to recognise important tasks, prioritise them and distribute them accordingly. This is an ability that can be severely impaired if there is a lack of daily personal exchange and thus also a lack of overview.
However, if the supervisor manages to communicate "the big picture" to the employees, not only tasks but "entire responsibilities" can be delegated. It is important to provide answers to the following questions:

  • Why are we here?
  • Why are we needed?
  • Who needs us?
  • How do we know that we are doing a good job?

When employees feel responsible for entire subject areas and recognise the part they play in the company's success, they act more creatively and actively. They work in a goal-oriented and autonomous way. Through this process, they naturally also take on tasks that were originally the responsibility of the supervisor. Both parties have to get used to their new tasks and functions in order to make a functioning workday in the home office possible.

3. Which role personal relationships in the Team play

In the home office, relationships within the team also suffer due to the lack of personal contact. In their new role as mentors, managers should take care to strengthen these relationships. According to Beat Fraefel, this also includes addressing sensitivities and dealing with uncertainties. You can strengthen personal relationships and cooperation by always looking back together:

  • How do we work together?
  • What is going well - what is holding us back - what am I worried about?
  • What could help us to improve cooperation - in our team / with other teams?
  • What commitments and rules do we give ourselves?

4. Structure You the Communication

Communication in the home office is definitely different than in the office: you no longer casually get information about phone calls or conversations between colleagues, no more status reports during the common coffee break, no more door frame conversations.
In order to be able to structure the new communication, it is necessary to have core times when all team members are available and to be willing to experiment with different models.

  • Daily check-ups
  • Short-term coordination
  • Identify mood in the team
  • Strengthen cohesion
  • Weekly check-ups
  • Planning for the coming week
  • Identify problems in work processes and solve them together

The meetings themselves also benefit from a clear structure. Click on this link to find out in more detail how to make your meetings more productive.

  • Designate a responsible person(s)
  • Define a clear goal
  • Provide agenda
  • Short introduction with goal and tactands
  • Log results
  • Define Next Steps
  • Derive tasks with responsibilities

At this point, Traefel also refers to common rules that all participants should follow for effective and fair communication:

  • Allow speakers to finish
  • If necessary, announce own contribution
  • Maintain eye contact (also via camera)
  • Eliminate distractions

5. Conclusion: Through new ways of working create also new requirements

The biggest challenge for managers who have to lead a team in the home office is probably to recognise the new demands on their function. It is less about distributing tasks and controlling performance than about motivating team members to take on more responsibility - responsibility that the manager must relinquish in this case. Trust is the key here.
You should also structure your working methods well and at the same time be prepared to adjust this structure again and again should shortcomings become apparent. Accept the challenge to create a new dimension of trust and cohesion in your team.


Marie Great

The strategy and creative teams at Blaupause are passionate about creating relevant and creative content for our B2B blog. Do you have a topic related to B2B marketing, innovation management, employer branding, etc. that you'd like to learn more about? Bring it on!