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4 min.

Leadership | Leading employees at a distance

Long leash - leading at a distance

From Sabine Walter, Head of netzwerk managementberatung | coaching

Mobile working has become an integral part of our working world. In order to be attractive to employees as an employer, the flexibility to better reconcile work and private life is a must. But there are companies that, after initial generosity with regard to working hours and work location, restrict mobile working again. One reason for this is the fear of many managers of losing control. In this article, we give tips on how you can lead remotely in a way that maintains results- and goal-oriented work.

Long leash - employee management at a distance

Success factors for mobile working

This illustrates that mobile working is not just a matter of equipping employees with mobile phones and laptops. Besides the Data protection, infrastructural and labour law aspects mobile working requires above all a change in the culture of trust and leadership.

A study by the Institute of German Business in Cologne also proves that managers in particular can make a decisive contribution to creating family-friendly working conditions. And, according to the study, managers can also relieve their employees of the worry of suffering disadvantages through too much home office.

What specifically can leaders do?

Give confidence

Many managers' fear of losing control shows that they have no or too little trust in their employees. The idea that attendance equals motivation equals productivity is a fallacy.

If employees use mobile working to increase their free time account, something is fundamentally wrong. The following questions will help you to assess the situation in your team:

  • Are my employees deployed according to their strengths and talents?
  • Do they see a sense in their activity?
  • Do they identify with the task?
  • Do you burn for what you do?
  • Are the goals that my employees have clearly defined? Were they able to participate in defining the goals?
  • Do we have a team climate that is characterised by trust, willingness to take responsibility and commitment?
  • Do I have a good relationship of trust with my staff?

If your answer to many of these questions is "no" or "hardly at all", there must be a different kind of leadership before mobile working can work without fear of losing control.

Create clear framework conditions

The author of the IW study, Andrea Hammermann, recommends clear agreements to make mobile working work. These include Rules on accessibility and the Clear communication of "which company guidelines apply to mobile working". Company framework regulations provide orientation as to who is allowed to work on the move and under what conditions, and create transparency and commitment".

Result-oriented leadership - working independently

Another success factor of mobile and independent working is that the Goals of the department, team and employee are clearly and, if possible, measurably defined.

It is also important that employees have a decisive influence on their goals and are fully behind them.

Regular communication, 1-on-1 and in the team

Regular communication creates transparency. Transparency helps to build trust. For this reason, it is particularly important with mobile working that communication platforms such as a jour fixe or regular 1-on-1s are established and take place.

  • How can we maintain trust in the team even if we don't all see each other every day?
  • How do we ensure communication within the team?
  • How do we maintain knowledge sharing within the team?
  • How do I get a regular update from my staff on target achievement?

You should answer these questions at least for yourself and in the team in order to ensure good communication among each other even when working on the move.

Conclusion: The introduction of mobile working requires targeted preparation

Mobile working allows everyone to better balance work and private life. This form of work is a must for all companies that want to be attractive as employers. However, there are a few things that need to be taken into account in preparation. Besides the Data protection, infrastructural and labour law aspects works Leadership at a distance and mobile working then good, if:

  • managers trust their employees,
  • Targets and results are clearly defined and regularly reviewed
  • Fixed team times are defined for communication and knowledge exchange
  • and employees work in an environment that promotes intrinsic motivation

Only when employees put their hearts and minds into their work will they give their all - whether in the office, at home or on the road.

Regardless of what else companies come up with to be an attractive employer - laptop, mobile phone, sports and massage offers & Co. will never replace trust, appreciation and meaningful work. Employers should invest in these things if they want to stay ahead in the competition for talent.

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