The COVID-19 pandemic caused s significant and rapid shift – not only in the way we live, but also the way we work. Following the instruction from the UK government on 23 March 2020 that “employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home” [i], managers across all sectors now find themselves having to lead homeworking teams – perhaps for the first time.
Whilst working remotely from the office is not a new concept – it’s been used, since the early 1990s, by those in roles such as field sales and IT, using laptops and dial-up modems – homeworking on a large scale has not been ‘the norm’ for most organisations. Around 1.7 million people regularly worked from home in 2019 [ii], which sounds a lot until you realise that represents just 5.1% of the UK workforce. Although flexi-working has been gradually growing in popularity in the past decade, the need for managers to develop the skills required to support large numbers of homeworking staff wasn’t that great. Fast forward, to April 2020, and nearly 50% UK adults in employment were estimated – by the Office for National Statistics – to be working from home: an astonishing tenfold increase, in just over a month!
The result is that managers and employees had to adapt to new ways of working, almost overnight. Thanks to their superhuman efforts, many organisations reported tangible short-term increases in levels of trust, engagement and productivity. But it’s fair to say that it’s not all been rainbows and unicorns.
Many people are reporting that:
- IT connectivity is frustratingly erratic.
- the home environment is highly distracting, especially with young children or pets vying for attention.
- social distancing from family, friends and colleagues is having an adverse effect on morale and well-being.
Unsurprisingly, there’s also a growing sense of disconnect between individuals, their team and the organisation – particularly when managers have adopted an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach or an over-reliance on e-mail.
As all the current indicators are that home working teams are here for the foreseeable future – and beyond – it’s vital that managers develop the skills which are absolutely needed to lead and manage homeworking teams successfully.
This is why Skills Shift has put together a dedicated programme, delivered fully online, to help managers draw on their existing skills, adapt to the ‘new norm’ and drive up performance.
‘Successfully managing homeworking teams’ is designed specifically to help managers not just adapt to short-term needs, but to help make distributed management part of their core skill set – making organisations far more flexible and productive.
It also helps organisations get out of the ‘let’s manage’ trap by making homeworking a core part of how they are run, managed and measured. Managing homeworkers is a skill that’s needed now – and will be needed from this point on.
[i] Cabinet Office (2020) “Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)” https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/883116/Staying_at_home_and_away_from_others__social_distancing_.pdf (accessed 24/03/2020)
[ii] ONS (2020) “Homeworking in the UK Labour Market” available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/homeworkingintheuklabourmarket (accessed 01/05/2020)