How are management styles changing for the work at home environment?
By Michelle Coetzee, Public Relations
Remote working or telecommuting, as some refer to it, has changed the face of challenges our leaders deal with in the day-to-day work environment. Interestingly, over 50% of employees have been working from home, at least part time, since before the epidemic. Due to circumstances, this figure has risen to an estimated 70%.
Many studies have shown that employees working from home increased productivity by over 20%, including fewer sick days and breaks; however, a scary 37% battle to work in a home environment and would prefer to go back to the office.
Contrary to the research, managers have said they are hosting at least double the number of virtual meetings to keep staff on track. Supervisors are faced with a feeling of uncertainty as to why tasks are frequently taking much longer. It has been a constant battle for some team leaders to keep staff motivated. It has also been difficult to identify where a staff member has additional capacity to give additional tasks, since you cannot physically see when hands are idle.
ERS Biometrics, with its Head Office in Centurion, South Africa, took up the challenge earlier this year to evaluate some of its own staff members and team leaders, together with external companies to find ways forward in overcoming the challenges our management and employees are facing in the workplace.
I took a virtual interview with ERS Biometrics to see the results of the tests they had conducted and also the solutions. The results were quite astounding.
“It is essential that management take control of the employees’ psychological health as well as ensuring that employees are doing what they are paid to do. One of the reasons that working from home becomes stressed is because we lose track of time and so do not take breaks,” said Delmé Hawkins, Director at ERS Biometrics. “Managers would like to ensure that staff are using time effectively and healthily. We have extended our trusted time management software to a new product called ERS Watchdog, where we have seen that the use of technology in the home office can remind individuals that it is okay to get away from the desk at intervals and, in fact, this improves productivity."
We have seen a lot of information recently guiding people into creating a productive workplace at home, but I wonder how managers are coping with ensuring that staff are genuinely working. It would seem that new changes have not only taken shape among employees, but also managers and employers. I asked the CEO of ERS Biometrics his thoughts.
“Our software program, ERS Watchdog, has been flying off the shelves over the last few weeks and it is not surprising really,” said Henk Potgieter, CEO at ERS Biometrics. “Not only is the software fantastic for individual time management, but also, team leaders are able to see exactly where time has been spent. Reports can be printed outlining if each member has been productive or not and can even see which programs have been used and for what duration each day."
I decided to dabble a little in the software and give it a shot. The program was extremely easy to set up, which is great because I am not an IT whiz. I put some settings in place, for instance, time spent on Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft Word and so on, defining productive and unproductive time.
The outcome – caught out! My report showed way too much time on Facebook. Even for marketing purposes, this was extreme.
On a plus point, I also noticed that I needed to be away from my desk more often. Taking a break on Facebook is not the same as leaving your desk for a few minutes to rejuvenate your mind. I have started changing my habits a little and have seen incredible results.
In conclusion, perhaps it is a little optimistic to feel that even the most dedicated staff member is able to conduct healthy work habits at home, so any tools to assist both management and staff are clearly essential in today’s working environment.