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Home office: Employees lose performance thoughts, warns psychologist

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Since March 2020 at the latest, companies have had to deal with how to cope with the corona pandemic. It quickly became clear: Many people in an office are not compatible with the measures taken to contain the virus. Thus, a kind of time lapse was placed over the working world. Digitization was given top priority and employees should work from home wherever possible.

A new situation, not only for employees but also for employers. Business psychologist Winfried Neun asked executives how their conclusion is after around nine months in the new world of work. It became clear: For both sides, employees and employers, the step was a significant change. “In the current situation, relocating many professional activities to the home office is basically a good and right decision – just like the state aid for troubled companies,” says business psychologist Winfried Neun in an interview with NewsABC.net. “However, there are a few points that make executives concerned about this.”

One point is the employee’s performance concept, which takes a back seat in everyday life, also due to Corona. This specifically does not mean that employees do not want to do their work, but the priorities are shifted – almost understandably. If the children cannot go to daycare or school, they too must be supervised. Many employees have to go to their limits because of the overall situation, but the work is still done, but differently than in an office. “The performance principle is attacked, but that does not mean that the employees in the home office are not doing enough. Rather, employees and employers have to relearn how work works within their own four walls, ”says business psychologist Neun.

Employees want to be particularly convincing in the home office

The head plays an important role in this. Because of the situation described, employees who work in the home office definitely want to attract attention in their job and sometimes even burden themselves with too many tasks. “The employees put a lot of pressure on themselves because they feel they have to prove that they are productive in the home office too. This means that there is a risk that a lot of work will be done quickly rather than properly and not with the necessary enthusiasm. ”This creates a lose-lose-lose situation: Employees suffer from additional stress, the tasks are not created to satisfaction, which ultimately leads to the employer notices negatively. According to Winfried Neun, the goal should therefore be to do fewer tasks, but think economically and be enthusiastic about the matter.

But employers also have to learn the new environment in the home office. They lose sight of their employees, which makes their management role just as difficult as assessing whether an employee is under or overburdened. “If the employee in the office is sitting at a desk with a lot of files, for example, employers sometimes have the feeling that the employee is busy. Managers now have to learn this awareness even when their employees are not visible, ”explains Winfried Neun.

Apart from the workforce, there is another point with corporate culture that managers criticize in times of home office, because it is difficult to convey at a distance. “For example, if there is a culture of solving problems in a team, it is not the same whether the employees are sitting in one room or are connected via video conference. There are too many disruptive factors that make a result unsatisfactory in this way ”, Winfried Neun explains the point of the managers. Employees who are new to the company also find it difficult to get to know the corporate culture. As a comparison, Winfried Neun cites branches abroad: Even there, because of the distance, it is always difficult to integrate the corporate culture of a company’s headquarters.

Some managers have overslept digitization

Despite digitization, it is difficult to manage different locations. The topic becomes even more complicated with every employee in the home office. It is a great advantage that many companies have found solutions for mobile working so quickly – but some are overwhelmed by them or see other problems associated with them. “Many employers complain because their IT staff have to take care of the company’s communication with the employees in the home office and this changeover requires budgets that were planned elsewhere,” says business psychologist Winfried Neun. “However, they are partly to blame for this development because they have not taken care of the issue in the past few years.” If things are going well in a company, there is often a lack of pressure and the courage to change, or as Neun puts it: ” Employers become mentally comfortable. “

Neun also relates that changes require a certain amount of suffering to the overall business of a company. The aid from the state is appropriate, but it also creates many zombie companies that are a threat to the entire business world. This means companies that only stay in the market because they can refinance themselves with cheap money. Nevertheless, at a certain point they can no longer pay bills, bundle employees who could better use their labor in productive companies and have a say in the prices for products in their branch. “Now these companies still receive direct aid from the state, which brings them even more money and means even less pressure to change. But no company changes without suffering. ”

And security from the state leads to another development: Young professionals are increasingly looking for a way out of the private sector and into the public service. This is shown by a survey conducted by the consulting company EY among 2000 students in December. Accordingly, 26 percent of university graduates want to work in the public sector. Only twelve percent want to go into the auto industry, six percent into banks and four percent into insurance.

In times of crisis, security comes first when looking for a job

Oliver Simon, Head of Human Resources at EY in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, emphasizes in a company press release that students in the public sector expect a secure job, attractive working hours and often a good work-life balance. Although other industries are generally considered to be much more attractive, “security comes first when looking for a job, especially in times of crisis. Therefore, students should rather rationally choose their employer during the Corona crisis. “

The private sector cannot offer this security. Promotions and higher salaries always go hand in hand with the risk of an economic crisis, often irregular working hours and overtime. “The performance principle has to be repackaged,” demands business psychologist Winfried Neun. “The personal development of the employees must be given greater focus so that employees have the feeling: ‘I can learn a lot here and even if I no longer work here, I can quickly find a new job with my skills’”. Appropriate further training, without calculating whether the effort is financially worthwhile for the employer, would be an important first step.

The changes affect everyone and not just, as one might think, managers from older generations. Startups also suffer from helplessness because many investors prefer to hold back their funds and wait for safer times. “We see negative selfishness in many areas. Many companies isolate themselves and concentrate on themselves. But you can only get out of the crisis together, which is why it is the wrong way to end partnerships now for short-term reasons, for example, ”says Neun.

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