The per­sonal touch is es­sen­tial to help your new starters feel at home

Straight-talking, com­mon sense from the front line of man­age­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - SIR JOHN TIMPSON Sir John Timpson is chair­man of the high street ser­vices provider, Timpson. Send him an email at askjohn@tele­

QAs one of the firms for­tu­nate enough to be hir­ing in­stead of cut­ting jobs, we’ve got two new starters join­ing us in a few weeks’ time. The only is­sue is that we’re still all work­ing from home. How do we ef­fec­tively wel­come them on board?

AYou have raised a big prob­lem that is about to be par­tic­u­larly per­ti­nent. The de­vel­op­ment and man­age­ment of re­mote teams that are work­ing from home will be a hot topic over the next few years. There will be no short­age of we­bi­nars and HR con­sul­tan­cies keen to pro­vide a tai­lor-made so­lu­tion.

But the ex­perts will only tell you what you al­ready know: when you man­age col­leagues who work from home, there’s no sub­sti­tute for face-to-face con­tact. To be an ef­fec­tive line man­ager, it’s im­por­tant to get to know your new col­leagues re­ally well dur­ing their first few weeks. You might not have an of­fice but I’m sure you can find a venue where the two new starters can be given their in­duc­tion train­ing.

You might have to in­tro­duce them to other mem­bers of the team via Zoom but, as their boss, you need to es­tab­lish a bond of mu­tual trust and re­spect which can only be done by spend­ing time to­gether.

The world of work is go­ing through a mas­sive change. A few days ago, I met a call cen­tre team who through­out the pan­demic have all been tak­ing calls at home. I dis­cov­ered that most no longer want to be based in their of­fice and per­haps as many as 80pc will pre­fer to work from home per­ma­nently.

Some of the so­cial dis­tanc­ing po­lice are stretch­ing guide­lines to the limit and putting a high per­cent­age of our of­fice space out of bounds.

Covid-com­pli­ant of­fice lay­outs can shut down more than 75pc of the work­ing sta­tions, cre­ate a som­bre at­mos­phere and force the ma­jor­ity of col­leagues to work from home.

If these new lay­outs be­come a per­ma­nent fix­ture, they will threaten the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of most of­fice build­ings and de­crease the value of a sig­nif­i­cant slice of the com­mer­cial prop­erty mar­ket. The pan­demic is caus­ing many more ma­jor changes than we orig­i­nally an­tic­i­pated. The over­whelm­ing vote in favour of home work­ing is based on some ma­jor per­sonal ben­e­fits: no com­mut­ing, more fam­ily con­tact and a bet­ter work-life bal­ance.

But it isn’t as easy for a su­per­vi­sor to man­age a dis­tant team. There are times when work­ers need the moral sup­port of their col­leagues – some­thing that can’t be de­liv­ered through a vir­tual chan­nel.

A boss can find it dif­fi­cult to be a proper boss if the only con­tact is on­line or is re­stricted to tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions. As one ex­plained to me: “When­ever a team mem­ber needs help, it’s my job to put an arm around their shoul­der. You can’t give a re­as­sur­ing hug on Zoom.”

With work­ing from home be­com­ing the new nor­mal, com­pa­nies are now de­vel­op­ing a sup­port net­work that pro­vides reg­u­lar per­sonal con­tact, keeps the com­pany cul­ture and recog­nises the im­por­tance of an in­di­vid­ual be­ing part of a team.

Team meet­ings, so­cial events, joint train­ing ses­sions and spe­cial award pre­sen­ta­tions will all play an im­por­tant part in help­ing col­leagues to feel part of a vi­brant com­mu­nity.

Some of these ac­tiv­i­ties, such as the weekly news­let­ter and monthly quiz, can take place on­line but per­sonal con­tact will have a vi­tal part to play in turn­ing this new type of vir­tual busi­ness into a hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has en­abled us to de­velop a new way of work­ing but the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent of suc­cess will still be the col­leagues. Whether they are work­ing at home or in the of­fice, staff need the sup­port of a peo­ple-fo­cused boss who clears ob­sta­cles out of the way and helps them to solve both their busi­ness and per­sonal prob­lems. Lots of or­gan­i­sa­tions have dis­cov­ered that home work­ing works well but it will work even bet­ter when col­leagues have a strong at­tach­ment to the com­pany for whom they work.

Help your new starters build that at­tach­ment through plenty of per­sonal face-to-face con­tact.

With the trend to­wards home work­ing ac­cel­er­at­ing, firms must reach out to new starters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.