Home office and distributed teams are on everyone’s lips and for many it is a dream to be able to work from anywhere and at any time. What sounds like a dream for employees is pure horror for many executives, because the question arises: Will someone still work what?

A typical image in the head of a manager – employees chilling out in the home office

Basically, my experience is that employees who hardly work in the office do hardly anything at home. In contrast, hard-working employees are just as hard-working at home. A current study, which examines almost 30,000 employees has shown that employees in the home office work an average of 4 hours more overtime per week than employees in the office. So the fear that employees will do nothing only seems to exist in the heads of managers?

Control task completion in the home office

Even with great self-organization and trust, there should be a possibility of control. To do this, you first need to neatly break the existing work down into small tasks. You have to prepare the existing work in such a way that it can be processed using methods such as Scrum and Kanban.

Think of it like eating a cake at a party. Nobody will want to bite straight into the cake because the pieces are too big. So you have to cut it into small pieces. Afterwards, guests can take small pieces and eat. As soon as they are hungry again, they eat the next piece. At some point the cake is gone. You then actively distribute the last pieces that nobody wants at the party.

Virtual work is like handing out a cake

In business this means that you divide ideas into projects that consist of different tasks. These are clearly described and can be processed by the employees. You can now visualize this with methods such as Scrum and Kanban. As a manager, you will always see on one board:

  • What tasks are left to be done?
  • What do my employees do?
  • Where are we blocked?
  • What’s done
Kanban board with different columns

You can see an example above. You can see on the board that three tasks are currently free and that your 4 employees are currently actively working on tasks 4-7. As a manager, you could take care of the acceptance of tasks 10-12 or blockers 8-9. As you can see, work is going on and nobody is resting. You should discuss the board with the team using a short daily conference call.

Conclusion

You notice that remote work is not difficult and that the completion of tasks can still be controlled. I have been working as a manager for a virtual team for more than 2 years and have excellent experience with these methods. I am always ready to say what my employees are doing and the transparency is even significantly higher than in on-site teams. The basic requirement is the division and documentation of the work as well as the visualization by a virtual board.

The dream of employees: work where, when and how you want!

Tip: Read my book: SMEs in digital change at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .

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Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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