Leading from the home office

Leading from the home office

Like many other people affected, my team and I have been thrust into this new situation.  At Horton International & Hager Unternehmensberatung, working from home is perfectly acceptable. However, in an industry that works with personal contacts and highly sensitive data, it is not the everyday standard.

This current phase, in which all companies worldwide are affected, is an extraordinary situation for everyone. Horton International is increasingly focusing on communication and trust in our teams.

The health and also the safety of our employees, customers and business partners is a top priority for all of us, which is why we have taken numerous measures to maximize protection and minimize infection. These include additional cleaning and disinfection measures in all offices as well as the standardisation of the home office.

On the IT side, we had already switched over to Microsoft Office 365, using Teams as a communication platform. All employees were given Surface Devices to work on, regardless of their location. The hard work of the IT managers at Hager has really paid off today. In places where other companies were still in the process of converting and testing at short notice, this was already a tried and tested part of everyday life for us. But one challenge is dealing with this new situation from a technical point of view, the other is mastering leadership in a predominantly virtual time.

The most important thing here is regular communication both with your own employees and with clients and candidates. Especially in a time when many people are unsettled by headlines and mood swings, it is all the more important to stay in regular contact. Personally, I try to think positively and to look ahead even in these difficult times.

A home office does not only mean staying in a private environment, but due to the current situation, it even means to experience the whole family intensively as well as being entrusted with school-related topics of the children. Normally, very few managers are at home during the day or are confronted with daily schoolwork. However, at the moment many parents are challenged in the home office to also take care of the school issues of their offspring and to support the so-called homeschooling of their children.

At the moment, it is a balancing act to also provide parental care in addition to the topics that help our company move forward. Binomial formulas and entrepreneurial visions, a special kind of multitasking.

A dash of empathy, a pinch of optimism and a lot of adaptability – that could be a simple recipe.

In these uncertain times, it can be difficult for many employees to find meaning in what they do. As a leader, it’s part of the job to work out a vision for the team. A clear, shared vision that everyone in the team agrees with can be incredibly motivating. It helps all team members to see a sense in the matter and also to find a focus and clarity in their daily work. All of this ultimately helps to maintain people’s mood while ensuring that their attention is focused on positive business outcomes.

Exchange with employees in person – unfortunately, it is not possible at the moment. Nevertheless, exchange is essential to get a feel for the mood in the company and to strengthen the team spirit. Virtual coffee breaks during working hours, joint lunches, cooking together (each in their own kitchen, using the same recipe) – it is important that the feeling of cooperation is or remains strengthened. Rituals and regular team meetings to agree on goals and projects should be a matter of course for every manager in the current phase. Likewise, an open ear for the concerns and also personal problems of the employees.

What is important under normal circumstances should now become even more important: responsibility for the team members. Confidence must be given to the employees in advance: everyone is an expert in their field and is responsible for them independently. When employees need support, they should know that they can always come to terms with their manager.

It is important to actively convey a feeling of “we” to the employees and not to neglect them or to leave them completely to themselves. This motivates everyone and ultimately brings the company forward – we all have a life after the coronavirus.


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