The future of work
Uwe Peter, Managing Director of Cisco in Germany, warns: Anyone who prescribes office presence will create a bad mood and deprive themselves of opportunities in the job market.

Many companies are doing everything they can to order their employees back to the office after the long Corona break. Our comment shows why companies are doing themselves a disservice.?

Recently, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said that his employees are facing disadvantages for their jobs Career would have to be expected if they worked from home too often. They should be in the company offices at least three times a week. At Amazon, employees are also required to spend “most of their time” in the office – at least three days a week, preferably more.

I understand the motivation behind these approaches: To maintain a personal network, being present in the office can generally be helpful. On the other hand, it is also a reality that many employees simply want the greatest possible flexibility from their work Employer to expect – also because they see long commutes as a waste of time.

Skilled workers are rare, so we need solutions to accommodate people, give them career opportunities and at the same time increase productivity. The home office shouldn’t be a career killer! Rather, companies should enable careers regardless of where they work through a culture of trust and the use of modern workplace technologies.

Hybrid work works if you want it to.

Why do I think that? Because we at Cisco have been relying on hybrid work for more than ten years – well before the Corona crisis. Almost all employees Employees have been working from home for a long time, sometimes more, sometimes less often. We have celebrated hundreds of promotions during this time.

Theoretically, this is possible in every company, but what is often missing is trust in people, sometimes also the uncompromising implementation of the necessary technology, including suitable cybersecurity measures.

A study from Germany commissioned by Cisco shows that decision-makers and HR managers in this country agree staff Want to prescribe mandatory days in the office. Others entice people with services such as childcare and fitness rooms so that the offices fill up again. In any case, there is agreement that the offices should not be left empty. There is no consensus in the German executive suites as to which path should lead to the goal.

In international comparison, Germans are management particularly suspicious. A global survey by MIT Sloan Management Review (SMR) from last year shows: More than 70 percent of managers at the C-level and below believe that their employees do a good job when working from home. Overall, more than 90 percent say that remote work has a positive effect on their corporate culture. Incidentally, cooperation there is no worse than in Germany.

3 myths of Office Presence.

So the question is: Why are German managers so confident about their staff’s office presence? In my opinion, this is due to three fundamental misperceptions in this country:

Some tasks can only be done well in the company office.

The assumption that brainstorming sessions, creative work, and staff discussions only work in physical presence is persistent. There are hundreds of digital tools, including mind mapping, scrum boards, or video conferencing systems, that work just as well or better. They force discipline in meetings, and new tools such as Deep Democracy create unprecedented scope. This method is about bringing each person into the group process with their values, beliefs, and emotions. Creativity does not require sitting together in one room.

Managers are more accessible to their team in the company office.

Any good leader will attest to the importance of an “open door and quick answers.” For both, the digital space is often more practical than an office at the end of the hallway where everyone can see who is with the boss. The possibility of starting a conversation with the manager via a chat and then switching to a video conference ad hoc depending on the situation offers an excellent opportunity for personnel discussions with a low entry threshold. You don’t create presence by being in the office, but by prioritizing times for the team – whether physical or digital.

Networks are created in the coffee kitchen, not in the chat room.

Many employees and managers can agree on this thesis; at first, it seems obvious. Informal one-on-one conversations create the context that leads to trust and, in business, better decisions. But the fact is that informal exchange can also take place in digital life. Anyone who has a good relationship with colleagues who, for various reasons, cannot or does not want to be in the office very often knows this.

However, the prerequisite is that routines are made possible within the team that promote social exchange and ensure a kind of ‘equal treatment’. We use a tool (not from Cisco) that allows employees and bosses to informally exchange ideas once a week about what they enjoyed last week and what they plan to do in the coming week. We call this the ‘weekly check-in’. Digitally, this is a matter of 15 minutes per employee. Let’s be honest: who can remember having a conversation like this with their boss in the company office once a week?

In my opinion, home office does not affect the work of a manager. However, it creates flexibility and trust, which strengthens the loyalty of employees and managers to the company and greatly increases its attractiveness as an employer.

Not encouraging home offices is a wrong decision.

    Today, hybrid work is a key competitive advantage in the fight for the best talent – for this reason, no company should do without it. Hybrid work expands the geographical radius in which staff can be hired. The company has a much larger and more diverse pool of talent available to it. The increase in diversity in the workforce alone increases the ability to innovate.

    Companies should simply accept that generous hybrid work is expected today. It also offers a clear competitive advantage in the fight for the best talent. However, when companies punish people who prefer to work from home with a career break, they are also doing themselves a disservice. Then their top talent will leave instead of building the next generation of their leaders.

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