Managers, the main obstacles to the adoption of teleworking
What if the resistance to change is hidden, not among your employees, but in the ranks of your managers?
As a source of dilution of their power of influence and control or as a new use that managers have to assimilate quickly, telework has a bad press for managers.
I mean, that was before... The Covid crisis has made us (re)discover the benefits of distancing ourselves, starting with saving the business. The next step will be to propel managers into a transformative and less directive role.
This dynamic will not be easy to pursue, especially in a country still clinging to the concept of presence. To achieve this, trust and feedback will be more important than ever.
Prejudices that are still tenacious
"When the cat's away the mice dance."
It's well known to some diehards, teleworking generates a lot of suspicion: what are the teams doing behind their screens? Do they dare to take too much advantage of the situation and do as little as possible? Not to mention the fact that teleworking is synonymous with reduced productivity. Numerous studies have demonstrated its preconceived notions, but nothing has been done about it.
It's not easy to change mentalities, especially in a country like France, where face-to-face meetings have always been proof of employees' commitment. For example, working overtime and staying late is a reflection of professionalism, determination and tenacity. In the United States, on the other hand, such behaviour is perceived as a reflection of poor organisation and low productivity.
The crisis or revolution of the contract of confidence
The crisis has shaken the trust relationship as well as the way managers look at teleworking: 78% of the respondents to the Bodet Software survey believe that teleworking will be more common in their company in the future.
However, the appetite for regular telework varies according to gender, age or function. The APEC study found that fewer managers (63%) than others (77%) wanted to telework each week after the crisis.
More managers report having encountered difficulties in implementing telework, increasing from 18% at the end of 2018 to 40% at the end of 2020 (+22 points)", according to a recent study by Malakoff Humanis.
Among the major difficulties encountered during the health crisis in 2020 are above all the evolution of managerial postures in the company (33%) and "maintaining collective links to avoid isolation and maintain team spirit (31%)".
New issues to be assimilated and tamed
Lack of trust, suspicion, difficulty in maintaining the link and cohesion... According to a Malakoff Humanis survey in February, only half of the managers surveyed were in favour of teleworking at the end of 2020. For comparison, they were 55% at the end of 2018. More worryingly, a quarter of them now declare themselves unfavourable to telework (compared to 18% in 2019). However, this view is far from being shared by their bosses or teams, with 33% and 14% respectively being against the idea of teleworking in the future.
Bodet Software, in its survey, notes that with the widespread practice of teleworking, new issues have emerged, such as remote management (38%) and monitoring of employee time and workloads (36% ). In addition, 77% of respondents identified isolation as the main risk associated with teleworking. This is well ahead of blurring - or the disappearance of the private/work life boundary (46%), exaeco with the increasing complexity of teamwork. Faced with this new paradigm, "some managers have played the game, organising new sociability rituals, coupled with daily and individual points with more fragile people".
Thepreservation of mental health is another major issue highlighted by the pandemic. Malakoff Humanis noted that 43% of managers had "difficulty in managing the fragility of certain employees".
An empathy that should be pursued. Encouragingly, more than half of the managers surveyed (55%) claim to have made their teams aware of the use and good practices of collaborative tools (slack & co) at a time of widespread teleworking.
Increased responsibility demanded by employees themselves
With the crisis, telework has become aspirational, in the sense that it finally allows the employee to regain power over the time and space related to his or her work. Among the main motivations mentioned by employees: the reduction of travel time (51%) and the possibility of working "quietly" (47%), according to an APEC study published last December. In addition, for 32% of them, the possibility of dealing with unforeseen events (medical appointments, shopping, etc.) and the possibility of adjusting working hours (31%). Voluntary teleworking outside crisis periods - and at the discretion of the manager - is becoming a decisive prerequisite in attracting talent. The possibility of teleworking is, along with salaries, "an important criterion for 69% of managers in choosing a company". This practice is particularly popular among women (72%), people living in the Paris region (73%) and those under 30 (76%).
Similarly, there is a growing desire to move further away from the face-to-face setting: From 1 day/week before the crisis, employees who have experienced the situation positively, now require 2 to 3 days of teleworking per week. On the other hand, as reported in the APEC study at the end of December, most of them, aware of the risks inherent to intensive practice (isolation, burn out...), want a hybrid model.
As a manager, it is up to you not to turn a deaf ear to this need, for some employees, to give meaning to their actions and to regain control over their lives . As each individual has his or her own needs (objectives, frameworks, rules...), it is important to identify volunteers interested in continuing telework after the crisis. For this, nothing better than privileged moments to collect feedback (monthly points, questionnaires, surveys...).
Rules and methods for smooth implementation
While for 86% of employees, the implementation of teleworking was quick and quickly operational, it generated additional work for 51% of managers, according to the Bodet Software 2021 survey. Moreover, the APEC study shows that 88% of managers think that teleworking requires a review of managerial practices.
By intruding into the private lives of employees right up to their homes, some managers mistakenly thought that technology could be used to support widespread coping. A thought that had disastrous results on employee commitment and morale. On the contrary, it is up to managers to set an example and not push their teams to overwork, a phenomenon accentuated by digital technology.
Another discovery, this time from a study by the management and occupational health chair at IAE Grenoble, employees "suffer not from the excesses or omnipresence of management but rather, conversely, from its absence". Let's be clear, to be successful, telework implies the ability of managers to provide regular feedback and trust their employees. This is what emerges from the APEC study. This does not prevent the setting of rules of the game (37%) and the definition of indicators for monitoring the activity (25%). Hence the idea of equipping oneself with management tools such as the solution proposed by Elevo.
But having the telework or remote management reflex cannot be improvised: a virtuous transmission of knowledge must be put in place. Indeed, as the work of the IAE in Grenoble has shown, teleworking "raises training needs", particularly concerning "good practices ". A stronger trend among HR managers and managers than among employees, at 74%, 68% and 62% respectively. The authors of the study mention among the avenues of resilience a shift of managers towards the role of "coach", "team leader" or "work supervisor".