A crisis such as the one currently affecting Europe and the entire world in the form of the Corona pandemic means serious economic problems on a wide range of levels. B2B as well as B2C companies are facing drastic restrictions. There are material shortages in almost all areas, B2B customers in particular are staying away as they are also having to scale down their own business activities due to falling customer numbers or production restrictions, and more than a few companies have stopped working once and for all. On the customer side, they are suffering from contact bans which, for example, make it impossible or very difficult to inspect products on site. The face-to-face communication that is so important in B2B - in the context of often complex, expensive products - is hardly possible any more in its familiar form.
It is undoubtedly extremely difficult to draw any positive conclusions from all these negative effects. Nevertheless, there are indeed some aspects that can be put forward, considering those for whom the crisis even means a certain economic upswing. Not only have the numbers of remote work and, above all, business activities in the home office increased enormously in 2022, but so has the adoption of digital working in general and, not least, the use of corresponding communication and collaboration tools. In these areas, Germany has been repeatedly accused by various parties over the past few years of significant deficits compared to other EU countries, which will now inevitably be increasingly counteracted by Corona. In the currently almost universally necessary digital collaboration from a distance, agile companies have de facto clear advantages. In this article, you can read about how these advantages are demonstrated, what digital collaboration for teams and customer communication can bring to your company in general, and which tools facilitate the digital realignment for companies.
Agile methods, such as KANBAN, offer many advantages. By breaking up classic hierarchical process structures, flexibility, networking and the continuous questioning of what has been achieved so far, they lead to a multi-layered continuous improvement process that is (at best) noticeable throughout the entire company. Here, the focus is particularly on the significantly increased potential of achieving maximally efficient ways of working as well as an associated increase in customer satisfaction and, not least, more satisfied employees .
Unfortunately - and we don't want to keep this from you - remote work or home office 2022 and agile collaboration in teams as well as agile customer communication do not go well together in principle. By definition, agile teams should work on projects or products together and necessarily across departments. This requirement can be best achieved when participants operate under one roof or in a shared (physical) space. This optimally ensures the possibility of direct communication in corresponding meetings as well as making quick decisions and giving feedback on intermediate statuses. Face-to-face communication in meetings is particularly important for the success of agile collaboration. This is why it is also a central element of the twelve basic principles of the so-called Agile Manifesto. If the team is distributed locally, communication among each other is naturally more complicated and usually takes more time.
All of this does not initially speak for clear advantages of agile companies in the establishment of remote work and home office in 2022. In fact, however, such companies have very good mental and structural prerequisites for the successful implementation of digital work through the adoption of agile working methods and the associated acceptance of new, unfamiliar ways away from the standard. Here, work is already being done largely without the constant control of management, independently and on one's own responsibility. It is precisely this (employee) attitude that is extremely relevant for an optimally expedient digital realignment for companies and remote collaboration.
In addition, such companies usually already use important methodological components and corresponding digital tools that can be decisive for success in remote work and home office 2022. The so-called Kanban Board is one of the key components of the Kanban method for the agile work of the team. It is effectively a whiteboard which, in simple terms, is used to visualize workflows and their progress. This board is at the center of all project or production workflows and can be freely viewed by all participants. Kanban boards today are, of course, generally digital. So, in theory, they offer employees who are not on site the best opportunity to follow the company's workflows in detail and contribute in a targeted manner. Such a central digital organization is indeed also elementary in the context of creating efficient as well as effective digital teamwork and digital customer communication.
If an agile team manages to get a grip on the communication hurdles and makes very good agreements, remote work and home office 2022 not only do not contradict agility - the latter can even promote the success of these working methods. Consequently, the management of an (agile) company should pay increased attention to optimizing the flow of information. Experience has shown that a deficit in this respect contributes immensely to any loss of productivity. All relevant information should be transparent, accessible, and easy to understand for the participants at all times.
The establishment of remote work and home office in 2022 is undoubtedly a challenge for both traditional and agile companies. Many companies fear massive losses in terms of productivity, employee motivation, control and corporate culture. In fact, such concerns are not entirely unfounded. However, if the right conditions are created, the potential disadvantages are not only reduced to zero, but even turned into a positive.
Quite a few managers think that employees are automatically less productive if they do not work visibly at their desks on site in the office. One thing is certain: if expectations and deadlines are not clearly communicated, there is an increased risk that employees in remote work or in the home office will be significantly less productive in 2022 than they would be in the company office. However, if they know exactly which goals they are responsible for in their team, which deadlines have been set for specific tasks, and if they work efficiently with regular, centrally visible status reports on the whiteboard, such negative behavior will certainly not occur. It is still important to strengthen the team spirit and to reward positive results. Consequently, and also due to the freedom of work associated with remote work and home office 2022, productivity will even increase significantly at best.
Many remote and home office employees think that they must always be "visible" in their digital work environment in order to prove that they are really working. They assume that every email must be answered within a few minutes or every chat must be answered immediately. The resulting pressure creates unnecessary stress, which, among other things, massively counteracts the benefits just mentioned. Corresponding employees concentrate less on their work than on worrying about constantly conveying a supposedly positive effect to the outside world. This makes them far less productive than they could be.
Often, such behaviors are rooted in the belief that remote or home office employees are somehow "different" than their colleagues in the corporate office. The pressure or impression that they are perhaps less valued than company employees working on-site leads to an increased desire for profiling. To counteract this, remote work and home office 2022 must be anchored in the minds of the entire company as normal. If this succeeds, companies will benefit from a homogeneous perspective that not only helps to establish appropriate procedural structures, but also to successfully use and continuously develop them in the long term.
With the previous conclusion, we are already very close to the topic of team cohesion. Management also resists remote and home office teams because they fear that they will weaken the team spirit and ultimately the corporate culture. Of course, when working digitally from home or on the road, important casual conversations during breaks, spontaneous team calls, and team building activities are eliminated or at least less easy to implement. With the right attitude and a proactive approach, however, such social and corporate-identity-specific components can certainly be transferred digitally.
With the right attitude and a proactive approach, however, such social and corporate-identity-specific components can also be transferred digitally. The use of modern technologies, such as video chats or video conferencing, for such purposes strengthens the innovative character of a company and brings a significant plus in efficiency.
- Remote work and home office eliminate long commutes with nerve-racking traffic jams, train delays etc. As a result, the working day starts much more relaxed and not least faster.
- With the elimination of the commute, any costs for company cars or bus and train tickets borne by the company are saved.
- In general, there are fewer distractions, especially in the home office. There are no colleagues to tempt you to talk to while you work and the noise level is generally lower at home, which ultimately results in more concentrated work.
- Employers offer their (potential) employees an additional incentive to stay in the company or to apply for a job by offering the option of a home office.
- Furthermore, the employer does not have to set up a workstation for remote or home office employees in 2022, which saves space and money.
Both in the context of remote and home office work as well as with regard to the different customer support that often results from this, the use of specialized tools plays a crucial role in success. They form the digital basis for important communication and organizational processes that otherwise take place primarily face-to-face or within the company. For example, if you want to communicate the results of your work to colleagues or explain the key benefits and functions of a product to an important customer, you cannot do this on site as a remote or home office worker. Appropriate tools are optimally aligned with the respective company requirements and ultimately result in a virtual additional operating location. Without appropriate technologies, economic remote work and home office would not be possible in 2022. Below you will find some inspiration in this regard.
The market is bursting with corporate messengers, which often offer numerous other features in addition to the pure live chat. The first thing to do is to wisely filter out which tool is particularly suitable for your own purposes. Functions that allow a certain emotional, natural communication, such as the emoji reactions and GIPHY integrations familiar from social media, should definitely be enabled. This is where remote work and home offices are often particularly lacking, which can result in comprehension problems and ultimately inefficient processes. In addition to (at best) natural communication, chat systems offer the chance to document decisions and make them traceable in the long term. Remote and home office communications are often asynchronous. However, this is not a problem when using messengers, because conversations there remain traceable. This way, all team members are always up to date and can participate in important decisions within their respective working hours.
Ideally, such chat tools are combined with a whiteboard on which all team members can track the progress of specific projects or production processes and also record or at least transparently find their contribution to the whole. Such a central data board and processes that are generally clearly visible to everyone, as well as the storage or provision of important documents in a specific, easily accessible location, are key to the successful establishment of remote work or home office in 2022.
Employees who work from home should, of course, always be available flexibly at the company for important customer appointments. However, if this is not possible or even not desired by the (potential) customer, there are many digital alternatives. With the video chat, which will be focused on in more detail in the following, important functions of products or services can be presented live to the interested parties via webinar almost like in a real contact. The latter, in turn, have the opportunity to interact directly, i.e. to ask questions or make suggestions for more detailed descriptions.
In the previous section, we described how a digital customer meeting via video chat can look. Of course, much more ordinary communication situations are also conceivable here - for example, for quick personal answers to specific questions about a product.
But video chats should also become commonplace within the company. As soon as communication becomes very nuanced, perhaps confusing or even heated, video chat in the context of remote work and home office 2022 is the best option for creating clarity or smoothing the waters. Even in the office, for example, after ambiguities triggered by a circular email, relevant colleagues would come together for a face-to-face discussion. Here it is important - similar to live chat - to find the optimal software for video conferencing. For example, not all tools are equally suitable for large meetings in larger companies. Especially in such a context it is appropriate to rely on a program that offers a gallery view and connectivity to a chat tool. This ensures efficient recording of all participants and provides the option of displaying important ongoing comments and reactions in written form during a conference.
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