Working from home? Here's how to convince company leadership!

The topic of "New Work" is unfortunately still prevalent in many companies. All too often, managers long for the old days when they could count and keep an eye on all their employees in the office. In my new blog post, I will show you how you can successfully convince your board of directors or owners to embrace the new era.

"Could you tell me in more detail - how does he go about trying to convince you to be present in the office?

"He tries to convince us with his arguments and generate evidence that, for example, fewer emails are written when working from home. However, when we checked at his request, it turned out that this was not true. For him, the 'office chair factor' still counts - that is, how long someone sits on their office chair."

"So his strategy is to persuade you with arguments?"

"Yes, exactly. It feels like there are countless arguments, but they are all from the old world. They simply do not fit into today's world. A clear 'wall' has now been built between him and us, the board, and there is a lot of tension when the topic of working from home comes up."

"What would you like to happen in the next conversation about working from home? How could you use his preference for arguments to your advantage?"

"Well, firstly, we would like him to listen to us. We want him to listen to our arguments and show openness towards the changing work world."

"What could you do on your end to achieve this goal? What would be a first step?"

Success Factor Structure

My client is contemplating. As a stimulus, I am describing to him the three levels of a conversation:

Clear structure and good preparation are crucial for a successful conversation. Additionally, it is important to repeatedly consider beforehand: which level am I currently on? A conversation has three levels: 

  • Is there a need for clarification regarding the content?
  • Method - Is there a need for clarification regarding our methodology? How do we work together? How do we communicate? What meetings are necessary? Who creates the agenda and when do we meet? In challenging meetings, it is important to always agree on a binding action plan or implementation agenda at the conclusion. This should specify what will be done, when it will be done, how it will be done, and who will be responsible for it.
  • Psychosocial - Is there a need for clarification on the psychosocial/emotional level? What is required to establish a strong foundation on the psychosocial level, such as trust, and how does that translate into specific communication strategies during the conversation? What specific phrases or preparations would you like to incorporate?

"Once again, my question - with regard to the levels - what would be a first step towards your goal?

"Clearly, on the substantive level. There is a lot of clarification needed. It's about recognizing a changing work world. Work has become more complex in content and is not limited to the office desk. Our employees have a different expectation of work than they did 20 years ago. Corona did not bring about this change, but only accelerated it!"

Working from home – the advantages

"What arguments do you consider relevant and have the potential to convince the owner?

"We clearly observe that many employees concentrate much better and are therefore more productive. Additionally, working from home is a benefit and prerequisite for many employees when choosing an employer. This also enables us to retain qualified staff and motivate them to remain productive for us. In times of the 'war for talent,' this is an important argument!

"Are there any other arguments?"

"Certainly - I would also like to involve my board colleagues in this discussion. Simply listing the arguments instead of relying solely on intuition will already be helpful for me."

Counterexample sorter? You should know about this strategy!

"What can you do on a psychosocial level? What does your boss need in order to listen to you?

"He is a very direct person and loves arguments. I think we should proactively approach him about the possibilities and show that we are actively engaging with the topic and have concrete ideas. The problem is that he likes to do the exact opposite of what is suggested."

"That's what we call a contrast sorter," I explain to my client.

Contrast sorters are people who immediately take the oppositional (complementary) position in questions, conversations or discussions, actively seeking out what is different from the heard content, or what is wrong or could go wrong. Their attention is focused on the opposite. The contrast sorter tends to focus on the unequal and looks for evidence of why something is not right or won't work. In a team, contrast sorters are not always pleasant to work with, but they point out challenges that others may overlook. The contrast sorter associates this with the feeling of freedom. Therefore, in communication, it is important to always offer the contrast sorter choices/alternatives, so that they can exercise their love of freedom.

"What choices could you offer your owner?"

"Isn't it enough of a choice to present him with many arguments? What would you suggest?" my client asks in return.

"For example, you could give him the choice of different working time models. In addition, you could offer him to initially agree on a trial period for a specific model, in which your owner can be convinced of the performance and benefits. And accompany the project with well-documented numbers. For example, document what employees achieve during the day and upload documents and other materials to a cloud or SharePoint, so that the owner has access to the results at any time. Create transparency. Trust arises from this. Ensure that the benefits are visible - even for the owner."

Clear message to the "old school"

I conveyed another message to the client: the new generation entering the leadership ranks of companies has undergone a process of digital socialization and questions the "old school" on a daily basis. This is a fact. Old leaders are still resistant to change. I am convinced that this is partly due to the fact that the vast majority of companies are still managed in a top-down and highly hierarchical manner. Many companies have been very successful with this approach, so far! However, looking towards the future, the question arises as to whether this will be sustainable in the ever-escalating VUCA world: a single person cannot oversee the increasingly complex and uncertain world alone and make the right decisions. Today, companies and entrepreneurs need multiple perspectives to find a sustainable solution. This also involves questioning the status quo and possibly deviating from things that have made a company successful in recent years. The physical office is just one example of this.

Do you also want to find a new perspective? Contact me. I am happy to be your sparring partner!

[Translate to English:] | Sharomka