All managers on deck to make remote work possible

Mark Gray23 February 2021

We have known for years that remote work and working from home has many benefits. Nevertheless, it was insufficiently stimulated by managers. Now that we’re all working this way, it’s time for them to get on deck and roll up their sleeves.

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It was back in 1998 that the former Dutch Minister of Social Affairs Klaas de Vries held a speech in the context of the annual teleworking prize presentation. De Vries estimates that there are 157,000 people in the Netherlands working from home and not from the office. This made the Netherlands the frontrunner in Europe, but the development was far slower than TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) had predicted six years earlier. TNO had calculated that 500,000 employees would be working from home in 1998 .

De Vries didn’t really understand why the growth of teleworking was so much slower than predicted. Surely the benefits were clear? Fewer traffic jams, improved job market access for those with a handicap, and cost savings for organisations were just some he mentioned. Presumably somewhat disappointed, he was afraid that teleworking was a hype that would pass.

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Trust one another

The Netherlands has remained the frontrunner in time- and place-independent work. But the growth remained slow and steady. In 2019 4/10 employees worked from home (occasionally), when working conditions allowed it. Those working from home were primarily office workers.

In the same year, over 80 percent of organisations in which remote work was possible technologically didn’t stimulate it. They preferred seeing their staff at the office every day. So the reason is not technological. Nor the fact that remote work has no benefits. The most important reason was the mangers who did not believe that staff can take on teh responsibility of working from home. They didn’t trust their staff.

Adapt your leadership style

Corona showed that employees can readily take on the responsibility of working away from the office. And that there are clear benefits: less travel time, a better combination of work and private lives, and improved productivity, especially for individual tasks. People want to keep working from home also after Corona. But this means you’ll need a new style of leadership.


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