Leadership and management of home office staff. Effects and challenges of employees, managers and leaders

Term Paper, 2021

21 Pages, Grade: 1,0



1. Introduction

2. Short introduction of my own study

3. Current Studies

4. Leadership at a distance
Empfehlungen für die Gestaltung der Zusammenarbeit

5. Summary

6. Bibliography

7. Appendix Questionnaire

Declaration of originality

I declare that I have authored this assignmentindependently, that I have not used other than the declared sources/resources, and that I have explicitly marked all material which has been quoted either literally or by content from the used sources.

Tip: For reasons of the legibility the male form was chosen in the text, the information refers nevertheless to members of both genders.

1. Introduction

Many employees want to be able to work from their home office, so that work can be organised more flexibly and more self-determined. Often, commuting times are eliminated by home office and so the gainful employment can be better reconciled with hobbies or family life (see Blumenschein 2017, p. 1). At the beginning of March 2020, the corona lockdown in Germany led to the situation that elements of New Work had to be accepted and introduced from one day to the next. (Wintermann 2020, p. 658). Since then, the topic of home office in particular has become the centre of attention and this brings with it certain challenges.

It is assumed that the home office in Germany will prevail and spread in the long term. The corona crisis is accelerating this development and offers the opportunity for a digital realignment of the companies (cf. Wintermann 2020, 658ff). In a survey conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute, 42% of the companies stated that they wanted to expand the range of corresponding working models even after the crisis (see Hoffmann et al. 2020). Due to this development, the question of leadership at a distance is increasingly becoming a priority. The positive effects of home office can be used only based on good leadership.

But what does a manager have to pay attention to when his employees work outside the company? To what extent does leadership behaviour have to be changed in order to lead successfully from a distance? This is the question that this assignment is about. For this purpose, a survey was prepared, the results of which are used at appropriate points.

First, there is an overview of current studies on the home office and its effects. Then it is about the challenges of self-management for employees and managers as well as leadership from a distance. The next chapter sheds light on the design of the cooperation.

2. Short introduction of my own study

The survey created with SurveyMonkey was sent to the participants via a weblink together with a short explanatory text and a direct link to the survey. The survey period was from June 27 to July 9, 2021. The online survey consisted of 10 questions (maximum possible quantity using the free version, estimated time for answering approx. 5 minutes). 49 people participated in the survey of which 40 answered data sets (maximum evaluable responses using the free version) could be included in the result. The results shown give a non-representative insight into the topic of leadership.

3. Current Studies

With their study on home office work, Müller et al. interviewed people of different ages and from different industries in 2018 and were thus able to identify opportunities and risks of working in the home office. It revealed that in the home office people in total could work with fewer interruptions and with more intrinsic motivation and a better balance between work and leisure time was possible. However, fewer working hours, less feedback from superiors and colleagues and less social support could also be identified as risks in the home office (cf. Müller et. al 2018). In Germany, there is still a considerable mistrust regarding home office. Managers are often afraid of losing control over their employees if they are not in the same building. Several studies showed that home office leads to less stress and more productivity (cf. Wintermann 2020, 658ff).

Various studies proved that employees who are (partially) allowed to work in the home office often work overtime voluntarily and they work more concentrated and productively. In addition, they are less ill and on the whole more satisfied with their work (cf. Schwarzbauer/Wolf 2020). The reason for this increased motivation is the theory of self­determination. According to this theory, people strive for further development, for challenges and, above all, for autonomy. Motivation and job satisfaction do not necessarily lead to higher productivity. Nevertheless, intrinsic motivation is one of the main indicators of work performance. We also know that high job satisfaction increases loyalty to the organization.

In summary, it can be said that most people work more efficiently from home and that they are more satisfied. Besides the high level of motivation, research cites as reasons the elimination of interruptions by colleagues, the stronger concentration on work, less absenteeism and less commuting times (cf. Simsa/Patak 2021).

And yet, home office has been a privilege in Germany so far, because before the pandemic, only up to 5% of the employees in Germany worked in the home office (see Lindner 2020, p. 3), because there is a strong presence culture in German companies. The mistrust of superiors towards home office often inhibits mobile working outside the company (cf. Garnadt et al. 2020).

In my survey everyone indicated that they have worked from home during the last 12 months and over half of them were almost exclusively in the home office. No person stated that home office is not possible in their job.

On average, how many days a week have you worked outside your company over the last 12 months?

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Fig.1: Work situation of the last 12 months

4. Leadership at a distance

If employees work from home, it is initially not possible for the manager to have personal contact at all times. Leadership therefore takes place at a distance and changes in particular the way of communication, leadership mechanisms and the role and attitude of the manager.

In figure 2 you can see that approx. 40% of the respondents noticed a change in the leadership behaviour of their supervisor. 35% could not perceive concrete changes and approx. 22% stated that they cannot judge this which rather leads to the conclusion that there was no noticeable change.

Since the pandemic, my supervisor has provided me with all the necessary equipment for mobile working/working from home and has been supporting me, so that I can carry out my work well.

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Fig. 2: Change in leadership style

Working from home leads to higher requirements regarding the operational organisation of work and collaboration and also regarding self-organisation of all people involved. To be able to use the possible advantages of working from home, both should be promoted through good leadership (cf. Simsa/Patak 2021, pp.75 - 82).

The topic of home office will continue to be present even after the pandemic. Figure 3 shows that 48% want to work from home after the Corona pandemic, at least on a daily basis.

When the pandemic will be over, would you like to work from home as often as you did during the pandemic/you do currently?

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Fig. 3: Desire for home office

What is leadership anyway? In this assignment leadership should be understood as “building a social system with the target to solve an own task or one set by somebody else” (Posé 2016, p. 7), which includes different leadership styles depending on the situation (cf. ibid., p. 6f).

Leadership is a complex task, and often you only think of direct leadership. The variety of challenges as well as the importance of the respective situation are often underestimated. Successful leadership starts with self-leadership. It is about the ability to consciously reflect on one's own behaviour, the willingness to develop further and thus become a role model. Leading oneself means having one's own work organisation under control, acting professionally and reliably. This gives employees the security they need, especially in the event of changes or stressful situations.

The management of employees means being able to assess people, to know their competences and potentials, to promote and challenge them and to deploy them according to their strengths. Another essential task of a manager is the design of the cooperation. Rules for cooperation are defined and compliance is required. As a manager, I also have to ensure that certain goals are achieved, not only mine, but also the defined ones. Here, measured variables, key figures and indicators help to record them accordingly and to monitor them regularly (cf. Simsa/Patak 2021, pp. 137 - 143).

Recommendations for the design of the cooperation

This chapter is intended to show which options a supervisor has when leading his staff from a distance.

All these aspects of leadership change to a certain extent under the conditions of home office and success can only be achieved if there is sufficient contact with the employees. Let's start with how leaders can motivate employees. To do this, it is important to be aware of the following: "People cannot be motivated by others, they can only motivate themselves. All what people want, therefore, is to be able to choose" (ibid., p. 240). This means that a manager can contribute a lot, so that employees are supported in motivating themselves (cf. ibid., p. 240ff).

Figure 5 shows that only 13 from 40 people stated that their supervisor was able to motivate them under home office conditions. This seems to be one of the most important areas of action.

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Fig. 4: Leadership behavior of the supervisor (multiple answers possible)

Another factor is the work performance which is composed of motivation, performance and performance capabilities. Here, employees and managers each have different possibilities of influence. The technical equipment, the communication of information and the organisation lie in the area of performance possibilities, on which the manager has exclusive influence. While the motivation emanates from the employee, the manager can influence the willingness to perform by offering appropriate support or further training opportunities, thus strengthening the performance and trying to prevent demotivation (cf. ibid., p. 248).

A balanced relationship between demanding and promoting can lead to an optimal degree of challenge, which has a motivating effect. This degree is individual for each employee, which in itself does not make it easy and becomes even more challenging when leading from a distance. Less personal contact makes it necessary to observe the situation closely, to introduce more feedback to be able to make an assessment of over- or underload. Many employees need a different kind of leadership under home office conditions. In addition, clear targets are needed, because it is difficult to estimate the current workload of an employee from a distance. Many executives assume that the aspect of demanding will become more important when employees work from home as they would otherwise work less (cf. ibid., p.253). In figure 4 it can be seen that 63% of the respondents indicated that their supervisor trusts that the staff also works productively from home.

Regular feedback is crucial to ensure the right level of demanding and promoting. In addition to formal feedback in employee interviews, feedback is also given spontaneously and in the respective work context. This type of casual feedback is less common in the home office. This can be compensated by holding regular appropriate meetings to reflect on the work performance. While praise can also be conveyed in written form, a conversation with a video function should always be preferred in case of criticisms.

Every manager has the duty of care for all his employees, especially in the home office this point is of great importance. With increased work from home, the so-called "technostress" increases. On the one hand, employees have to deal with various communication technologies and on the other hand, it may be that a feeling of constant availability arises. Another problem can be the mixing of private and professional life when the workplace is moved into one's own four walls (cf. ibid., pp.256 - 274).

In my interview 27 people stated that their supervisor supported them well which suggests that part of them fulfils their duty of care. However, some people indicated that this was not so much the case and two of them did not feel supported at all.


Excerpt out of 21 pages


Leadership and management of home office staff. Effects and challenges of employees, managers and leaders
AKAD University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
leadership, Führung, Führung auf Distanz, Homeoffice, Führung im Homeoffice, Management of employees in the home office
Quote paper
Nadine Haas (Author), 2021, Leadership and management of home office staff. Effects and challenges of employees, managers and leaders, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1139648


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