Managers don't want a home office - because they don't trust their employees

Many employees would like to have hybrid working models, but their superiors are not convinced. They fear the loss of control and think that work is not done properly within their own four walls.

Working in a home office has become socially acceptable due to the lockdown, and by now most employees no longer want to do without this option. As a result, hybrid work models, which are a mix of presence and remote, are increasingly being called for. But while employees have already noticed many advantages, remote work is still a thorn in the side of many supervisors. A recent LinkedIn study in cooperation with YouGov shows that many managers do not trust employees in the home office. The study surveyed 2,050 managers in various countries, 253 of whom work in companies in Germany.

Critical attitude toward remote work

A full 37 percent of the executives from Germany surveyed by LinkedIn said they feared negative consequences for the company if they enabled their employees to work flexibly. Hardly any other country in Europe has such fears about remote work. Specifically, supervisors are afraid that their employees will not work in the home office (38 percent). Although many advantages of remote work have been demonstrated by the lockdowns, employers lack trust in their employees. In addition, many of them seem to have a problem with the fact that they do not have complete control over the actions of their employees without presence work.

But that's not all. 74 percent of managers in Germany feel under pressure to push through new work concepts and enable flexible working. They feel that this pressure comes from both employees (40 percent) and management (40 percent). Simply put, this means that supervisors feel compelled to offer remote work - because they don't actually want to.

Managers admit lack of confidence

Managers have no doubts about their own abilities. 71 percent believe they have the necessary skills to lead their teams regardless of location. The bigger problem for them are the possible risks, such as more difficult communication among each other and the fear that employees could feel disadvantaged by the home office when it comes to promotions and the like. At first, this doesn't sound completely unreasonable. But the fact is that the biggest sticking point is a lack of trust: 38 percent of respondents admit that they don't trust their employees. They assume that employees will do everything in the home office except work. For this reason, 70 percent still want a three- to five-day presence at the workplace. Barbara Wittmann, Country Manager at LinkedIn DACH, comments:

Managers in Germany must learn to trust their employees more - this is the only way to take advantage of the opportunities that are opening up as a result of the current changes in our working world, and the only way to position themselves as a desirable employer in the competitive labor market in the long term. At the same time, this change also requires a realignment of the corporate culture to ensure that everyone on the team feels equally seen and supported.

Diversity yes, flexibility no

Above all, it is also interesting to note that managers are aware of certain advantages of flexible working. 84 percent believe that hybrid working models positively influence diversity in teams. In their opinion, this is primarily because they can draw from a larger applicant:inside pool without being dependent on location, and more people who rely on flexibility, such as parents, apply. A total of 70 percent want to implement measures for more diversity in the company in the next six months - but they are still not in favor of flexible working. Prof. Dr. Oliver Falck, Head of the Ifo Center for Industrial Economics and New Technologies, explains:

Even before the pandemic, flexible and hybrid working models failed not so much because of technological or organizational obstacles, but rather because of rejection by superiors. Yet the home office option offers companies demonstrable advantages, especially in recruiting - they can expand their search radius and score points with the ever-growing group of candidates who value or require flexibility. Those who return to the old status quo will have more difficulty finding new employees in the future.

But despite the reservations, 75 percent want to establish new ways of working. The focus is also on learning opportunities (86 percent), for example to improve collaboration despite physical distance. Young employees in particular should also be encouraged, because 89 percent believe that they are at a particular disadvantage if they cannot work on site in the office. After all, they would miss out on many learning opportunities and chances to network.

It is to be hoped that managers will also develop more trust in their employees with these new measures. After all, permanent mistrust has a negative impact on the working atmosphere and also drives a wedge between employees and their superiors. Being aware of the risks of remote work is good. Preventive measures can be taken. However, managers should stop assuming that work is not done properly in the home office. Performance should be measured by the work done, not the location.

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