Bosses are from Mars…

Paschal Naylor, Arkphire
Paschal Naylor, Arkphire

Management and staff agree on one thing: distance is good, says Billy MacInnes

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18 March 2021 | 0

Back in the early 1930s, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote what has become known as The Serenity Prayer, first used by people working for the YWCA and then popularised by Alcoholics Anonymous, among others.

Several slightly different versions have emerged over the years, but they all follow a familiar pattern:

“O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.”

 

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Whatever their merits when it comes to recovering alcoholics, I always think those words should be prominently displayed on the reception desks of nearly every company in the IT industry.

There’s no disputing that technology has been the catalyst for profound changes over the years. Often, the speed of those changes has been breathtaking. The latest example is provided by IT’s role in keeping many businesses afloat through the pandemic and lockdown by enabling the rapid shift to remote working. Make no bones about it, technology played a massive part in making that happen.

On that subject, there was an interesting survey recently by Arkphire highlighting the differences in views between directors and employees over the benefits of remote working.

Perhaps the most significant result is that remote working is now something the vast majority expect to continue after the lockdown ends and the pandemic fades away. The survey found only 12% of employees and 5% of directors would prefer a full-time return to the office.

From an IT supplier’s perspective, that’s the most important finding. Remote working is here to stay and many customers will be adjusting their business accordingly. This is not a short-term adjustment.

As for everything else, well most of it falls under the “accept what cannot be changed” grouping, at least in terms of what a channel partner can do.

Take the divergence around team camaraderie with only 19% of employees saying it has improved in the time they have been remote working compared to 54% of directors.

Can technology help to make employees working remotely feel a stronger sense of camaraderie? Probably not in the sense that the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a feeling of friendship and trust among people who work or spend a lot of time together”.

Lacking culture

The survey reveals marked differences between directors and employees in their views on whether remote working has led to improvements in company culture, performance assessments, training new employees, management performance and internal communications.

For my part, I don’t believe technology can play much of a role in bridging those gaps because they seem to be about perceptions and, as we all know, management and employees often have different perspectives on things. In that sense, it’s probably down to directors to try and view those issues through the eyes of their employees.

The divergence in findings between managers and their workers should give them pause for thought if they want to make remote working as effective for everyone as possible.

The good news is that there are areas where both parties are in broad agreement. For example, 98% of directors trust their employees are working well remotely and 90% of employees feel trusted. As many as 94% of directors feel more confident or as confident in their ability to manage their business while working remotely. Among employees, 80% feel more confident or as confident in their ability to manage their work when working remotely.

In terms of self-discipline, the findings are also positive with 81% of directors believing employees’ self-discipline has improved. Almost half of employees (46%) agree, compared to 23% who say it has deteriorated.

At a guess, I’d suggest technology had little, if any, influence over those positive results.

But that’s fine. Technology only needs to change the things it can change. People can do the rest. The wisdom, as Niebuhr knew, comes in knowing one from the other.


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