During the pandemic, DHL Consulting transitioned from a largely office-based work setup to the whole team working from home all the time. What have I learned from the experience? Here are my eight lessons to manage flexible work, also for after the pandemic.
1. Our colleagues like working from home
In a recent survey, a whopping 79% of DHL Consulting employees described their experiences of working from home as either “great” or “pretty great”. That trend in our department is backed up by a poll conducted during the recent GBS Board Calling, which asked participants what the post-Covid balance between in-office and virtual work should be on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being fully office-based and 5 being fully virtual. 77% chose either 3 or 4.
2. Working from home is particularly good for individual, focused tasks
Tasks you need to do on your own and that take quiet concentration – those are the ones that are good to do at home. Indeed, our DHL Consulting colleagues named higher productivity and efficiency as one advantage of mobile working during the pandemic.
3. People appreciate the flexibility
The ability to work flexibly is valued by many team members – and allows those with family responsibilities, for example, to better arrange private tasks and work priorities. Ultimately, a flexible approach can foster more diversity in the team. There is a caveat here: When working virtually, work and home life can blur, so it’s important to create structure in your workday and to plan breaks.
4. Early adoption of collaboration tools helps
DHL Consulting was an early, pre-Covid adopter of virtual collaboration tools like Microsoft 365, and had already pioneered a forward-looking office setup that included a paper-free office and the opportunity for mobile working six days per month. When the pandemic hit, the tools and methods were already in place to support fully virtual teams. This allowed rapid virtualization of recruiting and trainings, and a best practice toolkit for online working was quickly produced.
5. The future will be hybrid
Despite the positives of working from home, we came to the conclusion that some things are simply better done face to face. So at DHL Consulting, we have defined the moments we want to experience with each other in the office. We call these ‘key moments that matter’ for our culture, and we all come to the office on dedicated days to live these moments. We also get together to onboard new joiners, for shared lunches, and birthday celebrations. Furthermore, our teams decide internally and with the customer on in-person project-related events: Examples are project kick-offs, client workshops, brainstorming sessions, and team-building events.
6. And anyway, it’s just good to see each other …
…so at DHL Consulting, as long as local Covid health and safety regulations allow, every second Friday is a mandatory office day on which everyone attends in person. This reflects our belief that social activities and culture cannot be completely replicated virtually.
7. Hybrid working takes investment
We invested in supporting tools, training and well-being to help with the transition to virtual working. The same is needed for the “new normal” with a hybrid approach to work. Leading hybrid teams is a different ball game, so we are making sure that our people are prepared by developing a leadership package and practical guidelines.
8. We should remain flexible after the pandemic
At DHL Consulting, we consistently measure our success and regularly collect feedback from our customers and our employees. This, and the willingness to flexibly adapt when required, is the basis for any decisions we make about our future working model.
We are open to change: As long as we have the structures in place that enable us to do what’s important in our team, let’s embrace a new flexible way of working for the future.
Have you and your team been working from home? What has the experience taught you for the time after the pandemic?
I am looking forward to exchanging experiences with you here on my blog or on LinkedIn.