An interview with Anders Blom Monberg, Country Manager for Protector Insurance Denmark.
Working from home can be a challenge, even when you know the job, company, and stakeholders very well. When you are new however, you must learn everything in the virtual world.
Many things have changed during this pandemic and onboarding sure is one of them!
At Friisberg & Partners we hear from many CEOs and understand that it has been extraordinarily demanding to get into the new role when the employees and managers work from home. However, many of the CEOs are also finding benefits and new opportunities with getting an online start, instead of a physical presence.
The Country Manager at Protector Insurance Denmark, Anders Blom Monberg shares his thoughts about how he has handled an unusual onboarding when he started his new position on January 1st, 2021.
What considerations did you make before you started, knowing that the offices were empty, and everybody was working from home?
“Before I started this role, many people had already been working at home for a long period of time. I am therefore used to being a leader in a virtual world, and my colleagues are used to the same. It was a big help that we all knew what we were dealing with and had adapted beforehand.”
Did you have an introduction plan?
“Yes. Protector Insurance had given me an introductory plan, and many of my
Throughout the past year our work environment changed dramatically and work from home (WFH), or a home office, became widespread like never before. Let me share with you some – and surely, there are many more – challenges I saw many firms face, as well as having talked to many employees.
At first glance it sounds just great! You don’t need to get up early, you can skip your commute time, you can avoid quick lunches and you can set your own hours to work when you feel like it. Unfortunately, in reality it doesn’t always work that way - it is very difficult to set up and stick to normal business hours. You might have to homeschool your children and so can’t do everything you’d intended to. This means you end up working into the evening or worse still, put off your tasks. Most employees complain about the rigid structure of a regular schedule, but that structure can actually be hugely beneficial.
Some ideas for better time management:
Based on many research studies and also on my own experience, people in home office mode tend to spend more time working than before.
When your personal life and your professional one are under the same roof, it's harder to switch off either one.
How to avoid overworking:
Well, we’ve all faced distracting circumstances while working from home.
These might simply be due to the set-up of our home office: an uncomfortable chair, not enough space for the laptop, etc. It might be a technical issue such as a slow internet, an electricity outage, etc. which are annoying and sometimes difficult to fix. Other disturbing things could be the noise from the neighbour’s house renovation right in the middle of your video presentation, or your partner just using the espresso machine.
At times some disturbances can be funny such as in the middle of your Zoom presentation your cat crawls across your desk in front of the camera, or one of your kids insists you to fix his/her toy asap.
The important thing is to never lose your sense of humour!
In a ‘normal’ work environment human interaction is very important - in some roles it is even crucial.
Social contact is vital and can boost your productivity. You should find those platforms, apps and time to talk about the weekend events or other non-work related events. You could set up time with your colleagues before or after work to chat freely about more personal things.
When working from home, it is possible that you, your workload or the results of your work are only partially visible to your employer or manager. This can easily happen, especially in larger organizations where remote workers are not as recognized or could be the last in line to get a promotion.
Understandably, this sort of low visibility and lack of recognition can be demotivating and possibly limit your performance in the long run.
What to do?
We all have our own ideas of working from home – in many ways this unites us as a shared global experience. The future may well result in us all returning to office based lives, but even if that is the case I feel sure that over the past year we will have learned more about ourselves and our own working practices.
Based on recent client consultations on Organizational Development, conducted by our team of experts, including Zoltan Kadar Friisberg Hungary’s Senior Consultant, and our special advisers at BondWeaver, the following clear trends were observed as changes within organizational networks due to Covid-19:
This has been on the rise within organizations due to the onset of the pandemic, as well as the ensuing economic recession/crisis. It can be seen through the change in communication patterns – in particular there is a higher level of “noise” within the networks as people try to gather information about the company and their tasks from multiple sources. On the one hand this information drought perpetuates the uncertainty of employees, and on the other the effort invested in gathering necessary information results in less energy remaining for work-related tasks.
New ‘key’ people
These are appearing within an organization. This is noticeable throughout unstable situations or as working remotely becomes the norm long-term when new skills and competences are required as well as a greater degree of flexibility. This enables some people to become key players, while others can lose such roles. In such new situations it is important for organizations to identify the key players who managers and colleagues can rely on (such as experts, information brokers, opinion leaders, etc.).
Relationships become more diluted
In the absence of regular physical contact, even those groups with established strong, trusting networks are diluted. Those with weaker links get fragmented / break up, typically cliques of 2-3 people emerge and/or some people break off from the group losing their relationship with the community altogether. This tendency has a clear negative impact on the efficiency of work (numerous studies show that the foundation of efficient work is mutual trust between parties), so leaders have to pay particular attention to strengthening the network of trust and maintaining the personal wellbeing of their subordinates.
It can be difficult to maintain, grow, and develop company culture when most of us are working from home - and will probably be doing so for months to come. Your remote team culture will flourish or fail, purely on communication. Get communication wrong, and you’ll find that your culture just won’t stick.
When we can’t bump into colleagues in the lift, put the world to rights by the water cooler or have an impromptu lunch to chat about life, the universe and everything, teams can become disparate and misaligned. I have been chatting with our clients recently and here are some of their best ideas to keep remote workers feeling part of the wider team: