Workplaces have been gathering dust, this past month. The coronavirus has forced us to launch the largest teleworking experiment ever. Before the pandemic, 1 in 3 Belgians occasionally worked from the kitchen table. The figures were the same for the United Kingdom and Germany. Only the Netherlands scored better, with 4 out of 10 employees having the opportunity to telework. But are companies happy about it? And do employees like working this way? What can you do, as HR, to ensure that teleworking goes smoothly and what steps should you take as an employee? Onyx tells you all you need to know.


Teleworking is based on the premise that there is a relationship of trust between the employer, the chain of command and the employee. Companies that use a management model based on control think that they will lose this control outside of the office walls. But if you work with a motivated team that is committed to achieving goals, that is part of a larger whole and in which every employee feels respected, then that kind of control becomes completely unnecessary. After all, do you really think that this motivation disappears once your employees are no longer at their desks? And if an employee fails to reach a target, then it is the responsibility of the management to look for the cause and to take steps to address it together with that person, regardless of whether they are working at the office or from home. If people perform well when they are at the office, but not when they work from home, you have to wonder why. Are they less motivated or do they lack access to certain tools or knowledge at home? These are challenges that require a different approach. Lack of effort needs to be addressed in one-on-one sessions, and a lack of access to tools or knowledge can be resolved with technical support and/or by introducing systems or processes.
By imposing an ‘office only’ policy, you make it more difficult for the employee to find the right work/life balance, which will in turn result in reduced motivation and productivity. The real question the management has to ask itself is not ‘can I trust my employees’ but ‘how can I create a working environment and collective mindset that will benefit my employees and my company?’


In the Capital Trends Report by Deloitte, 84% of employees indicated that their engagement has a major impact on their productivity. Half of the employees surveyed stated that their company is not able to encourage that engagement by creating a positive working environment. The current corona crisis is forcing managers to adopt a different mindset. By thinking in terms of results instead of hours. By connecting employees and encouraging them to share experiences.


  • Be flexible

    This is how you can give a different meaning to productivity. Leave your employees free to work according to whatever schedule suits them best. Forget about the timeclock, demanding regular working hours is ‘out’. Giving your employees the freedom to create their own daily work schedule will allow them to increase their engagement and productivity.

  • Create a daily moment for contact

    Schedule 5 minutes each day to check in on how things are going. Not with the whole team, but one-on-one and face-to-face by video (Skype, Zoom, Whereby, etc.). Turn it into a daily ritual. That way, you can stay on top of what is going on and make any necessary adjustments quickly without losing time. You can even create a checklist that your employees can use to evaluate themselves. What goal did I set for myself today? Have I reached my goal? What are the areas where I need help and who can provide it? Do I have an idea for how to improve my work/the process? How am I feeling? A daily contact moment encourages the development of trust, connection and setting a common goal – the three main ingredients for a healthy social system.

  • Keep a step ahead of loneliness

    There are also likely to be employees in your team who don’t enjoy being alone all day. In extreme cases, long-term isolation can even lead to depression. As a manager, you should be aware of this. Do what you can to make sure that every team member is involved socially. Organise a competition, set up an online game, create virtual opportunities for humour. After the corona crisis, you can also encourage your employees to use a co-working space once in a while.

  • Add a bit of emotion

    Use animated GIFs and emoticons to convey emotions. Because, since so much of communication is non-verbal and, as Belgians, we are not so great at expressing emotion in the first place, your words may come across as more aggressive or less impactful than intended. By using an animated GIF (you can find these in Skype, Messenger, or on you can reinforce your message with emotion.

    Great Job GIF by Captain Obvious - Find & Share on GIPHY

  • Also consider their career path

    Watch out that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking of your external team members as freelancers or contractors who are only helping you to get things done. Just like at the office, your employees working remotely have goals and ambitions. By making sure that they are able to make progress towards their development goals and providing them with a view of available career paths, you can avoid confusion or frustration. Give them access to (online) training and also give them a pay raise when they have earned it.

  • Communicate in terms of solutions

    There is no avoiding problems, but you can encourage efficient collaboration by communicating in a ‘problem-solving’ way. When the sole focus of your discussion is the problem and who caused it, you are bound to provoke negative responses.

    • Use terms and statements that focus attention on finding solutions. You can do this by asking the right questions: ‘What do you think is the problem?’, ‘What solution would you suggest?’
    • Always speak in ‘I-statements’: ‘I’ve noticed that’, ‘I see the problem like this’.
    • Use phrases that incorporate suggestions: ‘I have a suggestion’, ‘I have an idea for how to solve this’.


  • Give yourself time

    Working from home can represent a major transition and may stir up mixed emotions. Where one person may experience loneliness, stress and anxiety, another will feel relaxed, productive and energetic. That’s all okay and perfectly normal. Give yourself a bit of time to adjust to the new situation.

  • Keep moving

    Schedule times for exercise, during your break or while you work. Exercising not only improves your health but it also boosts productivity.

    • For 30 minutes each day, place your computer on a bookshelf and work standing up.
    • Set an alarm and periodically spend a minute doing stretching exercises.
    • Walk through the house when you are making a phone call.
    • Go for a walk during your break.
    • Hold an online meeting while you walk.
  • Don’t overdo it

    Contrary to what many managers assume, you work more when you’re at home, than at the office. Do you notice that you have trouble switching off and stopping with work? Then set a schedule with fixed hours for yourself. Share your schedule with your colleagues and family members.

  • Do not disturb

    Talk to your family members about basic ground rules during your working hours and be clear about what you want. Assume that anything that can interrupt you will interrupt you, such as your toddler bursting in while you are Skyping with a customer or your dog demanding attention during a meeting. Work as proactively as possible to prevent this type of incident. A simple, old-fashioned Post-It note with ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ on your door is still hard to beat.

  • Work ergonomically

    When you work in the correct, healthy way, you can increase your comfort as well as your efficiency. Here are a few tips for good ergonomics:

    • Keybord
      Position your keyboard about 15 cm from the edge of your desk, so that your forearms can rest on your desk. This ensures that you will sit up straight to work and will keep your shoulders relaxed.
    • Chair
      Make sure your seat is not too high, you need to be able to place your feet flat on the ground with your back supported by the backrest. If you are unable to place your feet flat on the ground, you will automatically slide forward, which put a lot of pressure on your lower spine. This causes back pain. If you are not able to lower your office chair, then you should use a foot rest.
    • Screen
      Position your screen at or slightly below eyelevel and directly in front of you.
      The position of your screen has a major impact on your neck muscles. Looking up puts 100 times more burden on your neck than looking down does. Looking to the right or left, instead of straight ahead is also hazardous because of the imbalanced strain on your neck muscles.
    • Mouse
      Use an ergonomic mouse. Using a standard mouse forces you to turn your thumb inwards and your elbow outwards. This creates tension in your hand and wrist joints. An ergonomic mouse or a vertical mouse supports your entire hand (a standard mouse does not support your little finger).


Onyx helps companies and organisations to take their first and next digital steps by designing customised online training programmes (e-Learning). Do you have a question or are you looking for advice? Our L&D expert Claire has the answers.
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