Old Ways of Managing Don’t Work for Online Workers

With Covid-19 we have seen the introduction of more online work; and many organisations have been forced to accept that their managers have been ill-equipped to manage in the new environment. Organisations have found that management methods that ‘sort of worked’ pre Covid-19 didn’t work when people worked online from home.

In the new environment, managers who saw themselves on top of a group of people, no longer had a role. It was no longer possible to look ‘over-their-shoulder’ and closely supervise what would be done or how it would be done. It was no longer possible for them to be top-down, controlling and limiting. It just didn’t work in the new environment.

In my experience top-down was always a poor way to manage. It’s largely why, in 1992, we set up Virtual Group Business Consultants. We launched it in a pinstriped tent as a symbol that intangible assets are more important than tangible assets (see the high-rise buildings of our competitors behind the tent). By intangibles we mean relationships, knowledge, experience, culture, brand, and service delivery. The tent also symbolises our flexibility, pin-stripped quality, canvas-thin overheads and virtual structure).  

Interestingly, the tent has become far more than a symbol; it has changed the reality of how we work. When my colleague John Pettigrew suggested our marketing slogan, “Wisdom Without Walls” it immediately appealed to me as the essence of what we were trying to achieve.

Wisdom comes from people and treating people as whole: Body (physical), Head (intellectual), Heart (emotional) and Soul (spiritual). Mostly wisdom comes from the Soul. Wisdom comes from becoming deeply connected in three ways: more connected to the Self, to other people and to the environment. These are connections we have always worked to achieve even when most people worked within the organisation. For us working without the walls meant without separations, silos, barriers and controls that normally go with organising people. We have found that people work with unbounded energy in an open system with all unnecessary rules and structures removed, if they are supported by a new type of leadership, technology and culture. 

For nearly 30 years we have helped organisations achieve wisdom without walls and they have found it to be the difference between success and failure. Post-Covid-19 ‘without walls’ has taken on a more literal meaning as Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses in managing people online.

Today we have specialists working with Boards, senior managers and front-line people. We are experts in achieving wisdom without walls, liberating human energy, breaking down silos, building connections and trust, opening communications and reducing complexity by removing unnecessary boundaries, barriers, rules, processes and top-down management. We are also experts in the technological support and decisions required to work remotely.

If your managers have been ill equipped to manage remote online workers please give us a call. We’d love to chat with you about achieving wisdom without walls in your organisation.

Bruce Holland