The car production at Porsche’s main plant in Zuffenhausen has started again, many employees are out of short-time work again, and up to 50 percent of office workers in the home office should be allowed to return to their real workplaces. Wherever space is at a premium, the nose and mouth protection must be worn and there are only two people at each table in the canteen. This is the situation at the Swabian sports car manufacturer.
Elke Lücke, senior human resources developer at Porsche, is proud that the surprising move of over 15,000 employees worked so well. IT has managed to make employees mobile and able to work in no time. But even in the subsequent home office period, the IT experts had found that they were “remotely and distributed” bringing more on the road. Gücke added: “That is why more than 50 percent of employees in IT will continue to work from home or on the go. When it comes to whether and when back to the office, we also look at the needs of the individual teams.”
The move to home office, which Corona forced, has shown many skeptical managers that the processes in their departments can continue without their direct physical control. The following even applies to a number of tasks: “A lot went better because more concentrated and focused work in the home office was more possible,” says Porsche manager Elke Lücke.
If everyone has to work at home and at the same time the childcare systems are no longer available, this undisturbed work at home was not possible, IBM managing director Heftberger objected: “In the first step, we therefore have to create greater sensitivity to the different working conditions . ” In the home offices, these are very different depending on the living and living situation of the employee, while in the office the employees find a largely homogeneous working environment.
That is why Heftberger calls for a kind of code of conduct, for example with regard to accessibility, to be agreed: “You don’t have to be available for video conferences all day in the home office. For me, that’s part of self-care: only if we focus on ourselves and also pay attention to others, we come through this difficult time. ” Heftberger also claimed this for herself, for example when she put her 13-month-old daughter to nap.
Microsoft Germany managing director Sabine Bendiek has also learned a lot in the course of the corona pandemic, for example that the right technology is an important tool, but it remains dull if people do not deal with it. For Bendiek, the crisis has shown: “The most important thing is that companies take people with them.” For managers, this means that they have to deal with their employees in a spirit of trust, develop them further and motivate them. At Microsoft, parents were able to take up to twelve weeks off, even on individual days, to look after their children during the Corona crisis.
When Sabine Bendiek speaks of taking people with her, she also means a change in communication behavior among managers. “We noticed that it is very important to inform employees often and above all based on facts in these times. In the period of presumptions, we tried to be very clear and to make clear with each of our decisions what facts it is based on . ”
Microsoft also offered online consultations with doctors and psychologists during the crisis, which was very well received. At the moment, only a small part of the workforce at Microsoft has returned to the offices. Bendiek recommends continuing to work from home where it makes sense. On-site appointments with customers are not yet an issue.
Communication with customers, but also collaboration among employees and digital leadership are issues that need to be rethought in hybrid and distributed working environments. For Porsche personnel developer Elke Lücke, it is important to find appropriate formats for the teams. But: “Creative innovation processes are not that easy virtually.” In their experience, managers have to be more involved in the fact that employees are not always available and allow them flexible times beyond the meeting formats.
For IBM managing director Agnes Heftberger, the time of the manager has expired, who sees its added value in walking through the open-plan office to control his employees. Instead, we need the “empathetic manager who is at the pulse of their employees.” A rethink that challenges managers, all the more if they can only meet employees virtually over a longer period of time.