How the pandemic changed our everyday lives part 2: how we experienced it

From a state of crisis to everyday routine

A lot changed for us last year. Our commute to work changed to a walk from the bedroom to the study. Our favorite sports class suddenly involved unrolling a yoga mat on the living room floor. And sometimes our team members had four legs or waved to us on screen …

Keeping distance

Teleworking and communication keeping pace

So what sort of impact is the pandemic and the Task Force's decisions having on day-to-day working life? Our employees have a clear answer to this question: the proportion of people working remotely has increased considerably worldwide, even nearing the 100 % mark in many departments.

There have also been big changes in how we communicate within our teams. Communication is no longer something that "just happens" across the hallway, and we are missing the sort of conversations we used to enjoy in the pantry or at lunch. Lucie Kortusová explains: "It hasn't been an easy situation for us – we have learned to manage teams remotely from home and via Skype.“ The PR & HR Marketing Manager based in Vimperk was no longer allowed to welcome visitors, and trips from the plant to other locations were also off the agenda. "There were no exhibitions or trade shows and the offices were remodeled," she reports.

Alongside the limitations, however, we have also found that the ability to work from home makes a lot of things easier. There are some things, such as the eTraining courses that have been introduced, that are easier to concentrate on from the comfort of your own office. Long commutes to the workplace are a thing of the past and employees can be more flexible in structuring their working day.

Cafeteria in spite of the pandemic – physical distance markings, disinfectant dispensers, new seating arrangements and food to take away.

Around the world local task force teams ensure the health of our employees.

Not everyone can work from home – this makes it all the more important to take measures to protect our colleagues.

Vaccinations at work: many employees willing to be vaccinated receive their vaccination.

Stronger together

The past year and a half has left its mark on each and every one of us. Lucie Kortusová remembers particularly well how she and her colleagues learned to sew facemasks back when they were initially impossible to lay hands on. One key moment for Martina Renner was when the very first few business trips were possible again in the summer of 2020. "Obviously there were a lot of unresolved questions," explains the team assistant from Munich. "The Task Force answered the questions I had very quickly, providing high-quality information. This meant that I could let my team members travel with a clear conscience and ensured that they also felt safe at all times."

The coronavirus disease was something that the company took seriously from day one and acted upon accordingly. It developed and implemented protection concepts, provided sanitizer and rapid tests, and supplied all employees with masks. Everyone who could worked from home while on the company premises, attention was paid to maintaining physical distance. Vaccination programs are in full swing at many sites. "I just always felt that there was this positive overall vibe of 'Come on people, we can do this together!'," emphasizes Dennis-Peter Merklinghaus, Senior Content Manager & PR Manager in Munich.

Learning from and with each other

The Task Force agrees: At the end of the crisis, it is important to systematically reflect on the lessons learned for the long term? "Our cross-functional Task Force has shown that treating each other as equals and pursuing the best solution is something we can only achieve together," says Nikolas Brink. So are things back to business as usual? Most certainly not. The crisis thrust the things that are really essential into the spotlight. In some cases, this resulted in entirely new approaches, e.g. in IT, in real-time communication. Much of these changes have been received very positively by employees and will be pursued further. "The need to be as flexible as possible has demanded a lot of us – and often led to the best solution," says Holger Schötz. "We are delighted that R&S has remained safe and stable throughout the crisis."

What have our employees learned? "The remote approach can work, too," says Frank Adämmer, System Developer based in Hamburg. Anne Cowper, Vice President of Human Resources for R&S USA, agrees: "I was impressed by how quickly we were able to adapt." Our colleagues are certain: We will continue to make more use of online meetings in the future, and we will also spend much more time working from home than we did before the pandemic.

The New Normal

Nobody has a crystal ball. Hybrid working models are the term on everyone's lips. How can phases of working fully concentrated and alone at home be combined with creative dialog within teams? Will all 12,000 employees return to their workstations? "Personal contact with each other is what made us strong as a company. That's not set to change. We will strike a balance that will decisively strengthen our employees in their autonomy, as well as strengthening our sustainable corporate success," explains Holger Schötz. A new employer/works council agreement on "mobile work" is coming soon.

Our experiences

Lucie Kortusová

Lucie Kortusová, PR & HR Marketing Manager

"R&S responded to the situation immediately, its top priority being to protect the health and safety of its employees."

Anne Cowper

Anne Cowper, Vice President of Human Resources

“It was crazy: there was no manual, nobody had been through this before. I am proud of my co-workers because of how they adjusted.”

Dennis-Peter Merklinghaus

Dennis-Peter Merklinghaus, Senior Content Manager & PR Manager

"I just always felt that there was this positive overall vibe of 'Come on people, we can do this together!'“