One year of the pandemic, remote work & the new normal: How the global Frauscher team succeeded in establishing a new working world.
For more than a year, the pandemic has had many countries firmly in its grip. But as bad as the effects of the Corona crisis are, every challenge brings new experiences as well as opportunities for change – be it personal or professional. The goal at Frauscher was and is to make the best out of the situation. The result: internal and external communications take place almost exclusively digitally. Many questions arise: Can cohesion between team members work at a distance? How can a work culture be maintained when everyone is working from home? What about general motivation or the compatibility of family and career?
Frauscher shares its experiences in times of pandemic.
New Work: From office to home office
Frauscher was one of the companies that reacted very quickly and responsibly to the new situation: As early as March 2020, most Frauscher employees were working remotely from home.
Working from home brings many advantages, but as is often the case, people perceive changes of situations differently. While some employees report that they can now balance their jobs and private lives even better, others, especially employees with (school-age) children, face serious challenges: Of all things, when mom and dad are working, the child needs help with homework – or just some attention.
We asked employees about how they cope with the changing work culture.
Advantages and opportunities through remote work
When it comes to the benefits of working from home, all employees agree: On the one hand, the elimination of the need to travel to and from work – especially over longer distances – saves time, which has a positive effect on the work-life balance. As a result, more efficient and concentrated work is possible, which has a beneficial effect on productivity. The basic prerequisite is functioning collaboration tools, such as a clearly structured intranet. The IT infrastructure at Frauscher made a rapid transition possible to enable people to work from home. "We knew that our IT was set up well; nevertheless, we were surprised at how smoothly everything worked," says Stefan Lugschitz, manager in the R&D Systems department.
Not only the IT infrastructure but also numerous digital platforms, which had also been in use at Frauscher in the past, made it even possible to organize internal events in times of home office – albeit in a different way than they had been used to before. Instead of departmental excursions or company parties, online escape games, gaming nights or even virtual coffee chats were organized. The range of digital alternatives was, and still is, impressive and also generates enthusiasm among employees.
External communication, i.e. global exchange with our locations, suppliers, and customers, also had to take place completely virtually overnight – a change that we at Frauscher mastered without any problems.
We are particularly proud of the digital format webinars: To date, several locations – including India, the UK, North America and Poland – have already expertly explained our solutions and products in specially produced sessions, thus stimulating discussions. We are also (still) digitally connected with our customers – meetings for product acceptance, customer meetings and trainings in virtual space have already become the norm. Customer training sessions even take place via a dedicated portal that enables interactive discussions, among other things. All these measures not only contribute to faster digitization, but also positively influences our ecological footprint.
Of course, it is not only tools, platforms or modern equipment that has helped us through these uncertain times and continue to accompany us. A special thanks goes to the production team, who also hold the fort on-site during the pandemic, produce tirelessly and thus "kept the business going". Andreas Dorfer, an employee from the P-Systems department, on the changed situation: "At the beginning it was a strange feeling, because no one from other departments could go into the production area. Overall, there was a great deal of uncertainty, as no one knew how dangerous the virus really was. In the beginning, it was quite an adjustment for me, since, for example, various materials were only located at defined transfer stations and were not automatically replenished. Over time, however, things settled in quite well."
Challenges in working from home
Where production employees face completely different challenges as a result of their on-site work, working at home does not only offer advantages, there is also disadvantages such as a lack of social and personal contacts that no video conference can replace. This is especially true when it comes to raising team spirit or exchanging ideas, which often would arise spontaneously in passing. The advantage of saving the sometimes-long commute to and from the office can also have a negative impact on personal stress levels, according to the employees surveyed. In addition, after a while there is a lack of variety if you are only sitting within your own four walls all day. In addition, it is often quicker to get opinions from colleagues or ask them for support in the office. The onboarding of new employees is also particularly challenging because this cannot or only partially take place in the office. Another challenge that should not be underestimated is whether there is a clear separation of work and private life when working from home.
Cooperation and team spirit despite the distance – is that possible?
Keeping in touch despite physical distance, strengthening and motivating each other – this has also taken on a whole new significance in professional life. So how do you manage not to lose motivation and a sense of togetherness in the home office and drive projects forward together? In the HR department, we regularly meet online and occasionally organize larger team events. Melanie Gangl, Managing Director at Frauscher UK, has implemented so-called check-in/check-out meetings for her location; i.e., on Mondays and Fridays, the team talks about the topics of the week: "I always coordinate with my team on Mondays so that everyone gets an overview of the upcoming topics; this way, they are informed about what is being worked on in the different areas. Then on Friday, there's a check-out message in the group chat so everyone can read along to what actually happened during the week." But it's not just ways of working that are changing, it's also how people share and connect with work colleagues. Melanie and her team organize digital quiz nights or regulars' tables, for example.
Family and working from home: Does this balancing act work?
How do you reconcile your family life with your professional duties and the exchange with your colleagues? At this point, experiences and lessons learned vary greatly. Stefan, manager in R&D Systems, has set up his own office at home and can therefore work undisturbed. Markus Bernroitner, an employee in the HR department, extremely appreciates being able to spend more time with his family thanks to being able to work from home.
Nevertheless, it is always a challenge to do justice to both. The experience of some employees shows: To avoid being too distracted, it is essential to jointly establish new rules for successful togetherness.
The Future at Frauscher: Hybrid Workplace Models
We have learned over the past twelve months that digital communication works very well and can even have a positive impact on our productivity. Nevertheless, in our view, the future lies in hybrid workplace models. Frauscher will combine the best of both variants – working at home and working in the company – to create attractive workplace models for the future. In the Marketing & Sales department, for example, we are currently working on an innovative office concept including desk sharing. We will keep you up to date on this!