In her very personal blog post, “The lockdown, BUWOG and I”, our colleague Sonja Steidl talks about what the last weeks of restrictions on movement were like for her, her experience with BUWOG and working from home during this time, and the challenges that had to be overcome.
I couldn’t believe it, right up to the final moment. When over the weekend preceding 16 March the instruction came for the entire BUWOG staff to work from home from that point on and until further notice, I was thoroughly bewildered – to put it mildly. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a large company such as BUWOG having to close its doors from one day to the next.
But it wasn’t merely all of BUWOG that relocated to a home office from one day to the next; the whole city did. The entire country was actually put into a deep slumber by government order, though in BUWOG’s home office there’s been no sign of that slumber thus far.
In the run-up, management and the human resources department had already instructed the team with considerable foresight and prepared them for working from home, thus the transition from office to home went quickly and smoothly.
The shutdown, and everything continues
On day one of the shutdown, I log into Citrix and have a brief IT-related question. After a short wait, a cheerful staff member from the IT service desk responds and solves the matter in just a few minutes. I can get started.
In the first two days, I quickly realise that a lot of things work just the same as before – just contactless. Webex meetings and telephone and video conferences now take the place of the personal meetings in the office. And I have to say that it’s working very well under the circumstances. Even with more complex tasks in contactless cooperation, such as viewing the complete submission planning for a new building project, our colleagues get more and more creative by the day. Only in video conferences does everyone usually react with a sense of hesitant delight. That’s because no one feels like dressing up for the face-to-face meeting with colleagues.
The individual video messages from management and the works council are encouraging as well. In a time of enormous uncertainty, BUWOG is doing everything it can to remain in contact with employees and to allay their fears and insecurities regarding their jobs. At the latest after the video message from Daniel Riedl, it’s clear every job is secure. I ask around in private circles and find such proactive communication on the part of management is not the norm. For me, this is proof yet again that BUWOG holds its employees in especially high regard.
The move is upon us
But not everyone is working from home. After all, the big move to Rathausstraße is imminent. The colleagues from area management and the move’s coordinators are working full speed ahead on it. From the moving boxes to the labels, everything is always ready on time for each employee. Like many of my colleagues, I too am very much looking forward to the new office and can hardly wait until we finally move. A big thank you to everyone who has worked so tirelessly to ensure it all runs smoothly, and praise for so much professionalism!
The PR and marketing department is also working non-stop to remain in touch and produce new content for us. With cultural tips, for instance, we’ve been informed of cultural programmes in the internet such as online concerts and museum visits; this way, we can make good use of the time at home we’ve involuntarily gained, even outside working hours. Or the call to every colleague to post a photograph of themselves in their home office to show with the collage made from it that we’re connected with one another despite the physical distance.
Always quite enjoyable as well: lunch. The new caterer “Limoni’s” didn’t launch at the beginning of May in the easiest of times. Though in May we are still basically working from home, everyone has to go to the office once to pack for our move and is pleased all the more to be able to properly fortify themselves. The menu, moreover, reads something like that of an award-winning restaurant. The first day, a small group from my department tries the lemon chicken on a bed of homemade potato wedges. Not only does it taste great, it’s also beautifully arranged on the plate. Though the tables in the dining room have been moved far apart due to health and hygiene regulations, all of the colleagues sit at least approximately in their usual corner. That’s what’s known as territorial behaviour.
New problems bring new solutions
My personal challenge within the last two months is my new job in unit sales, which I handle entirely by phone in the very first week of the lockdown. Initially somewhat susceptible to disruptions, the connection at home isn’t necessarily helpful. Everyone who has already talked to me on the phone can tell a story or two about it. But in the end, the problems are solved and I receive plenty of support from my new team, my supervisor and my buddy from Carinthia, who has already spent two hours with me, virtually, battling his way through our SAP business software. Thank you for your support, dear colleagues!
What I can’t handle is the mask. I wear it, of course, but I have a deep aversion to it. It’s also possible that my first customer service appointment is to blame. It took place at the construction site of our new Marina Tower project with a vascular surgeon, who had just come from an operation lasting several hours and was still wearing her green surgical mask. When I speak I have the feeling I’m inhaling my mask during the entire appointment. Afterward, it’s slightly liberating when I can finally tear it off. Even these minor inconveniences won’t last forever though.
Out of the crisis together
In the past few months we’ve all had to radically change our lives. Many of us are confronted with enormous challenges both professionally and privately. But no matter how difficult a situation may seem at times, the flip side often shows a positive aspect or two. Nature is able to take a deep breath. A certain sense of deceleration can be felt. And there is a much greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for all the little things that usually seem so natural to us: the freedom to travel the world, the opportunity to hug your family again, or to enjoy a beer after work at your favourite pub around the corner.
Here at BUWOG, it’s nice to see that the crisis has strengthened our sense of cohesion even more. Together we will grow from the situation and emerge from it strong, and hopefully we’ll be able to meet in person again soon. For no matter how well all the technical aids work, in the long run they can’t replace us. Nor should they either.