Digitalization in miniature. The Corona crises and the home office
It came with a vengeance. At the beginning of the year, isolated reports were heard from China and Wuhan about the coronavirus. But China was very far away. And suddenly it was here, too and determines our lives. Since the middle of March, social and economic life in Germany and Europe has been at a standstill. The restrictions decided by the government stipulate that all contacts with people who do not belong to the own household are to be limited to an absolute minimum and are valid provisionally until the beginning of May. Of course, this inevitably has an impact on the working life of everyone. And this is where the most diverse scenarios come into play.
From the office to the home office
With us at ADCONIA, it was no problem to send all colleagues to the home office from one day to the next: We are all equipped with laptops and smartphones and, due to our project work, we are used to work decentralized and to organize ourselves virtually. So, we have now set up a daily video conference call to keep each other up to date and are also well networked in our everyday business. We have organized an emergency staff for the office rooms, who regularly checks that everything is in order.
I know similar examples from my circle of friends and acquaintances. A friend of mine who works for a state company has already been doing 40% of his work via „telework“ for half a year. Now this has been temporarily increased to 100% and he is happy to spend more time with his wife and child. Another friend, who works for an educational institution, was equipped with an all-in-one PC and sent home from where she now goes about her work. And I even know a kindergarten teacher who now does parts of her job – apart from emergency care for children with parents in system-related professions – from home via laptop, telephone and web conferencing with colleagues.
However, home office not always possible
But by no means all companies can adapt so flexibly to the new situation. I know several examples – from a medium-sized surface technician to the administration of a big health insurance company with an open-plan office – where the physical presence of the employees is still required.
To stay with the example of the surface technician: There, the administration staff work with desktop PCs, which cannot be mobilized without effort. And even if the colleagues took them home with them, access to the servers and necessary programs would be problematic because they cannot be accessed from outside the company network. In addition, the interface between operations and administration has so far been completely paper-based and personalized and has not been digitized in any way by now. This means that if the administration staff were to act from the home office, it would have no access to the operations of the company. The solution regarding a corona-related contact minimization is here transitional shift work, so that colleagues can better avoid each other.
But perhaps it is precisely such a crisis situation that provides an opportunity to take a closer and more intensive look at digitization. Only in extreme situations are such „paper handovers“ particularly conspicuous, and surely a solution can be found together, or must be found at times of crisis. Create a simple list with exactly the points that are now coming to light and collect suggestions for solutions to automate processes. The Corona crisis will not end tomorrow and there is certainly room for lateral thinking and forward thinking now.
Digitalization can start on a small scale
The keywords digitization and automation have been on everyone’s lips for years. Many companies, especially SMEs, have been reluctant to tackle these issues because they seemed too far away, and a benefit was not immediately apparent. However, the examples above show that these keywords are not always about the use of artificial intelligence. blockchains or robotic process automation. Even on a small scale, digitization can start and support and facilitate everyday work. Companies that have already been involved in the digitization of their processes in the past are now at an advantage, as they are able to offer their employees a smooth workflow in the home office.
Certainly, this crisis will pass. And we are all looking forward to expecting a little bit more of the daily work routine again, probably starting in May, together with colleagues in the office rooms. This crisis is unique and will – hopefully – not be repeated on this scale. Nevertheless, we would like to recommend that you open yourself up to the topic of digitization: whether it be on a small scale or on a larger scale. Use the time of lockdown already now to approach this topic. We will be happy to assist you with this.
Until then: Stay healthy!
Managing Director, ADCONIA GmbH (Oberhausen)
Consultant, ADCONIA GmbH (Oberhausen)