Tina Neitzel, who works as a strategic purchaser for OJ Electronics, recalls how the coronavirus pandemic brought abrupt changes to everyone’s working lives:
“Back in March 2020, when the Danish government essentially put Denmark in lockdown due to the coronavirus, OJ Electronics followed suit and took steps to protect staff and customers alike. All who could work from home were encouraged to do so – not least in order to ensure that our production staff were subjected to as little risk of infection as possible. Social distancing was the order of the day, and we all quickly got used to an intense regimen of cleaning and using hand sanitiser.
We might not fully have realised this at the start, but this was the beginning of a new era and a new way of working, swapping real-life meetings for online conferences instead. Working from home for long stretches at a time is very different from having the odd day at the home office. But many of those changes actually turned out to be for the better! First of all, I found that there were fewer interruptions, allowing you to really delve down into each task and focus on it. In fact, many processes turned out to be more efficient this way!
In the case of my particular kind of work, I found few, if any, limitations on what I could do from home via my computer and phone. Thank heavens for modern technology! I mostly work with established contacts and suppliers, so we were able to pick up where we left with no disruptions – and because many of them worked from home, too, we’d often establish a more personal connection; for example when their kids could be heard in the background during Teams meetings.
At OJ Electronics, we’ve been free to decide for ourselves exactly when is best for us to work – which is practical for us and for the company in general: staggering our working hours helps avoid network congestion, making sure we’re not all online at the same time. Spring was particularly fine here in Denmark in 2020, so when the weather was great, I’d sometimes take a few hours out in the sunlight at midday and then pick up work again at night.
Even in the first months of the pandemic, I didn’t stay home all the time. I’d come into work when needed; some things are best done in collaboration with colleagues, and it’s important to stay in touch. And I think we’ve all learned some very valuable lessons about the benefits of combining home and office work that will benefit us greatly in the months ahead – even after the pandemic is over. Still, you can’t really underestimate the value of real-life, social interaction. That part’s hugely important in my job, too.
Now that autumn’s come around, we’ve settled into new routines and the new world. Compared to the spring, when the situation was entirely new and so many factors were unknown, there is less pressure to work in a particular way; the first time around, we HAD to work from home; right now, it’s more of a choice. We’re also somewhat busier than in the first months of coronavirus – during the first wave, everything shut down at first, but now things are still moving. And whereas everyone was working from home in the spring – including all our suppliers – there’s more of a mix now. We still travel very little compared to previous years; most of our suppliers don’t receive outside visitors these days. Not even in Denmark. But whereas you’d practically always find people at home before, they’re now as likely to be at the office. I personally yearn for travel to be allowed again – it’s essential to my job, not least when auditing suppliers. We’ll be tremendously busy once the coronavirus loosens its grip on us!
I think the combination of working from home and coming in to the office has been a very positive experience. And I do think we’ll see a lot more of that in the future, even after the coronavirus has been beaten. Everyone has gotten used to working this way – including the management, who fully recognise that having staff work from home can be as efficient as having them at the office.”