“In the meantime, we have deliberately abandoned the group concept and brought our employees together again; on the one hand for reasons of efficiency, and on the other hand, to give the employees a feeling of belonging again,“ says Velmeden. The material shortage situation nevertheless has added to the on-going stress-level among his employees, complains Velmeden, who now plans to invest part of the cms electronics’ medical budget in a company psychologist, a suggestion that was welcomed by the employees.
According to Markus Aschenbrenner from Zollner Elektronik, large EMS companies are also hiring company psychologists who are frequented more often these days than in normal times. “For the employees, the situation is an enormous psychological strain,“ agrees Arthur Rönisch, managing director of Turck duotec. “Social contact has fallen by the wayside to some extent. Many employees felt the urge to return to the company to exchange ideas. We want to encourage and expand this social fabric again.“
Rönisch insists that the hygiene measures currently in place will be maintained in the future pointing out that the overall sickness rate has also been reduced. However, according to Rönisch, such hygiene concepts have of course also cost the company money. Expenses that cannot be passed on 1:1 to the customer and therefore gnaw away at the margin. Zollner also wants to “slowly loosen up“ its company-wide zoning concept, which is designed to strictly separate fixed groups of employees.
Most of the roundtable participants agree that mobile working, where it makes sense and is feasible, will also become part of the new normality. After all, flexibility will continue to be an important tool for the EMS industry. But how much virtual culture is good for employees and the company, and to what extent can a face-to-face culture be realized again? “Digitization, for example virtual meetings, helped us greatly throughout the pandemic, also in our communications with suppliers and customers. This has offered us more bandwidth in terms of flexibility. However, this also leads to higher stress levels especially in the administrative areas,“ Markus Aschenbrenner notes. Other panelists applauded the efficiency advantages of online meetings. Roland Hollstein highlights increased discipline with regard to meeting duration; this is significantly greater online: “Meetings that used to last three hours may now only take one hour.“ However, according to the panelists, product releases or short “shopfloor meetings“, for example, can also be held effectively online.
“We continue to hold virtual meetings within the company in work groups. The distances in Germany are long and virtual tools offer us the opportunity to make better use of working time than being stuck in a traffic jam on the highway,“ Rönisch clarifies. But there are also topics that are better discussed face-to-face. “Remote management, for example, only works to a limited extent in my opinion,“ counters Marco Balling, Managing Director of productware. Incidentally, the desire for face-to-face meetings is growing again not only internally, but also externally among customers and suppliers, as some panel members confirmed. Nevertheless, most participants also want to retain the video culture to a certain extent as part of the “new normality“. Conclusion: It‘s all about finding the right mix.
“It will be a mix between new and old in the future. Today, I really enjoy being able to look everyone in the face. Technical stuff works just great in virtual meetings, but the social component has suffered massively,“ Schneider sums up, while also pointing out a very special format of the new face-to-face culture at BMK: “We‘ve launched a ‘BMK-Oktoberfest’ where we can meet and exchange ideas with customers and colleagues while conforming to Corona rules. This format is being met with great enthusiasm.“