An interview

How we make remote work happen, internationally

Hemeoffice, remote, international

Almost overnight working from home became necessary for many employees due to Corona, becoming a challenge for many companies. nexum, on the other hand, already had offered flexible working solutions to their staff before and had set the relevant conditions. In current situation of the pandemic and under strict hygiene measures, everyone at nexum is free to choose whether they want to work in the office or continue working from home. We were interested how our colleagues in Switzerland and our new team in Spain experienced the year and how they are dealing with the current situation.

Who did we talk to?

Under strict hygiene measures at last a third of the employees can return to their offices. Do many of you use the opportunity? What is the current situation?

Nicola:Here in Switzerland we defined Monday as a set office day. We have enough space to keep a proper distance. Everyone can decide for themselves when they want to arrive or leave. That way we can avoid rush hours in public transport. During the remaining days there is always someone in the office. Usually the ones with little kids at home. A coincidence? I don’t think so…

Alejandro: Back in July, we agreed that everyone who was willing to come to the office could come. We set some rules to secure the hygienic standards like wearing masks, using hand sanitizer and making different lunch schedules. Most of us came to the office and only the people who lived with risk patients in their environment stayed at home. Now, given the rise of cases in Spain and the fact that many of us have been on vacation with friends and family, we’ve asked everyone to remain at home at least until end of March 2021 unless it is imperative to come to the office. In this case we asked every member of the team to inform the rest, so that we would always know who is at the office.

If you evaluate: What worked well for you, what could have gone better?

Alejandro:Sometimes it was hard to follow all the rules. Masks can be quite annoying if you must wear them all day long. But so far, all the rules we applied worked well.

Nicola: If we put aside the initial ergonomic shortcomings of working at home (let’s not talk about the dinner table as a working space) the change worked quite well. Our meetings do not only start on time, but even a minute early. Certainly, we do not want to have a negative effect on the swiss cliché of punctuality.

The lockdown was and still is challenging for many people. Homeschooling, childcare while working or hardly any human contact for weeks, which was very stressful for some people – what did nexum do to support their staff in this difficult situation?

Nicola: Since our traditional Easter breakfast had to be cancelled this year, we delivered an Easter package to all colleagues and had a remote breakfast together. Apart from that we had regular virtual get-togethers, especially at the beginning, initiated by our Slack bot.

Alejandro: We tried to make schedules as flexible as possible. It was already part of our work culture to put people’s families first, so it was only natural for people to adapt to this new situation. We also created a daily meeting called “Coffee and cookies” via Teams, so everyone could meet at one place every day to talk and see each other. Finally, we made some online gaming Fridays after work to spend some time together outside of the office time and try to normalize a very non-normal situation.

What advantages did nexum have during the lockdown due to its already existing systems?

Alejandro: Working with international teams has some clear trade-offs, but given the current scenario, this has been a strength in the end, as all the team was forced to work remotely, removing the “being abroad” effect. It helped integrating people in Spain.

And personally: What do you miss from “the old days”? What is bothering you most about the “new normal”?

Nicola: The birthday cakes at the office (laughs)!

Alejandro: I miss having all colleagues around in the office. Of course, it is easier to help someone who is in the same room as you, and it is also easier to catch the mood of the people if you have a coffee with them now and then.