“Screen time cannot replace personal contact“

"Screen time cannot replace personal contact“


Homeoffice forever is not a solution for Patrik Lundberg, CEO of Parkster. The provider of mobile phone parking has just been awarded as a Great Place to Work. […]

How have working conditions changed in the course of the corona pandemic?

Patrick Lundberg: In spring 2020, we were in the comfortable situation that we could rely on a powerful mobile office infrastructure for our team. In this respect, the effects on working conditions in terms of internal workflows and processes remained manageable from a functional point of view.

So all vain sunshine?

Lundberg: No. We are a young Dedicated team and in our Swedish-influenced corporate culture, social interaction is very important to us. That’s part of our DNA. Of course, we missed many personal encounters, be it here in the team on site or with colleagues at the headquarters in Lund. You can do a lot digitally, but nothing can replace face-to-face contact. Therefore, last year was always a balancing act for us:When, if and how do we meet live in a team, when virtually in teams? For safety reasons, we equipped our German headquarters very early with CO2 measuring devices and air purification devices with HEPA H14 filters and implemented strict in-office rules of conduct such as wearing FFP2 masks. As an example of further measures, I would like to mention PCR tests for holiday returnees.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

Lundberg: Our sales department was most affected. As a provider of mobile phone parking, we have faced and continue to face the daily challenge of convincing cities and municipalities of our solution via digital communication and distribution channels. An example: If necessary, we send a preconfigured iPad on loan to potential municipal interested parties in order to be able to present our solution in a web call. But this is the exception, not the rule. In other words, we find a very broad picture in sales regarding the degree of digitization in cities and municipalities.

How do you maintain your work, team and leadership culture?

Lundberg: I see consideration as the first and most important step for a successful working, team and leadership culture under the sign of COVID-19. Not everyone and not everyone copes equally well with the changes and restrictions, the situation feels equally burdensome. It is all the more important to see the people behind the employees, especially in such an exceptional situation. I think we’ve done a pretty good job in year one of the pandemic so far. It may sound clichéd: But our Swedish corporate culture also includes the fact that we like to celebrate together and that team harmony and work life balance have traditionally been of great importance to us.

We therefore began very early to set up virtual meetings and events that are not primarily about working through project plans and tasks, but primarily about team building, the personal exchange that usually takes place at the coffee machine, at lunch together or at the table tennis table. We do this locally, but also together with our colleagues in Sweden.

Does this really replace face-to-face togetherness?

LundbergWith all the optimism and openness to virtual Alternatives, I would say: no, it can’t. At least we have never played table tennis together virtually via app and do not spend lunch breaks together. Clearly, we lack that. For this, we can record as a success that with our mobile office infrastructure and the strict COVID-19 in-office rules of conduct, we have not been negatively affected by the pandemic and have not yet had to record any cases of infection in the company. Admittedly, this also includes luck, we do not have that in our hands alone. However, we can do our best to minimize risks and strive to minimize the burden on our team associated with the pandemic. If we succeed, much has already been achieved.

Your forecast for Post Corona: What will remain and how will we return to the usual forms of communication and working methods?

Lundberg: I would be careful to lump the song of songs on ” Alles findet henceforth online instead!“ sing. The pandemic has made us realize the hard way that not every business trip is actually required. As a positive side effect, web conferencing tools have established themselves across industries at a speed and degree of penetration due to the pandemic that would hardly have been possible with such an expensive marketing campaign. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the human factor.

All in the future in the home office? I believe: No, this is not the future. Screen time cannot replace personal contact, the emotional togetherness in a team. I believe that this does not meet the wishes and needs of the employees. The pandemic is a game changer in that topics such as compulsory attendance versus mobile office & home office will be addressed much more freely, much more open to discussion in many companies in the future – if you do not want to draw the short end to the Search for Talents.

Until when will the pandemic keep us busy?

Lundberg: I expect that – socially speaking-we will still feel the effects of the pandemic until at least the end of 2022. I suspect that by then we will see, on the one hand, a process of falling back into old patterns of behavior and communication – and, on the other hand, companies that, out of ostensible cost savings, tend to overturn the digitization screw.

For us as parksters, I can say that it is very important for us to return to a work normality in the post-COVID-19 era that also takes into account the social needs for closeness and togetherness of employees. We are a digital company. But we are not under the illusion that social contacts can only be mapped virtually. We were very successful in 2020 and virtually celebrated this as much as possible in the team. But I also feel that we in the team feel the need to make up for this in real life. And I promise: we will!

* Alexandra Mesmer: Career and management in IT is her favorite topic – and has been for over 20 years. Boring? No, she is always discovering new facets in the IT world of work and in her own job. She researches, writes, edits, moderates, plans and organizes.

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