New Workstyle: Office days for the we-feeling

Since the beginning of September, Collenda has been working hybrid (in the Netherlands, due to legal requirements, colleagues will only start after September 24). The rule of thumb is to be present in the office for at least two days; the rest of the time can be spent in the home office. Group HR Director Sandrine Zitt explains in an interview how the implementation has gone so far – and reveals the plans for the future.

Collenda moved to the home office early in the pandemic …
Sandrine Zitt That’s right, Collenda reacted quickly right at the beginning of the pandemic. Within a short time, around 95% of all colleagues were working from home without any restrictions. During this time, they were allowed to take their equipment with them, i.e. computer, keyboard, mouse, webcam, in some cases two monitors and, if desired, roll containers. So we were fully functional remotely very quickly.

What worked well?
Sandrine Zitt From my point of view, our onboarding process worked very well – in addition to the day-to-day work. Since March 1, 2020, we have hired almost 50 employees in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In addition, knowledge transfer within the company has been optimized via the CollendAcademy, which was newly created in May 2021. Workshops are held in the form of webinars on topics such as the credit lifecycle and our products. During the Corona period, our colleagues also undertook many virtual activities together, such as after-work meetings, a joint European Championship betting game, or encounters in the digital Escape Room.

What was difficult?
Sandrine Zitt It’s not so easy in a home office to get a feeling for interpersonal relationships and the corporate culture. Of course, this is especially true for new employees. The informal exchange, the conversation at the coffee machine or at the lunch table, that’s missing. In our view, a sense of belonging is very important.

It’s not as easy to get a feel for the interpersonal and company culture in a home office. 

Since the beginning of September, Collenda has been working hybrid. What does that mean?
Sandrine Zitt Before we launched our New Work style, we asked our employees how they would like to work in the future. The most important arguments for working in an office were: better opportunities for teamwork and project work, and the We-feeling. On the basis of the survey, in which 74% of our employees took part, we decided to introduce hybrid working throughout the Group in the future. This means being present in the office at least two days a week.

The working environment in the office has been adapted to the new conditions?
Sandrine Zitt That’s right, we have set up fixed desks and shared desks. The fixed desks are reserved for colleagues who are present every day. However, this only affects about 5% of the workforce. The shared desks can be booked via an app programmed by our IT department. Of the total of around 180 workstations at our sites in Germany and the Netherlands, around 50% can now be used in compliance with a hygiene concept. We will of course provide self-tests, masks and disinfectants, and all workstations booked will be disinfected daily. In addition, we will also set up personal compartments where all personal work equipment (keyboard, mouse, headset, etc) can be stored. We have ordered additional monitors so that the employees can work under the best conditions both in the office and in the home office, especially with 2 monitors also on the shared desks for only 2 days in the office.

In other words, there are already more encounters now?
Sandrine Zitt Yes, first of all, of course, in everyday office life. In addition, there are events that we have planned, for example a come-together, where we have hired a food truck – as we did in July after our new hires meeting. There will also be more opportunities to meet again in the future, for example in our fitness room. Also planned, as in the past, is the possibility for massage appointments.

Does this affect all departments?
Sandrine Zitt Our sales executives or consultants, who in the future will again be able to be deployed on site with customers to a greater extent, are currently working completely in their home offices in some cases.

Will there be a review at some point to see whether the implemented model is working well?
Sandrine Zitt Of course, we are already trying to gain an impression of how the new concept is being received. And we observe that most colleagues are satisfied with the arrangement. Many are happy to see each other again. After 4-6 weeks, we will conduct a survey to check the status quo; there will be another survey after three months. After that, we will readjust if necessary.

Would this regulation be adjusted if, for example, incidence numbers increase?
Sandrine Zitt Since we were able to make an offer to vaccinate our employees in July together with our company physician, we prepared for the possible return in the office early enough. The incidence is no longer a decisive factor for us. Furthermore, the hygiene concept that we implemented early on still applies. We would, of course, adapt our regulation if the state or federal government made corresponding specifications.


About the interviewee

Sandrine Zitt has been Group Human Resources Director at Collenda since April 2021. More about Sandrine

Sandrine klein


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