Becoming Germany's best employer with sustainable realignment in the new normal

There is hardly a company that has not been confronted with major challenges as a result of Covid-19 and the effects of the pandemic. What was tentatively announced at the beginning of 2020 overtook us with a tremendous force within a few weeks - deserted offices, empty streets and restaurants, uncertainty and fear among people. From one day to the next, we had to reorganize everything - our daily work routine, meetings, work-life balance.

Be proactive in shaping the new normal

Like any other company, we faced a crossroads in the spring - just react passively to the fast pace of change or proactively help shape the new normal?

We consciously chose the latter, deciding that rather than just creating a temporary solution to the pandemic and lockdown, we would combine the acute situation with long-term market trends around modern collaborative ways of working and initiate a forward-looking change process that would impact our entire corporate culture.

As part of the digital economy, at least hardware equipment and digital tools were not a problem for us. But we quickly realized that the challenges could not be solved simply with a few extra laptops and webcams, and that a sustainable change process had to go deeper. That's why, after initially equipping our colleagues with technology in their home offices, we put a new focus on our meeting culture, eventually even incorporating a remote-first approach into our corporate strategy. This means that we are obliged to think of our colleagues and customers in the home office or at other locations first. In the future, a meeting will no longer begin with setting up the video and audio equipment while office colleagues start sharing, but will start well prepared and on time for all participants equally. Project content and documentation are available to everyone to the same extent. Post-Its can also be stuck virtually, and for the exchange of ideas the screen can also serve as a whiteboard. To make this possible, we are developing new standards in the project workflow and investing in tools and hardware in our offices and at our colleagues' homes.

Digital solutions for all areas

And we've also had to rethink other business processes. We designed sales and marketing formats with digital solutions and, for example, conducted a webinar for the launch of our new product "SCIP-Sales" for the insurance industry and further expanded our collaborations with external partners, even in the remote phase, through an insurtech study with the Hamburg School of Business Administration. We successfully launched sum.talk, a podcast series and platform for exchanging ideas with industry experts on digitization topics and current challenges.

Working from the home office and our new solutions worked very well. Meetings became more timely and efficient. Meetings and work results were documented together. All project formats in agile collaboration with our customers and partners were successfully mapped. We could rely on the availability of our colleagues and the teams and each individual made their contribution responsibly and reliably. By eliminating travel time and switching to virtual events and meetings, we were able to improve our efficiency and thus increase our margins.

Also realigning social togetherness

But we have learned one thing above all this year: to invest in our employees. After all, good cooperation in difficult times only works with a corporate culture in which employees feel comfortable, support each other and do not have the feeling that they are being left alone with their current problems. For this reason, we placed just as much emphasis on not only digitally mapping work processes, but also on redesigning social interaction. Instead of taking place in our offices, we continued to offer sports activities, but on our own yoga mats in the home office. We set up a virtual sum.cumo Kidsclub for our children and implemented additional family-friendly events such as making gingerbread houses together. Team events were thought up in new formats - from a virtual gin tasting to our remote Christmas party with its own film set and lavish catering to each of our Kolleg:innen's front door.

Developing together

The crisis has brought us closer together digitally and this year has shown us even more clearly that we look for each other, invest time and after-work can also work digitally. This is also reflected in an award that we are particularly pleased about this year - after receiving the Best Workplace Award from kununu in the middle of the year, we were surprised shortly before the end of the year to make it to first place as Best Employer 2020!

For 2021, we are also taking it upon ourselves to continue to identify challenges early on and proactively shape them. We have aligned ourselves as a company to ensure that we are also well positioned next year. Although we face the challenge right at the start of 2021 that a large number of employees will still be taking residual vacation from this year, we will certainly come up with a clever solution for this too - even if it's VR glasses and a cocktail package for that Caribbean feeling at home!