When the Corona crisis with its lockdown reached Germany in mid-March, many employers were faced with major challenges. TÜV Rheinland also acted decisively and with great caution. From one day to the next, as in most other companies, almost all employees were sent home to continue working from there. The safety and protection of the workforce was the top priority.


In this situation, there was no time to ask “why” when it came to the topic of working from home, but only “how”? Suddenly it didn’t matter whether managers or employees thought it was good or bad to work from home. What mattered, however, was the infrastructure. Laptops, network access, video conferencing systems and much more had to be functional. A big compliment to our IT department, for whom all these issues were fortunately not new territory. The transition from office to home office went smoothly in most cases.

Home Office + Remote Work + Childcare – Challenge accepted

I had worked regularly from home before Corona, so I was already used to it. But such a long time without colleagues, without the face-to-face contact and the little chat over a cup of coffee in the kitchen – that was quite strange. And I missed it a lot.
Organizing work in remote teams is a little more difficult than on site. Especially when procedures and processes have to be adapted. In this case, a little bit is lost because everyone has to get back on track again. And the sentence “Oh, now that I see you…” – I haven’t heard that for months.

Our advantage was certainly that the majority of the colleagues were already familiar with working remotely. Working with communication tools such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype was therefore largely already known. In this way, we definitely succeeded very well in keeping in touch with each other even at a distance.

As practical as the tools and home office were – in these very difficult times, caring for children and elderly relatives in addition to work presented us with great challenges. Phone calls with children screaming in the background were probably the most harmless aspect of this. The strain was already immense, both for parents and for the children. I have often read that working from home and childcare cannot be combined. Sure, it’s not ideal. The same thing applied from now on: it has to work. To do this, however, I had to arrange my time a little differently. Instead of having a quiet breakfast in the morning, a coffee was just sipped in a hurry and the first e-mails were answered immediately. And to make the most of the child-free time in the morning, the alarm clock rang an hour earlier. The same had to be done in the evening after the children were in bed. Only that instead of coffee there was a glass with a cold drink next to the laptop.

Back in the office and yet everything is different as before

Since July I have been back in the office for a few days a week. Going back and believing everything would be the same – impossible. The hygiene regulations have to be adhered to strictly: reporting lists, masks in the elevator, distance between desks. In open-plan offices, many workplaces cannot be used at all. Neither can all colleagues come at the same time. Internal coordination works better if the teams coordinate who stays at home when and who goes to the office on which day.

The first time back in the office was – and I can’t say it any differently – strange at first. After such a long time in a state of emergency the return felt different than, for example, after a holiday. And that was not only because of the corona protection measures and colleagues who were unrecognizable at first sight under the mask. For me, the strangest thing was to encounter half-empty floors, offices, and corridors. The parking lot is still much emptier than usual. When walking into the canteen, there is – also because of the hygiene regulations and distance rules – not yet the typical crowd at rush hours. It all still feels a little unreal. So we haven´t reached normality yet.

The best of both worlds – the right blend

I am glad to be back, but I wouldn’t want to miss the home office completely. What I have noticed is: Thanks to Remote Work, larger meetings have become much less frequent. Especially presence appointments. And in my opinion, online meetings have a clearer focus on the essentials. There is no more small talk or overflowing rounds of introductions, which saves us a lot of time.

As so often in life, it’s the combination that does it. Above all, I am glad to see my colleagues again. Furthermore, it is important to get back into a normal rhythm. In the future, I will continue to enjoy sitting at my laptop in my pyjamas in the morning with my first coffee and not having to worry about shaving, hairstyle, and clothing. But then I’ll know that I’m going back to the office the next day and I’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of work and time much more.


Andy Fuchs

Andy Fuchs


Andy Fuchs is team leader in the area of personnel marketing and responsible for the employer image of TÜV Rheinland. Since communication with applicants is increasingly taking place on different social media channels, posting, sharing, chirping and blogging are also a major part of his daily work. Born in East Westphalia, he moved to Cologne 15 years ago, where the joie de vivre of the Rhinelanders in general and the people of Cologne in particular initially seemed like a small culture shock. In the meantime, however, a life without the cathedral, Rhine and carnival is hardly imaginable for him.

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