Mariella Gradler

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Can junior staff work well from home?

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Deutsche Telekom was very quick to enact precautionary, preventive measures oriented to the pandemic. The Group Situation Center, and a number of its crisis-response teams, have stayed in constant contact with relevant public health institutions, such as the Robert Koch Institute, and have been keeping Group staff abreast of the latest developments. In mid-March, working from home was recommended for all staff from a number of areas, including administrative areas, whose responsibilities lent themselves to remote working and who had the necessary technical resources. We junior staff were among those seen as candidates for mobile work. Is it compatible with cooperative study programs and vocational training courses?

I'm a student on a cooperative study program with Deutsche Telekom, and I have to say I'm not used to working from home. Normally, I go into the office five days per week. I work together with my colleagues there, and I get to chat with them and take my lunch breaks with them. The pandemic has changed all that. As part of efforts to minimize infection risks, we junior staff have also been urged to work from home.

As a member of an international team, I'm used to working in a virtual group. At the same time, I've grown accustomed to being able to see my Bonn-based colleagues and my Business Expert in person nearly every day. Being able to see those people in person makes it easy to confer and coordinate with them. Now, the pandemic has hampered that kind of interaction. We have had to restructure and reorganize.

But has working from home been working for you?

Tastatur, Laptop und Bildschirm im Homeoffice

My set up workplace during mobile work.

During the first two weeks, I had to make some major adjustments. I'm among the many of us who lack a spare room at home that we can turn into a home office. So, I've converted a corner of my living room into a dedicated workspace. It's a place where I can concentrate, and it enables me to keep my private and working lives separate. Fortunately, I already had a large monitor that I can connect to my laptop. Wherever possible, I've tried to recreate my office environment and to stick to my tried-and-true working habits. I knew that I needed to maintain my clear separation between work and the rest of my life. My efforts to maintain a good work-life balance also include trying to stick to a regular schedule for my lunch breaks 😉.

It's taken me a while to get used to the virtual meetings that I now have with my colleagues. For our team, these include twice-daily 15-minute online "coffee breaks." We meet in a virtual "break room" to chat and enjoy each other's company.

The Telekom Vocational Training department has provided some special support for junior staff during this time. Because the whole situation was completely new, especially for junior staff, our program advisors have been checking in with us nearly every day. My program advisor calls me to see how I’m doing – if I need any extra support, and if the virtual collaboration with my team is working the way it should.

Our program advisors have helped us optimize our remote working setups, and they've stayed constantly available to provide assistance whenever we've needed it.

Following my adjustment phase, remote working has become very normal. Whenever I have questions about my work, I call one of my colleagues. On my monitor, I use a split-screen view that greatly facilitates online discussion and joint work on questions and problems.

Yes, the whole situation is new, for me as a student on a cooperative study program, but I've been able to handle it well with the help of my program advisor and my team. Over time, I've gotten used to working from home, and working from home works just fine for me now. Still, I look forward to the day when I can go into the office again and see my colleagues in person. It's great to have an employer who encourages and facilitates flexibility in our working situations.