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Jens Alberts

Corona Study

The impact of the corona pandemic on work processes in the EMU administration

As part of the "Getrost Vergessen" project, an interview study was conducted in May and June 2020 on the impact of the corona pandemic on work processes within the EMU administration. The aim of the study was to systematically survey and better understand the impact of the corona pandemic on work processes within the WWU administration. The study addressed challenges and difficulties as well as best practices and positive experiences, not least with a view to future developments. A total of 46 interviews were conducted with staff from all departments and various staff units of the EMU. 25 interviewees were female, 21 male. The average length of employment in the EMU administration was 9 years. Overall, the interviews reported both positive and negative changes in work and work processes.

1) Home-Office:

Positive: Reduction of travel time, better reconciliation of work and private life, more rest and fewer interruptions at work, more flexibility through an extension of the working time framework, less stress, improved image of the topic "home office".

Negative: Problems of reconciling work and private life (especially with children), higher stress and more distraction in the home office, lack of day structure, some aspects of work are not possible in the home office, higher resource consumption and poorer ergonomics in the home office

Wishes: Critical examination of the topic of "home office" (what has proven to be successful, what has not), continued relaxation of regulations, structural measures for child care, rethinking workplace and room concepts (e.g. desk sharing)

2) Zoom

Positive: Time efficiency (no travel time), productive exchange, many useful functions, orderly flow of conversation, resource-saving, innovative, well suited for factual topics and occasions

Negative: More elaborate preparation, restrained discussions, strenuous and demanding (concentration), more frequent misunderstandings and more difficult to deal with, lack of eye contact & body language, not very suitable for emotional topics and occasions

Wishes: Continue to use zoom, but differentiate when zoom is really useful

3) Digitalization push

Positive: improvement of technical equipment and software use (RemoteDesktop, UC, Confluence Tool, Mattermost), networking within and between departments, development of expertise in topics such as digital teaching, digitization of documents

Negative: Technical equipment is still in need of improvement, differences in digital competence, changes were often only perceived as temporary so that the effort involved was questionable, questions of data security

Wishes: further digitization, improve technical equipment

4) Cooperation

Positive: Stronger structuring of cooperation, greater efficiency of agreements, greater transparency

Negative: Personal contacts ("just go over there", radio, "open door principle") were missing, poorer accessibility of colleagues, leading and being led is different or more difficult at a distance

Wishes: Enable personal contacts, improve cooperation by defining target processes and standardizing information and decision paths

5) Flexibility

Positive: The attitude "that's the way we've always done it, that's the way we're going to do it now" was broken through, willingness & openness for new ways of working, sensible new ideas for work ("born out of necessity"), change of view on the topic "home office", higher flexibility than administration, grown trust in each other and increased self-responsibility

Wishes: Maintain flexibility & openness, initiate further sensible and well-thought-out changes, check changes experienced positively for continuity

In a next step, a second survey wave at the end of the year will examine which of the impulses and changes that were initiated were maintained over the long term, at which points a return to previous routines occurred, and what was helpful in the changes that were implemented.