Home office. Did you know that this supposedly English word is, in fact, a so-called "New-German" term, which means it does not even exist in the English language? Our English-speaking colleagues at WiseTech in Sydney call it Work From Home (WFH).
Homeworking is known in the region of Basel, where my home and office are located, since the beginning of the 18th century. The home production of silk ribbons started the beginning of the industrialisation of the canton Baselland. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were still more than 1,200 weaving looms operated in farmhouses in the canton Baselland, ensuring the farmers an additional income. In the middle of the 19th century, this became the basis for the chemical industry in Basel (initially for the dying of the silk ribbons!). But now to the insight into one of my WFH weeks.
One Monday in April 2020:
Well, my Monday is a meeting day as usual: 8.30 a.m. Skype meeting with Jacqueline Birchler; 9.00 a.m. virtual Skype coffee break with the sales team, in which Stefan Spörri reports about his voluntary work where he did some shopping for residents of a retirement home (read also his Home Story), using the time that is provided by SISA for Corono neighbourhood help; 9.30 a.m. weekly Skype Management Meeting; 11 a.m. Skype Meeting Declare-it with Jürg Zellmeyer; 2 p.m. Skype Meeting SISA Corona Taskforce - no new measures, no SISA employee affected by the virus (This is fortunately still valid up to this day); 4 p.m. short meeting via Skype due to an escalating employee situation - yes, even work from home has interpersonal conflict potential; 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. further Skype meetings. However, on this Monday I still wanted to do some work, so I am finally getting to that part.
In fact, this is just a regular working day. As our younger daughter Andrea, then 14 years old, once said to my wife Evelyn after a day she spent in my office: "Daddy doesn't work properly. He's only in meetings and on the phone all day...". Therefore, I will refrain from giving you further details about my "working week".
Instead, Iwant to share some thoughts on work from home. Is it just the transition of work to home, along with the attempt to maintain social contacts? Or is this THE new approach with a lot of potential (also after Corona)? I do not know, but let us look back to the ribbon weavers. The Basel chemical industry later became the pharmaceutical industry. Today this is called "Life Science" (another "New-German" word) and is the largest value-added factor in the region of Northwestern Switzerland.
From home-based work to life science - is the strong development of work from home as a result of COVID-19 a milestone on the way to a new working world and society? Well, my wife sees me far more often now than she did befoe I started working from home - and yes, we are still together (a big thank you to Evelyn). We enjoy the short lunches in the sun in our garden. I have never been able to enjoy the cherry blossoms right in front of our home as much as in 2020. Also, our rabbit Timmy is enjoying springtime as well as the horses of the nearby farm - at least they do not care about work from home.
And yes, it is difficult to only see my 94-year-old mother rarely (she does not like Skype), and to hardly meet our daughters Andrea and Dominique. Having a "dad who does not work properly", they decided to study something useful. Due to COVID-19, Dominique as a pharmacist can currently not complain about the lack of work and Andrea is just finishing her master studies with home learning. A new form of further education.
Another result of Corona is my slightly wild hairstyle - however, you should really see Mrs. Müller's in our village ;-) ! Also because of that, I am looking forward to more contact (also to the hairdresser) being possible in the near future.
And then having more contact again to family, employees and after all to you as a customer. All this in a society that is currently experiencing a certain reorientation.
It does not necessarily have to be a new pharmaceutical industry. Mutual support and helpfulness despite and thanks to work from home as well as the targeted use of IT tools - that is still something!
Stay healthy and the best wishes from my home office in beautiful Baselbiet!
Autor: Roland Schumacher
Funktion: Managing Director