The corona pandemic has the world as we know it completely turned around and both ordinary citizens and companies have had to adapt over the past year, repeatedly. Working from home has for many become the norm, and especially during periods of high infection the contribution of Danes working from home has been crucial, enabling us as a society to balance the interests of public health with the need to keep the wheels turning.
I am convinced that working from home will continue to play a major role in Danish working life, even after we hopefully soon pry ourselves from the iron grip of corona aided by the vaccine roll-out. Several large companies have announced a desire for further home working initiatives in the future and this, to my mind, makes a lot of sense.
Employees avoid long commutes to work, and it appears that we are more effective working from home. At the same time, the corona pandemic has shown us that the technological infrastructure is in place. In record time we have become masters in everything from Teams meetings to webinars, and suddenly it is now quite natural to talk together digitally with the web cam on.
At the same time, IT programs are being developed to support the digital work. In the Development and HR department we have, on the recommendation of DFDS, recently acquired the program Mural to support the holding of digital workshops. The program is also used in strategy implementation and the AEGIS project (Read more about AEGIS project here).
Although increased home-working by many parameters been a success story, naturally it has not been without challenges. These include everything from neck tension and migraines caused by poor posture to loneliness due to a lack of social interaction.
We take these challenges very seriously at Port of Aalborg. As a core element of the infrastructure, not only in Denmark, but also the North Atlantic, it has been vital, right from the start of the lockdown in March last year, that we continued to be fully operational. And this is only possible if our employees stay healthy both physically and mentally.
Therefore, in addition to redesigning work processes at the port, focusing on adequate distancing of the employees where a physical presence is essential to the operation, we have launched several initiatives and measures targeting both the physical and social challenges associated with increased home-working for our office personnel.
Specifically, we are in full swing providing height-adjustable tables, office chairs and computer screens that match the set-up in the office, to all employees, so they can sit correctly. Since the start of the year, we have also introduced virtual morning exercise in collaboration with a physiotherapist.
We have also implemented a so-called buddy scheme, acknowledging that we lack good conversations e.g., at the coffee machine, even though we hold virtual meetings and are in daily contact by phone. Under the buddy scheme, all employees were offered a personal buddy with whom they could discuss everyday issues, big and small, over a virtual cup of coffee or perhaps during a walk in nature, either using earphones or together, if they live close by. We have also provided a grant to the staff association to be used for e.g., virtual events such as wine tasting.
In other words, we are constantly improving at being together in new ways, and presumably technological developments will only accelerate this trend in the future. This does not mean that we should not meet physically at all when we emerge on the other side of the corona pandemic. Rather, we must get used to not seeing all our colleagues in person every day and that such activities as hybrid meetings, where some people attend physically and others digitally, will become quite natural in the future.
I believe it will be quite normal for many employees to opt for working from home several days a week, and we are close to finding models for organising this properly. The past year has provided a wealth of experience to draw upon, so we can ensure a win-win scenario for both the employees and the company.