How the coronavirus (did not) affect our company
We are a family business and each family takes exemplary care of its members even in the most difficult times. When the first cases of the virus began to appear in Europe, we informed employees about everything important connected with the disease. We educated them about improving personal hygiene and cancelled all foreign business trips.
We have taken various measures beyond government hygiene measures in order to protect the health of our employees and their families. We have developed so-called "Action Plan for Reducing the Risk of Infection", which has been in force since 12th March 2020 and is continuously updated according the current situation. The most important points of the Plan are:
- Wearing a mask inside the company premises. (This measure is not apply to employees who work together in one office who are at least 2 metres apart from each other nor does it apply to an employee who is alone in the workplace.)
- All internal/external meetings and business trips are replaced by telephone calls or teleconferences.
- Each office is a closed unit that has no direct physical contact with next-door offices and the door is closed.
- Necessary internal meetings can only take place with a minimum number of participants. There must be a distance of at least 2 meters (at least 1 free chair) between the 2 participants and the room must be sufficiently ventilated.
- A distance of at least 2 m must be observed during the personal communication.
- Group discussions in corridors, rooms and kitchens are not recommended.
- Staying in the kitchen must be reduced to the necessary minimum.
- All employees make a daily list of persons with whom they had personal contact for more than than 15 minutes per day (cumulatively).
- All departments have developed their own models of working time division in order to take all hygienic measures (e.g. morning and afternoon changes, alternating teams ...).
- The home office can be used by all employees who are allowed to do so by the nature of their work.
- The rules of flexible working time have been temporarily extended.
- Prioritizing the employees who take care of dependent children to take a vacation.
- Travelling of employees from several offices to work by one car is not recommended.
- An employee with symptoms of the disease contacts the local public health authority.
- If the employee has had contact with an infected person, he must notify his superior, who together with the personnel department decide the next steps.
- Adherence to all relevant hygiene measures.
Although the situation in Slovakia is improving, the number of infected people is increasing only in single digits, all above-mentioned measures are still valid in our company. They are released carefully. For example, since 3rd June, we have increased the number of people who can work in the office together, but we still keep a distance at least 2 meters and we ventilate regularly. The company's management assumes that during the June, 50 % of employees will work from the office again. The obligation to disinfect hands at the entrances was added with the increased number of employees in offices and all the employees have already used to wear the masks indoors.
Increased hygienic measures are also applied to production departments, which were moved to a new hall in Bytča at the beginning of the year. The masks that were given to employees has become part of the work clothes. The disinfection mat and hand disinfection were added at the entrance to the production hall. There are disinfection means placed also in kitchens, change-rooms and toilets. The whole hall is being regularly disinfected by Director of manufacturing and Managing Director – Dr. Peter Lazar.
The gathering of people in the dining room was minimized by dividing the lunch break for particular departments, and at the same time seating arrangement was created. Entry for external companies has been restricted, suppliers can only enter with the masks and gloves. An outdoor mobile toilet has been set up for truck drivers. Employees received packages of vitamins to support immunity. Personal communication among the departments is replaced by telephone or videoconferences. Even the trainings has begun to realize throught videoconferences. They were taken positively by the employees, because of saved time that would otherwise be spent by traveling. What was affected by the pandemic is the grand opening of the new hall by Dr. Norbert Miller, which should have taken place in May.
The pandemic has caused an economic crisis all over the world. Fortunately, we did not have to close our company for a single day. We did not even lay off in Slovakia. On the contrary, we are still looking for new employees to our software development and production teams.
From a business point of view, the last of the 4 business divisions (Signalling Systems, Fare Collection Systems, Fuel Retail Solutions a Parking Solutions) is the most affected – related to parking. It was the most affected by global travel restrictions and restrictions on free movement in individual countries. Our customers are careful in these uncertain times and new orders do not arrive in the volume we expected.
Therefore, the leadership of this division headed by Dr. Norbert Miller decided to take an unconventional step so that we do not have to disrupt jobs. All managers voluntarily gave up 10 % of their salary during the pandemic. Slovak employees of this division also showed a great gesture of solidarity. On their own initiative, they have committed themselves to unpaid overtime of 10 %. Hat down, they're our heroes!
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, employees have been regularly addressed by Dr. Norbert Miller, CEO, together with top management through so-called "UP2DATE". It is a speech in which the management informs and evaluates the current situation in all Scheidt & Bachmann branches worldwide – from the point of view of employee health, the company's financial condition and the business situation in each division.
"Only 4 from more than 3,000 employees worldwide have been infected by coronavirus (two in France and two in Germany). Today, everyone is healthy."
The Slovak management also regularly addresses to employees through email newsletters sent every week. They mainly inform about the update of hygienic measures or about the modifications of the measures that we have taken in our company.
Life in our country has slowed down. The offices have been emptied. Online communication has rocketed. Software and administrative employees who haven´t used work from home have tried it out. Some praise it, others miss their large monitor and office. All departments and teams have developed their own schedule of work and use of offices. Each team found a compromise that was agreed by all members. "Slovak management and I very much appreciate the maximum commitment and discipline of our employees during this period. I would also like to emphasize the high consideration of our people. Thanks to it, employees with small or school-age children were able to set up their work so that they would take care of the family and at the same time be able to work. In this example, we can see that the family is number one priority – that of our employees and company´s ones, too," says Ing. Katarína Veneny, HR Manager.