Many colleagues are currently working in their home offices, exchanging information by telephone or video conferencing. Nevertheless, we still lack the opportunity to meet other colleagues simply in the hallway or in the kitchen. That’s why we are shifting “hallway conversations” to the digital. Today we introduce Anja Seehrich from the Personnel and Social Affairs Department.

What are you working on right now?

Like most of my colleagues from the HR department, I’m currently working in the home office. My tasks have remained the same: I take care of personnel matters, for example new hires or contract renewals. I am also the contact person for the “Office for Work and Life”. All employees who have questions about compatibility can contact me.

Are there more questions about work-life balance issues during the Corona period than usual?

We definitely get more enquiries. Among other things, employees are asking what the conditions are for taking the special leave for childcare during the Corona pandemic. Other colleagues turn to us because they have to look after relatives in need of care and the carer can no longer come or is ill. Our service provider benefit@work has set up free advice hotlines for HZB staff and offers webinars where you can get lots of practical tips for this time. I can really recommend this!

What is your impression: Are most colleagues dealing well with the situation?

I have the impression that working from home has “grooved” in the meantime, many of them are managing to structure their everyday life better than they did a few weeks ago. It is certainly also helpful that we have not only been thinking about work-life balance issues at HZB since the Corona crisis. We are now benefiting from the fact that we have already launched many support services in previous years, such as home office, teleworking and flexible working hours. Many employees have also practised home office before, so that working in remote and IT access were not an obstacle.

What is the biggest challenge for you?

In the beginning, my work phone was forwarded to my mobile phone around the clock, my laptop was always on so that I could quickly answer an e-mail. After a while I realized that I had to draw a clearer line between work and free time and structured my day better. This helps me to be able to switch off at the end of the day.

A completely different challenge for me is the fact that I am currently supporting my sister in the homeschooling of my seven-year-old niece together with the whole family. I’m trying my hand at English and art via Zoom. I would have imagined teaching a first grader much easier, I have a lot of respect for what teachers and many parents have to do now!

What are you looking forward to when the time is over again?

I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues again and simply having a lunch break with them. I would be very pleased if the acceptance of flexible work arrangements could be maintained even after the Corona crisis, because we have all seen in the last weeks how well they work on the whole. I am also very much looking forward to meetings with friends and family, to open beer gardens, cinemas and concerts and to travelling, even if that will certainly have to wait a while.

Questions by Silvia Zerbe.