April 2021

Office culture - One year remote: the revue

A gif that alternately shows various offices of HENKELHIEDL.

For more than 12 months, many things have changed, but in the meantime also the much-cited »new normal«. In 12 snippets on the topic, we tell you what we have experienced along the way and what tasks still need to be tackled.

Remote Office Culture

»Theoffice« – especially at home – is both a privilege and a challenge. If we don't meet in meetings or team rounds via video, it's everyone for themselves. This means that an important part of the office culture as we knew it is disappearing: in the kitchens, in the courtyard, at breakfast/lunch together, all the acclamations, gestures and facial expressions – the spontaneous after-work drink.
So far, so (more than well) known to many of you. We set out to find solutions...

  • How do we develop a sustainable attitude towards ourselves in order to support each other regardless of the location?
  • How can we release more emotional energy than we use in such a flexible organisation, even without physical proximity?
  • How can fluid working time and location models be combined with the everyday realities of our customers and the different needs of our employees?

Partly we have found these solutions, partly we are still fine-tuning them. An exemplary process of our basic evolutionary attitude. The result then becomes our new normal. Until the next turn.

Remote Sounds

Gif on the subject of remote sound at henkelhiedl.com

What does home office actually sound like? Maybe like this.

Remote Induction

Judith Rohrer joined the team as a developer on February 1st 21. How does it feel to become part of an office at home?

»With an induction mentor, it was a super friendly and uncomplicated start to my new job. In the meantime, I'm becoming more and more agile in the workflows and find my voice heard when I notice potential for optimisation here and there. Henkelhiedl is definitely open to new people and new things and the team supports me in quickly forgetting the initial uncertainty in a new work area and getting started with motivation. In between, there's another nice way of getting to know colleagues with coffee over Slack.«

Remote Videoweirdness

When the desktop background becomes one with the Slack video call window.

Remote Project Work

Source: myfelt @ Instagram

As far as relationships with clients are concerned, the last year has been surprising: over time, our project work has turned into more collaboration and partnership than ever before. We now work more closely together 'on average' and involve clients more intensively. The more interfaces we use, such as Slack Connect, Miro, Jira, Teams, Google Workspace and video conferencing, the closer the collaboration with them.

Whereas local and physical proximity to them/you used to be high on the list of selection criteria for an agency, and – if that wasn't possible – travel expenses were long and expensive, in the new digital self-image of EVERYONE we grow together much more naturally into a collaborative project team, we are real sparring partners and not just the agency in the email box.

»The cooperation with HENKELHIEDL also works excellently digitally, even though we could meet on site in Berlin. And by excellent cooperation I don't just mean the project result itself, but also the way to get there, so that transparent, digital communication already feels like a success.« - Aaron Freitag, myfelt GmbH

Remote Workshops

Gif showing an example of working with the browser-based tool Miro

Post-its that don't last longer than 4 hours on the wall are a yesterday's problem. Thanks to tools like Miro, we can not only transfer everything we normally do in analogue form into digital form, but also continue to develop the projects on the board. This makes interim statuses and results very comprehensible. That's a clear advantage, because even our workshop walls don't offer that.

Remote Work

Gif with screenshots of projects created in early 2021 at HENKELHIEDL

The practical work has not suffered from the overall situation. This is shown by the projects that have emerged in the course of the last few months – in addition to the many permanent activities for DB Schenker, DB Cargo, Rittal & Co.


Remote Internships

Webcam shot of Alicia Zimmermann at the office of HENKELHIEDL

Alicia Zimmermann started an internship in the design team with us in late summer 2020. Here she tells us how it felt for her.

»Sure, I had doubts at the beginning whether it was the best idea to start an internship at the moment, but I would do it again just the same. At the beginning there were a few more people in the office and I could still meet some faces there for the first time. Then everyone was in the home office and the spontaneous meeting at the coffee machine was cancelled. So it took more initiative.

I found the Monday and Wednesday meetings, where the whole team is present, very helpful. This way I get to know a lot more about the people I'm not working with on a project. I'm looking forward to getting to know a bit more of the former ›everyday life‹ at some point and that's why I'm very happy that I'm staying at Henkelhiedl.«

Webcam recording of Sarah Kiss

»My internship here started in April, completely in the home office,« says Sarah Kiss, who is currently doing an internship in the design team. »Like Alicia, I was unsure how it would work under the current circumstances. Before I started, I had a conversation with her as a previous intern, in which she told me about her experiences and the situation here. That helped me immensely in my decision to do the internship at Henkelhiedl. I can only agree with her positive tone.

Most of the faces I know so far only through a screen, and yes, personal contact is harder to make, but everyone is open, friendly and helpful and I am all the more happy about the nice faces I meet ›in real life‹ in the office.«

Screenshot of the website Islands Of Time, created by HENKELHIEDL for the Miller-Zillmer Foundation
Screenshot of the Humanletter website, created by HENKELHIEDL for the Miller-Zillmer Foundation

By the way: Shortly before the end of her internship, Alicia not only created two cool microsites (Islands Of Time & Humanletter) for the Miller-Zillmer Foundation and also technically implemented in Webflow, but also decided to stay with us after her internship. No pressure, Sarah! ;)

(Addendum a few months later: Sarah also stayed with us, woohoo!)

Remote Subtitles

If the weekly office video round should be a bit tough: Just switch on the live subtitles at Meet and watch how Google is overwhelmed with the real-time translation from DEU to ENG. 2021, part of the future, ey. After all, it's funny.

Remote Mood 2020

Bar chart as a mood picture with the question of how much time the colleagues would like to spend in the home office in percentage terms

As early as June 2020, we launched a survey to find out how many of our colleagues would like to see home office as a fixed part of their everyday working life, even apart from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and occasional special cases.

Remote Sentiment 2021

Bar chart as a mood picture with the question of how much time the colleagues would like to spend in the home office in percentage terms

We repeated the survey in April 2021. There are small changes, a larger team above all, but home office as an important part of the new DNA of HENKELHIEDL is clearly confirmed. Which brings us back to the topic of office culture and cohesion. Challenge accepted!

Remote After Work Video Beer

Yes, of course we also met for an after-work drink in the video chat from time to time. It wasn't easy to get the group going. It helped to rattle off keywords from A-Z and be amazed at how many anecdotes the team could come up with about A for Aachen and Z for Zoolander.

The office trivia quiz evening was also very entertaining. Would you like to take part?

1. How many messages have we written to each other via Slack since its launch?
a) 138,266?
b) 381,266?
c) 38.22?
d) 83.266?

2. The funniest spelling of HENKELHIEDL that has actually occurred so far ?
a) Henkel & Hiedel
b) Hinkelheidel
c) Schenkel & Fiedel
d) EnkelSchniedl

The solution to 1: The first letter of the name of the first named city on this page.
The solution to 2: The penultimate letter of the last word in the last sentence, which begins with "A bell...".
on this page.

For Christmas we gave everyone a cookbook. As a (weak) substitute for no longer having lunch together. But not everyone got the same one.
What the team doesn't know yet is that we will soon be starting joint cooking rounds. Everyone (who wants to and has time) cooks the same dish and then eats together. We exchange recipes beforehand. That way we can also gather inspiration from those books that the person in question didn't get.
(Let's see which of us internally reads this newsletter attentively and is the first to react enthusiastically, because the team doesn't know anything yet. Remote announcements 2.0.)

Bon appétit, stay healthy and: see you soon!

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