Björn Viergutz, founder and CEO of Juvigo, talks about home office in an interview with Evelyn Sander from fvw | TravelTalk. Read the full interview to find out how Juvigo was doing before the Covid-19 pandemic, what the current status is and what the future holds.
You can find the article published in fvw | TravelTalk here: Mobile work – tourism professionals are pioneers in home office.
What is the current situation with home office at Juvigo?
At Juvigo, we were already technically very well positioned before the outbreak of the pandemic, so that the entire team could work from home without any problems. Of course, we implemented this immediately with the first lockdown in March 2020. We really didn’t have to develop or set up anything new for this, as our telephone system, for example, runs completely via the computers. Our working time recording has also always run completely digitally and can be used in the home office as well. This is a point that is particularly important to me. Because from the employee’s point of view, one of the great advantages of office work is the clear separation of work and private life in terms of time and space. We want to maintain this as well as possible in the home office with the help of time recording.
In addition, every employee should have exactly the same technical equipment at home as in the office. All employees therefore take everything home with them, or we bring it over: laptop, monitors, keyboard, mouse, headset and, of course, the office chair if required.
Was home office already a common working model at your company before Corona?
Before Corona, home office was not a big issue for us. However, it was possible to work from home at any time, for example, when colleagues had to let tradesmen into their homes, when doctors’ appointments were within working hours, or when they were expecting deliveries from freight forwarders. We were always very flexible in that respect. Only one colleague had a fixed home office day per week. I have to admit that I had a rather conservative attitude towards home office before. I still prefer to communicate in the shortest possible way directly in the office and face-to-face – but the situation has increased my trust in the entire team and it works really well.
What do you see as the biggest challenges of home office in terms of communication, motivation and creative work?
I actually don’t see any ultimate challenges at all – but our purely digital business model also favors the possibility of home office. Of course, I’m on the phone a lot now to discuss tasks and how to proceed, but that works really well. If anything, I notice that communication is faster and more direct. Before, if someone brought something to my attention, I passed it on to the colleague responsible. Now the right colleague is often addressed directly.
I also don’t have the feeling that the team’s motivation is suffering as a result. On the contrary, the crisis has taught me to hand over even more responsibility and to really trust my employees. Everyone knows their tasks, takes on more and more responsibility, and this benefits both the company and the employees personally. A very fundamental part of our corporate culture is to place a lot of trust in young colleagues and to encourage and strengthen them in their development. I have noticed that this responsibility motivates the young people. Of course, this only works if they are always supported in the process and don’t feel left alone! But I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that!
But what I miss in all this time is the personal contact at events like the ITB. Normally, we regularly meet our organizer partners all over Germany and Europe, take a look at the accommodations on site and get to know the people behind them. Of course, that’s completely eliminated now, but we’re looking forward to it all the more when it’s possible again.
What will happen with your home office after Corona?
We can already see that a large part of the team likes to come to the office, and we have to send colleagues home. But some like to be at home a few days a week, and I won’t stand in the way of that after the pandemic. I think it’s nice if everyone is still in the office at least one day a week. I think that we will establish this rule as soon as normality has returned and one can speak of an “end of Corona”.