In 2020, Europe’s largest employer assessment platform kununu, together with the magazine Freundin, again evaluated companies in terms of family friendliness, work-life balance, feel-good factors and equal career opportunities. AOE is once again among the top companies in the list, placing second in the Internet industry – an award of which we are very proud, especially given the special conditions this year. After all, with the permanent remote work situation, coupled with closed schools and daycare centers, the impact of COVID-19 exacerbated what had already been a challenge before: the compatibility of family and job. Many of our employees had to reorganize their lives within a very short time this spring: Suddenly, family, work and education all took place under one roof and had to be coordinated in terms of time, space and resources. Let us illustrate how AOE as a company has supported its employees during this time.
The award continues the trend from previous years: in 2019, AOE took first place in the Internet industry ranking; and the years before first place in the kununu employer ranking in the Internet and multimedia industry and second place in the kununu ranking of employers with the best work-life balance. But what makes AOE a family-friendly company – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Within just two days, we moved from a company that was mainly on-site in the office to almost 100 percent remote. We made the switch as simple and uncomplicated as possible for our employees. Work materials such as monitors could be taken along without any bureaucratic effort. Our teams organize themselves independently, so it was never a problem if employees’ working hours had to be adjusted due to their personal situation – for example, because of childcare at home.
Since the beginning of the remote phase, we have been regularly checking the mood in anonymous surveys to derive supporting measures if necessary. In the first few weeks, for example, many employees suffered from the sudden isolation – we counteracted this with virtual offers, such taking a joint lunch break via Zoom.
At the beginning of the Corona pandemic, we suspended the rule that employees had to submit a certificate of incapacity to work in the event of an illness lasting several days. In this initial phase in particular, visits to physicians were associated with considerable effort, so we were able to provide our employees with enormous relief in this way.
Our development teams have always worked with agile methods and in Scrum teams. Therefore, it was easy to maintain an overview of the general mood in the teams through the Scrum Masters. Some employees, for example from administration or marketing, were not organized in traditional Scrum teams. We offered these teams a Scrum Master to support them in this emotionally challenging time.
Because the yoga offering in a yoga studio for AOE employees had to be suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, but physical activity is more important than ever, we searched for alternatives – since then, in collaboration with a studio, we have been offering virtual yoga via Zoom. The videos are also available afterwards so that everyone can take advantage of the offer, regardless of other appointments or family commitments.
Not only have we completely converted our AOE Academy’s internal training program to online within a very short time, but we also offer webinars on current relevant topics such as resilience and self-organization, so that employees can cope well with the changed conditions now and in the future.
We firmly believe that the current situation will have a long-term impact on the demands of employees. We are therefore using the forced remote situation to gain experience, and to learn and develop the optimal work model in order to make family and job as compatible as possible for our employees in the future.