The crisis is catapulting us at breakneck speed into a new recycling world of work – we need ideas, and these are generated outside of our comfort zone!

Over the past few days, we have encountered all kinds of far-fetched scenarios in relation to the virus and our situation, ranging from the apocalyptic and the moderate to positive scenarios prophesying an economic reset. Right now, nobody can reliably predict what lies ahead. 

The fact is that life has been turned upside down. And we are all seeking new things to rely on, new rules and functioning infrastructures. This goes hand in hand with a deep-rooted desire for security. I don’t need to tell you where I am as I write these lines – I am sitting at home with a view of the garden.  

The tegos Group CEOs Andreas and Ralf have been busily getting things accomplished since the beginning of last week. In next to no time, the headquarters in Dortmund were vacated – something which was unimaginable for many of our customers and partners, but which is basically the norm for us employees, as we all frequently work remotely. But it’s now a real luxury in this exceptional situation. As a software supplier, tegos has an agile set-up with all of its applications and all the hardware. To be honest, up to the beginning of last week, I had declared ‘agile’ to be one of my personally hated words of the year 2020. It always sounded so oversized to me, and there were countless best practice examples doing the rounds on the likes of LinkedIn – everyone had the perfect answer to how to use the term. I have reconsidered my definition of the term ‘agile working’ since last week and it has therefore taken on a new meaning. To my mind, what the tegos Group achieved in a matter of hours – emptying the entire Dortmund headquarters in record time in order to protect its most important resource, people, and, of course, to continue to supply all the customers too – represents the new world of work. 

As solution providers, we are clearly always a few steps ahead of the rest in terms of technology, and it goes without saying that a disposal business could never get things done so quickly, either now or in the future. Who would run the plant or see to the sorting process, or indeed take care of municipal waste disposal? But it is when the going gets tough that ideas grow and we have the courage to tackle issues which we would never have defined as being necessary until a week ago or which involve terminology that was entirely foreign to us. We didn’t have the time to think about best practices for virtual maintenance work or an online customer portal that connects the customers so effectively that it would perhaps take only one employee to coordinate it or connecting all the systems to achieve accurate coordination, thereby taking the strain off those working in the area of municipal waste disposal. We would never have spared a thought for our infrastructures in the company, where we are dependent on high-performance computers which are only available at our regular place of work. This wasn’t necessary, so it wasn’t an issue. But it is now and will be from now on!  

We must all rise to the challenge of agile working. Thinking about projects in an agile way is perhaps disconcerting and worrying – both in terms of budgets and internal resources. But ‘agile’ doesn’t mean ‘without a plan’ – it’s about a way of working which is adapted to the circumstances. The COVID-19 scenario shows us in very stark terms how very necessary flexibility is.  

We are no longer merely talking about our industry’s imminent digital transformation – we have found ourselves being thrown headlong into this process at high speed. In addition to changes in infrastructure, in the way in which we communicate and in project work, I think this also means making changes to workshops and also our mindset, rather than simply hoping that this situation will soon pass – or if not soon, at least eventually – and that we get off lightly economically speaking.  

Change always occurs outside of your comfort zone. Personally, I thought two of my co-workers had an exemplary idea: on Friday, they threw an online coronavirus party as their answer to #stayathome. To me, this signals a willingness to explore new options, including when it comes to interpersonal contact, as these are needed everywhere.  My personal change process over the past few days has been using my computer’s camera. I have never been a huge fan of videoconferences, but I have to say that a meeting in video format works a great deal better than your usual conference call. Facial expressions and gestures promote understanding, and a smile can often help in communication – not only at times like these. I am hearing from many of my co-workers that they find videoconferences a lot more efficient – people express themselves more succinctly than in conventional meetings and get to the point quickly. We aren’t seeing any disadvantages on the operational side of things, with the projects that we handle continuing to progress at pace. The fact that humans possess the wonderful ability to adapt to circumstances will help us to more openly embrace digital scenarios. The magic of these days is the will to change and the courage to tackle new digital projects and set out for a new world of work, equipped with the necessary tools, be they  infrastructure-related Office 365 applications or cloud products for the recycling industry. A cautious dissipation of the initial state of shock is spreading confidence that the economy will not necessarily be brought entirely to its knees. Because it shows that, even when working from home, we can achieve a great deal if we are equipped with the right digital tools. 

For us at tegos, the most important question is this: How have you experienced the past few days? What concerns do you have? What was good about working from home? What was different? What ideas and wishes are you currently preoccupied with as a disposal company?  In what areas can we assist you with best practices? We need you and your questions so that we can provide answers.  

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