Our very personal experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic
Nov 06, 2020
As the pandemic situation worsened in spring, all the locations of Lufthansa Systems switched to home office. As a company, we introduced special group definitions and due to the special requirements in Hungary we use here in addition color codes – blue, yellow and green – to make sure that people who need to use the office, can do use, with the necessary safety measures.
We talked to our young talents, Anita Pázmán, business analyst, Álmos Kolumbán, software developer, Márk Bakulár, software developer and Péter Antal, test engineer, to find out how they coped with the changes caused by Corona.
What were your first thoughts about home office?
Péter: It was a hectic period because our brand new office in Szeged opened on March 3, which turned out to be the last week that we all got to work in the office. At the end of the next week, we all switched to home office, and soon the company introduced the color codes to ensure social distancing at the workspace. We color-coded who can go to work and when. Those working on a project together and having meetings at the same time are yellow or blue and each week either the yellow or the blue teams can enter the office. Those working with several teams are green, so they can go to the office anytime. We paid close attention to make sure the entire floor is not present at the office at the same time. And it worked beautifully.
Álmos: The corona crisis had a major effect on me and made me realize how much I need the office environment for my work-life balance. I am simply unable to work from home, I live alone, being there all by myself is the worst torture I can imagine. The smart, blue-yellow-green categorization system helped a lot. I could go to the office every other week.
Did this reorganization have an effect on work efficiency?
Márk: I personally found being at home all the time rather difficult. But every morning, our unit held a morning café meeting and we also had an online pub every other Friday. Those helped a great deal!
Anita: I experienced the exact opposite. I work with several teams, so as a green employee, I could go to the office more often, yet home office was easy for me. What I missed was the social aspect, having coffee together and chatting. I came up with a meeting series called „how are you” during quarantine, and I send an invitation weekly or bi-weekly to project members and we only talk about stuff not related to work. In the summer, we also met in person. This fall, the „how are you” meetings are back. We also held online birthday parties, and my boss organized online meetings. We felt they cared about us.
You used to travel a lot. How did the travel ban affect you?
Álmos: It was a personal low point when we could no longer travel. I had my whole year planned with travel and had a working trip organized for basically each month. Of the nearly 15 trips, I managed to take two – that was a personal tragedy for me.
Anita: I went on a business trip to Hamburg and Frankfurt and I had first-hand experience of how strictly the regulations were ensured. I also had a PCR test.
Márk Bakulár, software developer at Lufthansa Systems
Did it occur to you that your jobs might be in danger considering how it affected the aviation industry?
Márk: Internal communication was very positive, they clearly stated that our jobs are not in danger. The team where I worked at the time had lots of paid assignments due to the pandemic, for several months.
Anita: I work on projects that are doing great and I am really proud of the fact that our client asked for more project teams.
Péter: There is definitely a tendency for companies to increase their spending on digitalization, but actually, it’s not really a result of the pandemic, but a tendency that has been growing for years.
Were there any advantages of the pandemic for you?
Álmos: I am glad people stand further apart from one another. The coronavirus gave me new hobbies, I tried new sports and I still skateboard. I have been exercising more.
Anita: What I learned from this is that when I was a child, I wanted to have a job that I could do from anywhere, like being a writer, but now I realize I do not have to be always present with my current job, it can be done from anywhere. I am as efficient wherever I am, which gives me a sense of freedom.
On a personal level, the greatest change is that I am more permissive to myself. Everyone started baking bread at home in the spring and I sensed the pressure of having to learn something, but I let it go and learned that it is okay to do nothing.
I don’t go to the office because my colleagues also work from home. A few days ago we talked about how quickly we adjusted to the situation and got used to it. I also hike more, spend more time in nature and in the summer, I started walking along the National Blue Trail – I find it very motivating and I like it because it relaxes me.
Márk: I baked a lot of bread in the summer when others were already over the craze.
Péter: I have never been in better shape than now. I regularly exercised, but the fitness centers have closed so we switched to home training with my partner. I am fitter than ever!
Péter Antal, test engineer at Lufthansa Systems
Are things back on track? Are you feeling fine?
Álmos: Things are back on track for me with the color classification system.
Márk: I am fine now, but I had mental problems, considering I only saw the pizza delivery man and my cat for 9 - 10 weeks during the spring.
Péter: But at least we were holed up working together!
Márk: Yes, that was very important! But that is not a real meeting. I am doing well now, I have a roommate, a girlfriend, several social relations.
Péter: We had a pub office, often spending 4 hours in the garden next to the office using Márk’s unlimited wi-fi. We organized programs together with colleagues, it was so good that we kept in close contact. We were there for each other and that is a wonderful thing.
Are you looking forward to traveling again?
Everyone: Yes. Very much!
Álmos: As soon as we can travel again, I will go to the mountains in Sweden or to the sea in Greece or Seville and work from there.
Anita: I cannot wait to travel again. I will go somewhere by myself for a few weeks.
Péter: I miss travel but working completely remotely - like a freelancer - is not good for me, I need constancy in my life.
Márk: Last year I skipped the skiing season and will not really have a chance this year, either. But I really crave for a family trip.
1) Anita Pázmán, business analyst, and Álmos Kolumbán, software developer (© private)
2) Márk Bakulár, software developer (© private)
3) Péter Antal, test engineer (© private)