Working in the COVID-19 period
In March, the government announced far-reaching measures in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a network operator, we are responsible for supplying energy to 2.9 million households and businesses. Our activities are part of the vital infrastructure in the Netherlands, so ensuring continued performance to the extent possible of our primary activities, such as troubleshooting and critical maintenance, was important for us and our customers. The same applied to troubleshooting in people’s homes. However, in some cases, field staff were confronted by angry customers during planned power interruptions, because they were unable to work from home or homeschool their children. Our team leaders engaged in dialogue with the residents in these cases to ensure that our technicians could carry on working without disruption.
We made every possible effort to help our field staff do their work in accordance with the COVID-19 measures and guidelines on social distancing. We use special protocols for this, which have been drawn up by the organisation and the sector in line with RIVM’s guidelines.
Working from home
In the case of our office staff, the COVID-19 measures meant that they started working from home as much as possible in March. Office layouts were changed to ensure a distance of one and a half metres, by limiting the number of workstations for example, and marking out pedestrian routes. We cancelled internal and external events, with the exception of training courses. Despite the limitations, working from home sped up the introduction and adoption of ICT tools and systems. Many employees indicate that they would like to continue working from home to some extent after the COVID-19 crisis.
A COVID-19 crisis team was set up in March. The team, which includes members from all business units and disciplines, investigates what action Alliander can take to minimise the risk of employees contracting the virus during their work. The team drew up seven scenarios and identified the consequences for each scenario. Among other things, the scenarios considered the availability of employees, the use of IT, the scarcity of resources and our financial position. Actions were decided based on these scenarios, e.g. purchasing rapid test kits from a commercial party, enlarging the long-term employability budget, asking Arbo Unie and SpecialistenNet to provide extra assistance and creating an intranet group where people working from home can share tips and information.
Information about the work situation and well-being
We are aware that working in accordance with these measures asks a lot of our employees. So we attach importance to regularly investigating the work situation and the well-being of our colleagues. Employees participated in a working-from-home scan on two occasions. These scans indicated that people can generally work from home effectively, but that they miss their colleagues, collaboration within the organisation and (informal) contact. Employees were satisfied with the tools they use for working from home, but also said that they tend to get tired more quickly. At the end of 2020, we set up an intranet survey on the subject of employee well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and 900 employees took part. The second scan indicated that the work situation was sustainable, that employees could work without interruptions and concentrate effectively, that online collaboration with colleagues was going well and that they had succeeded in creating a good home office. Some still had difficulties, but indicated that they would be able to carry on working from home for the time being.