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Markus Schrader

I had never anticipated how much COVID19 would impact us. Even at the beginning of March, I still thought that this would just be something like the seasonal flu and nothing would change dramatically.

When a colleague of mine told me at that time that she would not be visiting sites in the next weeks due to the virus, I thought this was strange as I was still going to the office every day. How wrong I had been. A week later, I found myself working from home…Again…

I had only recently returned to the site after having spent several months working from home as my former office space had to be turned into a training room. Even though the Project Management Team is a fully virtually operating team and therefore I do not necessarily have to work from the site to do my job, I was missing the face-to-face connection to other members of the Foundever Family.

Going to the office kept me in contact with other departments, which helps me to broaden my view. Most importantly, going to the office and walking through the production area reminded me everyday that our Front Line Associates are the most important people within our business and everything I do as a manager needs to be focused around making their job easier and more satisfying as this will ultimately help us to deliver better service to our customers.

When moving to the Home Office, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it felt a bit like a coward as I was in the lucky position to “flee” from the site and move to the home office, while others still had to work from the site. On the other hand, working from home was the little thing I could do to protect others as it guaranteed another 1,5 meters of social distance as I was not there anymore. Still, I have the highest respect for every single member of the team who had or still has the courage to work from home and who helped onsite to get staff into the home offices. You are definitely the heroes of this company.

Now sitting in the Home Office, not knowing for how long the situation will continue, I am asking myself how I can stay connected to the wider business, help to contribute to a better Associate Experience and supporting the company to come stronger out of this situation.

Staying connected with individuals will require me to make an additional effort. Conversations with others do not happen “accidentally” anymore as I will not run into a person. I will actually need to reach out to others more proactively. The digital tools are all there, but I think I also need to still work on educating me better on how to use them. No voice-only calls anymore but always with video on. This helps me to really keep focused on my counterpart, “listen actively,” and, most importantly, “watch actively.”

Staying connected with the team was already something that we had done in the past via regular Team Meetings. Our Team had recently introduced virtual coffee breaks where everyone can just drop in and chat. No agenda, but this leaves room for good ideas to grow. We might not be able to do our annual team meeting anymore this year as who knows when we all can travel again. So maybe we need to go for a virtual cooking session, virtual dining, a virtual walk around in the evening. It sounds like Science Fiction, but it might be a lot of fun…

Helping to build a better Associate Experience and help the company to come stronger out of this crisis. I’m really happy that I’m part of our Global Deploy to Home initiative and I hope that some of the ideas I bring to the table will be useful and will help us to build a better Associate and Customer Experience regardless of whether working from home or from the site.

We have achieved so much already in just a few weeks. I can’t imagine how much more we can achieve in the weeks to come if we all stay healthy, stay focused and keep caring for each other in this great Foundever family.


In this unprecedented time, we’re highlighting #FoundeverHeroes to spark inspiration and positive conversation when we need it most. From adjusting to working from home, implementing social distancing measures in our sites and keeping up with the daily changes around the globe, we are  celebrating stories of success, motivation, overcoming challenges and more. Visit and search hashtag #FoundeverHeroes.

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