In the process of preparing for a COVID-19 outbreak in Austria, IKEA Austria has reviewed its existing pandemic and crisis plans and associated stock of supplies. During the preparation for the bird flu more than ten years ago, IKEA bought tens of thousands of surgical face masks, and put them into storage.
Some of those enormous quantities that were then purchased are now needed for the IKEA co-workers who are currently still working. However, due to the current emergency situation and shortage of supplies, the IKEA Austria Crisis Management Team has decided to donate a big part of those masks to medical facilities. 20,000 face masks were handed over to clinics and hospitals in the province of Salzburg (Salzburger Landeskliniken SALK) last Friday. Another 30,000 masks were received by the team of the Vienna Medical Association to be used specifically for doctors in private practices in the Austrian capital.
Home office and precautionary measures
IKEA Austria has taken thorough precautions to be well prepared for and during this difficult situation. "We have several areas where we are currently really working in unison. This is particularly true for the employees at the two large logistics centers in Wels and in Strebersdorf, who are coming to work every day during those difficult times. I would like to express my special thanks for their commitment," says Business Development Manager Maimuna Mosser.
Strict regulations and safety precautions are in place to ensure the health of those employees who work in the service of customers. On the one hand, hygiene measures have been significantly strengthened. Disinfectants are available at different locations throughout the two logistics centers. All employees are given masks and are required to keep a minimum distance at all times. Also, never more than five employees – with a safe distance – are to be in one place. This applies to the cloakrooms, the rest rooms and the canteen as well.
Almost all of the approximately 200 employees of the company’s headquarter in Vösendorf have been working from home (home office) since before the start of the exit restrictions, as have the almost 110 employees of Customer Support Center. Within two to three days, the latter were equipped with suitable equipment by the IKEA Austria Digital Team and are now taking care of the customers' needs in a charming way. It goes without saying that this is not always easy. After all, many of the employees also have school-age children who need to be looked after as well. "I am extremely proud of my team, how quickly they have organized themselves and how quickly they have adapted to this difficult situation," says Customer Support Center Manager Catherine Blake.
What was already quite "normal" before Corona, meaning attending meetings online via Microsoft Teams, has now become the focus of work. While it used to be a relief, for example to save unnecessary travel, it is now the opportunity not only to hold well-organized work meetings, but also a welcome chance to keep in touch with colleagues in such a way that you still have the feeling of "seeing each other".