"The LRZ is a good place to work or many"


More than 250 employees were sent to work from home within a few days, the chat channel "LRZamhalten" was set up at Rocket.chat and many, many questions not only about Corona were answered: 2020 was a "busy and exhausting year" for the human resources department of the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ), according to its team lead Sabine Osorio. One of the Corona measures was a survey among the employees of the LRZ in summer: more than 50 percent took part in it - and their answers reflect a lot of satisfaction, but also some wishes. Sabine Osorio, head of HR, explains what was going on at the LRZ in 2020 and what will happen in 2021:

Almost 94 percent of the respondents rated the corona measures, LRZ took, as good to very good, 91 percent saw the LRZ as very well prepared for the pandemic. What is the most important result from the point of view of the HR department?

Sabine Osorio: The answers show that about 80 percent of our employees working from home felt well informed, and communication worked well within teams and across departments. There were a lot of postings on RocketChat, the LRZ channel, and some virtual coffee rounds were well attended. Obviously we did a lot of the things right with respect to communication during the lockdown. More than 80 percent of the LRZ employees are also satisfied with the technical equipment in the home office. In this respect, I am very pleased with the results, but there are also some topics where we can improve a lot.

Which ones?

Osorio: The recording of working hours and vacation must become much more digital. The processes are still too cumbersome. There should be ways of applying for vacation and recording work that work 100% electronically. We need technology for this, but it also requires planning, agreements and new rules in the HR area. It will still take time to implement this.

What surprised you most about the survey?

Osorio: That the results for all questions were as good or positive. To be honest - I had expected a lot more people complaining under the cover of an anonymous survey or raving about corona measures. But the answers all indicate a high level of satisfaction, good cohesion and a lot of understanding. The fact that the LRZ is obviously a good place to work for many people makes me a bit happy.

38 percent of the employees who took part in the survey are working from home for the first time, 61 percent of the newcomers and 65 percent of the experienced ones are very satisfied with it. Among the more experienced employees, the attitude towards the home office has improved, and more than 55 percent also feel more productive at home: This speaks for more flexible ways for how to organize work. Will the home office in the LRZ be consolidated and even expanded after Corona?

Osorio: The management of the LRZ and the staff council will discuss this in due course, and we will provide input and possible scenarios from the HR department. Personally, I cannot imagine that we will return completely to pre-Corona times in terms of working from home. However, more flexible ways of working require modified regulations, and service agreements will certainly have to be revised or negotiated. Above all, however, these flexible ways of working remotly will have to be intensively reconsidered. Digital companies such as Twitter, Google and Facebook sent their workforce home in March and want to keep them there for the time being because everything is going well digitally. On the other hand, experiences from Yahoo give food for thought. In 2013 hours for work at home were again restricted for employees because there was a lack of coordination within the company and the teams. IBM and other companies followed this example. We should discuss this. Teleworking also has a lot to do with workplace design and technical equipment, which others will decide on.

At the end of the year we like to draw a conclusion: What was important for the HR department in 2020?

Osorio: Personally and organizationally, the death of Monika Bernhardt, Head of Central Services, was certainly a very drastic experience and a great shock. She had been with us for just under a year and had so many plans. That was very, very sad. - Professionally, we also took over some of her tasks from the staff, which put a strain on the daily business. In this respect, I am very happy that we have had a great new manager in Dr. Jürgen Seidl since October and that we can concentrate on our actual tasks again. Here are a few figures: In 2020, we had answered a total of 9720 inquiries or entries by mid-November. In twos. Just under 200 per week. From the rather simple change of address to sick leave and tariff and training issues, there were many consultations on personal or management issues. In addition, we managed 254 applications and 15 resignations, conducted 75 job interviews, recruited 17 assistant students, and took care of the management.

Have you still reached a personal milestone?

Osorio: Oh yes - we have documented and updated all personnel processes. Since I joined the LRZ 2018, I have been trying to concentrate the information on HR work in one place. So far, they were scattered in our internal wiki in different places. This year we finally managed to do that - that is my personal milestone. We have standardized the information on the tendering and application process, on terminations, on- and offboarding, contracts and more, formulated it more comprehensibly, and updated it. There was a need for coordination with departments when, for example, technical perspectives still had to be considered. We managed to do a lot of this on the side, but this work was really worthwhile and I am proud of it. Now I'm looking forward to receiving feedback and questions that will allow us to refine the content.

What are the HR strategies and plans for 2021?

Osorio: We are coordinating with the staff council and the institute management. Professionally and personally, I am very interested in the issue of diversity and the better visibility of employees who are not men. As a woman in the women's domain of administration, I unfortunately often observe the problems that female colleagues in the male domain of IT have. This must change. For recruiting and in order to retain employees, the LRZ must be recognizable from the outside as a diverse organization. This starts with the language and with gender, which started in some places and is very important to me. Whoever denies the sense of a neutralizing, gender-fair language ignores the urgency of the topic and the findings of many studies, according to which diverse teams work better, function better and are more creative. If we want to grow further, we will have to inspire many more social groups for the LRZ - women, queer, specialists from abroad. We have a big advantage that we can use: the good working atmosphere and the collegial contact with each other. If applications, which come on the recommendation of colleagues, I am always pleased. It makes me happy because we can achieve so much with it. (Interview: vs)