Merkle@Home: The management perspective

How does the day-to-day work of a CEO change when suddenly an entire agency is working from home?

Bernd Schopp

This home story could also be called "My Notebook and Me"

I should probably give my Notebook a name soon. Because with all the things that define my life at the moment, my notebook, my mobile phone and my tablet are even more in the center of attention than they have been before. No worries, I'm not a lonely bachelor stuck at home alone. We are a four-member family that, like everyone else, seeks the right balance between home office, home schooling and home lazing. And it works surprisingly well. But everything that happens with or for Merkle has been completely virtualized.

Being a manager at Merkle is an even more exciting job right now than it has been anyway. Not so much because the world has changed so radically in four weeks - it always does in our industry anyway. It's rather that communication and getting close to people is no longer possible so immediately. This is a real change for a company where people and culture are the essence.

All-hands-meeting auf dem Fernseher im Wohnzimmer
The All-Hands-Meeting replaces breakfast television

In the last two weeks, for example, I had an "all hands meeting" twice where I spoke into a disdainful notebook instead of 550 sympathetic colleagues. Not exactly what you would wish for, but under the given conditions it's also great to see how quickly this is possible. And as you can see in the picture, in some places it even replaces the breakfast television ;-)


Fortunately, we are a team that has always been used to distributed work. In the past, because we travelled a lot and were rarely in the same place, and now because we no longer travel and are always in the same place. Before Corona we stayed at the same place at most every two weeks, now we are unfortunately at the same place every day. An executive board meeting has of course changed a lot due to the situation. We are used to be at a different location for each GL meeting, so that we can meet at least every two weeks at the same place.In combination we miss the dinner before, the time with the team at the respective location and generally the time in the beautiful cities in general. 

Der COO beim Gedanken aufzeigen
COO trying to make the others understand his thoughts

In the meetings themselves, a little more technical creativity is required if we want to demonstrate something to each other quickly on the flipchart. Our COO, who is currently in charge of the Corona Taskforce anyway, has already stolen his children's painting easel to help himself. A picture in a picture is worth a thousand words in this case, too.

Mobile CMO Desk
Mobile CMO Desk

And if we can't take it at home anymore or the children have to go out into the fresh air, the CMO has to be creative in his choice of resources and in this case his desk. The child likes the voices in the background and the dad likes the sunny walk. 

But after three weeks even our own four walls have become a little bit of a cage. These times show even more how important a rhythm through the day becomes. Keeping the balance between time with the family, working together in different rooms in the house, school work at the dining table and the remaining leisure activities seems even more important these days. And since we share many leisure activities at Merkle, too, they had to be brought into the living room. 

Remote Yoga
Remote Yoga: Mindfulness Session.

I personally join the weekly Mindfulness Session, which was initiated by our office in Zurich and which can now be attended from home. A nice mix of stretching and relaxation, which also works very well remotely. And it is especially confirming that the yoga teacher also finds streaming not an optimal situation ;-)  So there she is in the same situation as me in the All-Hands-Meeting. But she manages it very well - although she doesn't get any immediate feedback. 


At the end of a week of management, there will finally be time for a joint beer or, as is traditional in St. Gallen, with a joint Appenzell. But of course in a new setting in front of the notebook with everyone else "at home" - at least the drink remains the same during the crisis. After all, it is also supposed to help against viruses - stay at home and stay healthy!

Remote Apero mit Drink und Snacks
At least the drinks remain the same.