Miroslav Kroupa, Head of Brand Management at ŠKODA AUTO, said: “Since March 2020, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained extensive experience in digital working. We are now using these learnings to implement further digital initiatives more stringently and to advance them more quickly. The aim is to create an even more digital and therefore more flexible and efficient working environment.”
Since the Czech car manufacturer resumed operations in late April 2020 following a 39-day production shutdown at its Czech plants, the company increased its VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections from 1,200 to approximately 8,000, and made extensive use of online meetings and video calls.
With the #STRONGERTOGETHER project, the car manufacturer is supporting its staff and managers in switching to remote working. In addition to the technological equipment, the company also provides the relevant materials, such as guides and training courses. Managers learn new techniques to effectively lead and guide their teams under these changed conditions. The ŠKODA Academy also provides support with manuals and online courses.
FastCo initiative focuses on efficient digital solutions
Since May 2020, as part the newly established FastCo initiative (Fast Forward after Covid), approximately 30 specialists from different departments have been working on the implementation of various projects. The aim is to continue to accelerate the digital transformation throughout ŠKODA AUTO, developing digital solutions and concepts for the working environment that can be implemented at short notice whilst affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Within a short period of time, the FastCo team developed 25 projects in the areas of organisation and structure, working methods and corporate culture, and internal processes, as well as business models, products and services.
Concrete results include production steps being supported by robot-assisted process automation. In the finance department, salary payments are now checked by digital technologies, saving ten working hours per week. Through targeted automation in controlling and logistics, monthly reports can be prepared efficiently and quickly, which previously took several days to create. ŠKODA AUTO is working on twelve more similar projects this year, and another twelve projects are scheduled to be implemented in 2022.
Using the car manufacturer’s SMART apps, employees can report COVID-19 infections within the workforce via intranet, and contacts can be traced. The company developed the corresponding smartphone app for its entire workforce in just two months.
The ‘Mobile Work 2.0’ initiative is another product of FastCo. It looks at the hardware and software staff use, as well as aspects relating to their health and safety, and new opportunities for their personal development. ŠKODA AUTO works closely with its trade union, KOVO, on these topics.
ŠKODA AUTO’s international sales network is also becoming more digital. The ‘Digital Showroom’ pilot project will see the participation of 220 ŠKODA dealers across 22 countries. These sales rooms are equipped with innovative digital devices to support the sales process and react to the customer’s input. This allows visitors to the sales rooms to find out all about their dream model and configure their new vehicle using large HD screens. ŠKODA AUTO intends to introduce this concept in hundreds of its showrooms. In this context, sales talks and presentations concerning the respective vehicles will also be able to take place digitally in future.
Fewer business flights improve the company’s carbon footprin
By using digital channels for intra-company collaboration, business air miles travelled decreased significantly. This led to an improvement in the carbon footprint of around 80 per cent of carbon dioxide for airline flights. ŠKODA AUTO will therefore continue to use virtual meetings as extensively as possible in future.
Virtual training in quarantine for commercial and production staff
Since 18 January 2021, ŠKODA AUTO – in agreement with the KOVO trade union – has been offering production employees the option to work remotely if they have to quarantine, providing them with the opportunity to complete special online training programmes from home. A similar arrangement has been in effect for office staff since 25 January 2021. Staff are asked to attend virtual training sessions if they are unable to carry out their usual work while in quarantine. Full-day events take place in Czech; learning progress is assessed with a test in the eDoceo e-learning system.