State-of-the-art collaboration in the cloud: The digitized office structure at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe

Career at thyssenkrupp | Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | People at thyssenkrupp | The coronavirus crisis has had a severe impact on society and the economy. Many companies who hadn’t already largely digitized their processes have been caught out, above all by the lockdown necessitated by the pandemic. thyssenkrupp Steel Europe has also had to live with restrictions, but in Duisburg preparations for the future had already been underway for some time.

When Laura Kreienkamp joined thyssenkrupp in 2018, no-one – including Laura herself – had any idea that a pandemic could bring public life worldwide to an almost complete halt. But everything has been different since March 2020. COVID-19 has not only restricted public life, it has also paralyzed the economy – and in particular changed the way people work together: The open-plan office has been replaced by working from home, personal meetings by online video conferences, and new ways have also had to be found to share information. But, thanks to the continuous development of IT at the company, it has been business as usual for colleagues in Duisburg – despite the challenging situation.

COVID-19 caught businesses unawares

Back in September 2019 the Digital Solutions functional unit rolled out a groundbreaking project: In the unite@Steel program the Office IT was restructured and Microsoft 365 implemented at thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg. “But unite@Steel isn’t just about Microsoft 365,” says Laura. “The project covered the complete Office infrastructure: We optimized and standardized both infrastructure and processes. And Office 365 offers a wide variety of possibilities for cloud collaboration.”

The IT and digitization experts from Digital Solutions benefitted not only from their own know-how, but also from the expertise of the other departments involved. Laura says: “As DSO we don’t work alone, but always in close consultation with the departments. After all, they know best what they need from the platforms provided. So we all develop solutions together to ensure the best possible results.”

State-of-the-art collaboration in the cloud

In the same way as for “unite@Steel”, Digital Solutions established a “multiplier network” of employees from all areas to enable the project to be implemented quickly and effectively in the administrative departments. “They were trained both in Microsoft 365 and in change management,” says Laura. The multipliers – known as “hidden champions” – not only pioneered the use of the products, they also played another important role. “They helped raise awareness about the new tools among their colleagues and listened to their feedback to understand what worked well and what didn’t.” The feedback was then integrated into the ongoing project work.

“Office 365 is a dynamic project and process and everyone needs to be actively involved to get the most out of it,” says the 28-year-old. All employees at thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg have benefitted from this dynamic process – above all during the coronavirus lockdown in spring 2020. “Teams” allows employees to communicate with each other, even across great distances, while “SharePoint” enables files and information to be exchanged easily in the cloud. “During the coronavirus it has of course been great that we can all communicate and work together independently,” Laura is pleased to report. “We were lucky that we started so early with this as it gave us several months to familiarize ourselves with the online applications before working from home became the norm for the majority of users.”

Digitized Office structure “saves time and energy”

Feedback from colleagues has been extremely positive. One of the hidden champions says: “The fact that Teams integrates a wide range of programs means people don’t need to switch between various applications – everything is directly integrated and that saves time and energy.” And CIO Dr. Michael Kranz is also a big fan of the new digital opportunities: “It’s only once you see what you can do with it all that you realize what you were missing out on in the past.” The Digital Solutions unit is delighted that the new opportunities have been so well received by employees.

Projects like this are the reason why Laura never finds her job boring. “There’s so much going on here,” she says. “Every day is different. There’s no such thing as routine in a negative sense.” On completing her studies, thyssenkrupp was one of Laura’s preferred employers. “I’m from the Ruhr region, and thyssenkrupp is a big name here. Even though I left the region during my studies and even completed two semesters abroad, I was glad to come back. Steel is of great importance to the Ruhr and I love being able to play a part in its story at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe.”

“That’s something really special about thyssenkrupp!”

Another reason to return to the Ruhr: The special mentality of the people, which Laura also appreciates at work. “My colleagues here are really friendly and open. You can just give them a call and you can be sure of their support. You always feel welcome here, even though the group is so big: That’s something really special about thyssenkrupp!”

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