My daughter is working as a Quantity Surveyor in Germany, and sent me these thoughts about the effect of Covid-19 where she is living. It was a couple of weeks ago, and things have eased since she wrote this.
There has been no 'shielding' and outright bans on people leaving their home which has been good. Measures have predominately focussed on maintaining business as far as possible whilst trying to break the chain of infection. I have so far not been affected by shorter working hours, nor have I yet had to leave my job due to me belonging to a risk category (due to underlying health conditions, my age).
However, as the risks and infection rates worldwide grew, a lot of changes have taken place during the last two months. Lots of people, a number of my colleagues included, are now on compulsory part time working - 3 days a week for 6 hours a day. This is hard especially where you have families to look after. Other colleagues were compulsorily withdrawn from sites and sent home due to their age and / or other underlying health conditions. (These sites are in many different countries - not just Germany). The majority of the construction sites have closed as the countries in which these sites are located countries have fought to control the disease. Since 3 March 2020 business travel has just about stopped unless this is absolutely necessary. This is also the date that disinfection measures were stepped up throughout my ofﬁce location and was triggered after a co-worker was contacted through the track and trace programme instigated after a business trip meant he had had a meeting with someone who then tested positive for COVID-19. It meant 2 entire ofﬁces were on a compulsory 14-day home quarantine. Between that date (3 March 2020) and 16 March 2020 3 other ofﬁces went into compulsory home quarantine as suspect cases rose. Fortunately, even now at my location we have only had this one conﬁrmed case, despite under normal conditions a few thousand people work at this location under normal conditions.
In general, Germany was about 2 weeks behind Italy and Spain in closing Restaurants and non-essential (i.e. non food shops and non chemists) shops. These closures occurred on my ﬁrst or second day of working from home (i.e. 17 or 18 March). Other businesses have been allowed to operate provided that social distancing measures can be implemented and that extra hygiene measures were brought in (I dread to think how often my desk has been disinfected during my absence). From March onwards, a lot of companies undertook their own risk reviews and proactively requested those deemed to be 'at risk' of catching the infection to work from home where this is technically possible. This included myself as I travel to work by public transport. Others were given the option to work from home (again provided that the business did not suffer) to reduce the footfall into the ofﬁces.
Now if I want to go into the ofﬁce, I have to provide 48 hours notice, and I am not allowed to sit at my own desk as a colleague is sitting at another desk in my ofﬁce: he struggles to work from home effectively (his computer seems to dislike his home Internet) Despite this, there has still been a high level of relative freedom. Although staying at home was actively encouraged, public transport still ran (with people being encouraged to sit at least 1.5m away from neighbours) and more businesses appear to have remained open than in other neighbouring countries.