“We can influence this ourselves”

The second wave of the pandemic is leading to additional security measures. Hermann Köster describes the challenges and the opportunities

Germany is experiencing a second wave of infections. Is DMK ready?

The past few months have taught us a great deal and even before Germany’s second lockdown, we had tightened our hygiene precautions and improved communication within the Task Force. We’re also focusing on protecting our supply chains to ensure our customers can keep relying on goods deliveries, and that we can keep collecting milk from our farmers and keep processing it at DMK facilities.

What were DMK’s biggest challenges so far?

Germany’s states imposed very different restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading, making the time before the second nationwide lockdown particularly challenging, as we tried to create consistent guidelines to apply to all of our locations while staying flexible. Initially, different regions and locations faced different situations, not all were affected the same way. We found a way that worked for everyone, and managed to protect DMK as well as possible before the nationwide lockdown. It was and remains a challenge that we have locations in different countries. The virus is also spreading at different rates, so we are trying to balance responding to individual measures while keeping everyone informed across the board. Furthermore, our measures affect not only our employees but also companies that are working for us – so health guidelines were and are needed for construction at our plants, and everyone involved needs to be informed. And we needed to get texts and documents translated into more than 10 languages so everyone could understand everything.

Together, we’ll get through it!

Hermann Köster, COO DMK Supply Chain Management

How can employees help?

They can continue to do what they’ve done so well so far: keep social distancing and following the health and hygiene rules. This is not being overly cautious, but a sign of solidarity. Those who follow the rules are protecting others and thinking of their colleagues. So it is thanks to us that we have come through the pandemic so well so far. That is the good thing about it – it is something we can influence ourselves.

Of the measures the company introduced during the first wave of infections, which ones are helping DMK most now?

Many of the measures we introduced in spring are having an effect now – and they have also become learned behavior. That includes wearing face masks, the ban on travel and visiting, keeping in-person meetings to a minimum and working remotely, where possible. Suddenly switching to remote working in spring went really well, so those employees who can are likely to continue working from home, in order to keep contacts to a minimum.

How are employees responding?

They appreciate the clear rules – that is something some people wanted. Nonetheless, it was and remains a very demanding time and we thank all employees who have helped us get through this crisis so well so far – they have really kept the company going. What’s important now is to persevere, keep pulling together and to go an extra meter where you can. For each and every single person, my hope is that you stay healthy through the winter months and take care of each other. Together, we’ll get through it!

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