Everything changed overnight when the pandemic arrived in Norway. In a short time, information and guidelines from the authorities had to be understood and implemented, customers had to be consulted and the needs of the employees had to be taken care of.
“It was without a doubt the toughest year I have experienced”, states Trine Holmen-Løkken, director of canteen and catering in 4Service.
She was in the middle of the storm when it arrived on 12 March last year. The certainty that colleagues' everyday lives would change drastically was distressing, but still necessary to take on board.
“In a chaotic situation, we certainly did some things wrong, but we also did a lot that was right. We focused on what we could do, not on how hopeless things looked. That, combined with an incredible sense of solidarity, helped us get through the first week of the pandemic.”
Joakim Korell, Eastern Norway's regional manager for staff restaurants in 4Service, agrees:
“I will never forget the car trip on 12 March from Son to Oslo and up Brynsalléen. The streets were deserted. It was just like in a movie. The feeling that something very special had happened weighed on my mind.”
Holmen-Løkken and Korell worked around the clock for the first few days. Together with the rest of the management team in 4Service, they ensured ongoing communication with customers and employees, and that those who needed it received extra attention. The solution was simple but effective.
“We agreed to take care of each other, to pay attention to people and take one challenge at a time. That way, gigantic numbers and gloomy predictions became easier to deal with”, says Korell.
“Obviously, when a large portion of our customers introduced home offices, or changed their routines overnight, it was impossible to avoid lay-offs. It was tough. And it's tough to see that we still don’t have everyone back at work yet. That is my biggest goal for 2021: To get everyone back to where they belong.