By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan NEW YORK (Reuters) – How can technology help companies around the world get back to work safely when the lockdown ends? At Siemens, Ruth Gratzke is overseeing a “Return with Confidence” campaign to create safe and healthy indoor office environments. “It addresses everything from elevators where there is no need to touch buttons, contactless interactions throughout the building, or meeting room and desk management around social distancing,” said Gratzke, president of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, USA, A unit of Siemens AG (OTC :). “It’s about using new and creative technologies, analyzing what’s available in technology, and giving people the confidence to get back to the office.” Gratzke, 49, spoke to Reuters about the future of the office, as well as the leadership lessons it learned during the pandemic. Below are edited excerpts. Q. How do you think our work offices will be in the future? A. The good days No more old cube format where everyone is sitting stacked on top of each other. If people sit close to each other again, there may be Plexiglas barriers around us. And while people always say, “Yes, we are going to collaborate in these beautiful meeting rooms,” people have learned to communicate effectively with each other through video Q. What impact has the pandemic had on leadership? A. The focus of our people has changed a lot more. They are really the ones who have helped us this pandemic and we have had to think a lot about “How can I take care of these human beings and keep them safe, engaged and motivated?” Our operations in Mexico lost a handful of employees. We had to look at “how can I help your families in this terrible time? “Taking care of our employees in a way that I’ve never had before. Q. What is your biggest challenge in work life now? A. Being a homeschooler while you are president. My son is nine years old. He is in school public and went virtual in March. I was used to going to work in the morning and not thinking about my family until I came back in the evening. Homeschooling was incredibly stressful and trying to balance the two was crazy. But constantly juggling With both of them it made me a lot more patient with myself. If I have a video call at my home office and my little one walks in here because he couldn’t solve a math problem, a year ago I would have committed suicide out of embarrassment. Now it’s like, “Hey, it’s okay. It’s part of life. ” Q. How are you handling burnout? A. I have been working much more, more hours and I am much more exhausted. My days are fuller and denser. I’m a runner, so I get up at five in the morning and I’m going to hit the pavement for an hour. There is something wonderful about just grabbing your music and going for a run in the dark. Clean my brain. Now, if I skip a race, I can feel my stress increase immediately. Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out right now? A. For people trying to enter the job market, I am really impressed with the young talents who enter LinkedIn (NYSE 🙂 and are ruthless. They find a way to connect. They are not afraid to approach someone with a great title. I have the utmost respect for someone who dares to do that. That requires trust. I really encourage you to use the tools you have today and don’t be afraid to be aggressive. Q. Is there a business book that you recommend often? A. “The Other Kind of Intelligence” by Harvey Deutschendorf. At some point in my career, I received feedback that I was too assertive and needed to focus more on being in tune with the people around me. This book showed me that strengthening the EQ side, the ability to listen, the ability to read the signals around you are just as important as having a brilliant mind or being a great engineer.