Connecting beyond digital during a pandemic - Sonae Arauco

Connecting beyond digital during a pandemic

Going digital and working throughout a pandemic at Sonae Arauco has presented significant challenges to our operating cohesion and employee dynamics. It has become the foremost issue of our present lives thus connecting to each other to maintain strong working relationships has been an important focus.

Because we believe our teams at Sonae Arauco take wood further, sustainable solutions always come from a balanced working and living environment. As such, we would like to take note of the ways you can adapt to this environment and reflect on how our lives have changed during this past year.

Connecting to work from home

Working from home, although seemingly a dream circumstance, presents some unforeseen issues that can manifest in many ways. Personal distractions, maintaining time management, supervision when not under a usual work routine, and a blurred line between personal and professional can effectively bring down the level of work efficiency you may be used to.

Connecting to colleagues online has become the preferred mode of communication with digital communication platforms becoming more popular than ever before. Gone were the days where a meeting required you to sit in a boardroom with your team. MS Team calls and conferences are now the new normal.


At Sonae Arauco, we have been managing our employees via a number of ways which has helped them remain focused, connected, and motivated. As such, we have a few suggestions for creating balance when working from home: 


  1. Effective time management strategies: automated timekeeping apps like EverHour and RescueTime have allowed us the ability to track employee scheduling and effect workflow as seamlessly as possible.
  2. Break Scheduling: Being able to track time also allows us to manage how lunch hours and break times are taken ensuring we stick to company policies.
  3. Open and Improved Comms: We have implemented various email and newsletter chains that are effective in keeping our employees up to date and aware of the office ongoings whilst they are away from the office.
  4. Employee wellness initiatives: We have to be sure that our staff are in peak condition and are motivated to maintain a good work ethic. We understand that excessive isolation can cause depression and loneliness which is more prevalent with our extroverted employees. Online chat rooms for socialising have been opened up for our teams to share stories and keep in comms with each other. We also send out regular checkups for them to complete so that we are aware of their emotional state.
  5. Instil an environment of positivity: The constant use of online meeting rooms and zoom calls can weigh down on how effective our communication skills can be simply due to the nature of it not being face to face. Our employees have had to manage both professional and personal challenges during a lockdown. This is why we have maintained a theme of positivity and openness ensuring that staff can cope with the shifting dynamics of online communication and maintaining a cheerful disposition.


Educated and Empowered


Some of the effective strategies we put into place include and are outlined in the Regulations and Guidelines – Coronavirus COVID-19 of the South African Government:

  • Education about covid spread and prevention procedures.
  • Education on health and safety procedures that will be implemented.
  • The requirement of masks, social distancing (1.5 meters), sanitary stations, and a zero-contact policy.
  • Decent ventilation of all facilities.
  • Regular cleaning of all surfaces.


These safety procedures which we augmented upon based on the needs of our employees, sites, and plants, afford us the ability to keep our doors open. This is to maintain a standard of minimal instances of viral infections and safer procedures for contact management. Our employees were able to adapt to these mildly disruptive features with little effort.

This is to ensure a smooth continuation of production and supply of our wood-based decorative panels working towards a sustainable economic and environmentally friendly outcome on the horizon.

For more information on our wood-based decorative panels and services, visit us at: