This is how you run an auto company from home.
People around the world are adjusting to a new, uncertain normal as the coronavirus pandemic upends lives. Automakers are no different, shutting down factories and sending employees home to work in isolation. But work still needs to be done, and that’s no different at Bugatti where company president Stephan Winkelmann has been doing his duties from home, too. Bugatti published his general schedule, highlighting a typical day for Winkelmann during this lockdown because “Bugatti never stands still.”
Winkelmann starts his day with a 7 a.m. wakeup call, followed by breakfast and catching up on the news. By 8:30, he’s checking emails and hosting the first of several meetings, which starts with the Executive Board. What follows is more conference calls, touching base with other Bugatti departments – sales, design, marketing, and development. Lunch is at noon with some TV news and emails, but by 2 p.m., Winkelmann is hosting more phone conferences and checking emails.
Winkelmann concludes his day with an hour run – broken up by exercises. The evening is when Winkelmann makes some private phone calls, which include his mother, and reading. “For me, the only benefit of the lockdown is that I have more time to read in the evenings.” Usually, he reads one non-fiction and one fiction book, though right now he’s reading two non-fiction books.
While Winkelmann and many of Bugatti’s are working from home, Winkelmann does visit the company’s headquarters at least twice a week. There are still a small number of employees who must go into work, and Winkelmann likes to visit to stay up to date on what’s happening there. Bugatti did shutter production to help slow the spread of the virus, though work continues in both development and design.
This will be the norm for the foreseeable future as automakers, employees, and people around the world adjust to this new, uncertain normal. This has put a strain on automakers that’ll likely see sales falter in the coming months, as many have stepped up to help their employees, customers, and communities in various ways.
Bugatti working from home – Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann
Bugatti has suspended production of its vehicles such as the Chiron1 and Divo2 in Molsheim. Nevertheless, a large number of employees are still working – from home and in compliance with the recommendations of the corresponding authorities, international experts and government measures.
Stephan Winkelmann, who has been President of Bugatti since 2018, is currently mainly managing the French company from his home in Strasbourg, France. At least twice a week, Winkelmann travels to the headquarters in Molsheim to inform himself about the current situation there with the small number of employees who are not able to work from home. This includes meetings with the security staff and the Facility Manager.
“Even though I am now working from home like many other employees, no day is ever the same during this difficult time. However, thanks to digital processes and communication channels, we are still able to work and keep on developing our extraordinary hyper sports cars,” explains Stephan Winkelmann. A brief excerpt from his daily diary shows that the French luxury brand is not standing still, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Get up
- Light breakfast
- Obtain an overview of the day’s news; read national and international press.
“I use a range of different media to find out about what is currently going on in the world, in politics and in business. After all, I need a good overview to be able to assess the markets and general situation correctly and use this information to guide my actions.”
- Catch up with e-mails
- Start of my first Skype meeting with the Comité de Direction, the extended Executive Board.
“At the moment, we talk to Bugatti’s senior management team every morning so that everyone is up-to-date with the current situation in the company and how we are all doing health-wise, also including our business partners. This also involves discussing the latest global developments and how we as a company should react. If we think we need to take action, we discuss the possible solutions in this larger group. It is a joint effort and thrives on active discourse between everyone involved.”
- Further conference calls with various departments such as Development, Sales, Design and Marketing.
“Even though none of our hyper sports cars are able to leave our Molsheim site at the moment, we are continuing to work actively where possible. Apart from production, this relates primarily to development and design. Employees keep me informed of the current status, development success, or problems. This also includes the current status of our global business partners. How are they dealing with the situation and how are they continuing to support our customers? We discuss the next steps together so that our work is not impeded by a lack of decisions. Our motto is always the same: the only way we can continue to build the best cars in the world is by talking to one another. The challenges facing the Sales and Marketing departments are particularly tough and we are only able to solve these together.”
- Watch the news on TV
- Catch up with e-mails
“As well as online magazines in the morning, I catch up with the news at lunchtime by watching TV. As Bugatti is a globally operating brand, both the company and myself have an interest in the news from every region and continent. It is really important to keep up. Due to the time differences between the various regions, lunchtime is a good time to get an idea of what is going on in the world.”
- Further phone conferences with the Comité de Produit, the product committee, regarding the development of current and future products.
- Catch up with e-mails
“Bugatti never stands still. Not at the weekends, not over the Christmas holidays, and definitely not on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no limits to the creativity of our staff; new ideas for new technical solutions or products appear all the time. Consolidating them all is always a particular challenge. During our Comité de Produit conference calls, we discuss the latest developments and sketch out future projects. For me, these are some of the most exciting meetings as they give you a glimpse of all the power and creativity in our company. Things can get a little heated sometimes. However, in my experience, it precisely this kind of friction that leads to the best results.”
- Endurance sports
“Since I currently cannot train at the gym or in the pool, I go running for an hour in the early evening and break up my run with a few exercises. This improves my endurance and health, I enjoy it and it gives me time to review the day without my smartphone or computer. This period of meditation also recharges my batteries.”
- Private phone calls
“Every evening at the moment I phone my mother, who lives in southern Germany. This has become a lovely ritual and helps her in particular to get through this difficult time. After that, I usually phone a few friends who are spread all over the world and find out how they are doing.”
“For me, the only benefit of the lockdown is that I have more time to read in the evenings. I normally read two books in parallel, one fiction and one non-fiction. However, I am reading two non-fiction books at the moment – a biography of Charles de Gaulle and a book about the French paratrooper units during the Indochina war. There is also a book about the ‘Bugatti Queen’ on my shelf, which tells the story of the French female racing driver Hellé Nice, who drove a Bugatti Type 35 C. This book is next on my list.”