Spotlight: Hildegunn Solvang
25 years in a key role
Hildegunn Solvang was a key employee in welcoming Omega employees back to the office following the first stage of the corona crisis. After 25 years in the company, she will soon embark on a new life as a retiree.
A lot has changed since Hildegunn started as a cleaner in Omega in 1994, when the company was based at Nerheim in Ølen, Norway. The first ten employees were on the job and everything was managed from the offices of a simple work barracks. Hildegunn smiles to herself as she thinks back to the time when she combined a part-time position as home help with her job at Omega.
- Name: Hildegunn Solvang
- Age: 66
- From: Sæbøvik - Halsnøy, Norway. Lives in Ølensvåg, Norway.
- Omega Focus: Cleaning
- Background: Has worked at Omega for 25 years, will retire in January 2021.
- Location: HQ, Ølensvåg
“It was a completely different time back then, it was like a small family working together. There were often notes in the kitchen with messages to those who did not clean up after themselves, or who did not wash up. They took turns with everything from shopping to tidying up and, of course, this could cause some grumbling,” she says and laughs.
In the years that followed, a lot has changed. Omega has experienced enormous growth in terms of employees and departments. During the same period, the job as a cleaner has received increased attention and been lifted professionally. Hildegunn is happy that more people now see how important the job of a cleaner is. Today, cleaning is not something that is done in the evening after everyone else has gone home, it has become an integral part of a company’s everyday work hours.
“I attained my apprenticeship 14 years ago. It’s great that the profession is better appreciated now. Previously, we were often referred to as the ‘cleaning ladies’, but our job is important; the corona situation has demonstrated this so clearly,” she states.
“I’ve had some great years in Omega. I really enjoy my work, and I must admit that the thought that it will soon be over is a bit hard to think about. It will probably be good to retire as well, but very strange not to go to work each morning.”
Challenging pandemic period
This spring was unique for Hildegunn and Iwona Auksel, Hildegunn’s colleague on the cleaning team at our Ølensvåg offices. In March, Norway was forced to shut down and full focus was given to preventing the spread of the corona virus. Stricter cleaning routines were implemented, coffee machines were shut down, and the fruit platters were removed. Today, Hildegunn and Iwona wash all surfaces with disinfectant every day, including handles and stair railings. Office cleaning and cleaning of common areas, such as toilets and canteens, is more important than ever. The goal is for Omega to be a safe workplace during this challenging pandemic period.
“This is a very special situation that none of us have experienced before. We had to find out how we could prevent the spread of the virus in the best possible way,” says Hildegunn and points out that the period of time when everyone worked from home allowed her the space she needed to carry out a complete wash down of the Omega buildings.
Hildegunn knows almost everyone who works at Omega's head office and the neighboring buildings in Ølensvåg. She knows who is on holiday, who is ready to have a little chat when she visits their office during her cleaning rounds, and who just needs to be left alone to get on with their work. Often, the chatting and smiling in the hallways is as important as the cleaning job itself.
“You get good at reading both people and situations in this job. I see, for example, very quickly if there has been a meeting in a meeting room just because a couple of chairs are slightly out of place and a pen is left on the table.”
Back problems have led to Hildegunn working less than full time in recent years. Her workdays are now divided between purchasing for, and working in, the canteen in the Omega building and cleaning the neighbouring, ‘Medvind’ offices. She hopes that the retirement years ahead will be spent with children and grandchildren and on motorhome trips with her husband.
“I would like to contribute as a substitute on occasion, but not if too much time passes between each of my visits to Omega. If I don’t know the routines anymore, then things stop up,” she says and smiles.
“But now I’ll have more time to cheer on the grandchildren when they play football. That’s when I really enjoy myself.”
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