At our Berlin office, we work with the highest degree of flexibility – and think in terms of tasks, not in fixed positions. We are always trying new forms and formats of work and trying every day to live what we preach to the outside world. In our 30-member team, all colleagues work in flexible work models. Currently we have three job-sharing tandems, four interdisciplinary project teams, five freelancers and 12 colleagues with a four-day week. We want to introduce some of them today and explain why we do what we do.
Marion Hellebrandt started as an intern at Tandemploy more than three years ago. She now works in the Product Team and, with her tandem partner Christian, forms the interface between IT and the rest of the team. Marion also has a four-day week; on her day off, she trains as a hospital clown and loves to participate in theater.
As an intern and student trainee, Patrick Stadlmayr gained initial insights into various areas at Tandemploy and is now working in the Customer Happiness Team. Specifically, this means Patrick takes care of web demos for customers, innovation tours through our office, and events. He does that 25 hours a week in order to write literature on the side. At the beginning of this year, he started a sabbatical to devote himself completely to writing, which he’ll continue until May 2019.
Marie Dingler has been part of Tandemploy as a Social Media Manager since December 2018. She spends her 20 hours working three days a week. In addition to her job here with us, she has been writing a food blog for five years and founded her own small jewelry label last year.
Simon Aumayer works as a Frontend Developer at Tandemploy. But he does that only from Monday to Wednesday. On the other two days he devotes his time to other projects as a freelance web designer & developer.
Alicia Metz-Kleine is an editor and is responsible for the blog and all sorts of content at Tandemploy. She works 20 hours a week, spread over 4 days. The rest of the time, she works as a freelance editor and nutrition coach, does her own projects and is a mom. Alicia also works from home in Darmstadt.
Christoph Weber is Digital Marketing Manager at Tandemploy and works 32 hours over 4 days. Christoph uses his day off for free time and for completing organizational tasks that he often doesn’t have time for on workdays. In addition, Christoph has used about half of his free Fridays in the last six months for short trips and weekend getaways.
Why flexible work works for us
We have created very good conditions in recent years for flexible work to really be possible and practical. This is, of course, the case with our flexible forms of work, but it’s also the same for our facilities (for example, a bedroom and children’s room). Many of our colleagues bring their children with them if they wanted to get in early or if their kindergarten is closed. There is also considerable space and understanding for reconciling other kinds of activities (own projects, honorary appointments, etc.). Each team member decides his/her own number of hours per week – we ask for this quite early in the application process and always try to make it possible. So far this has always worked. If more power is needed in an area, it’s achieved through team constellations, sparring partners, or job-sharing partners.
Why we work this way
We have long since done away with the rigid 40-hour week as the de facto best model because some tasks simply need less capacity, while others might need more. In general, it helps us to think in terms of tasks and budgets – and with building our team like a mosaic. Knowledge islands are almost gone; all core competencies are filled and actually met at least twice over.
However, this maximum flexibility requires more structure and discipline than is often seen from the outside. It simply doesn’t work without first reaching good arrangements and considering our colleagues. Our system only works if we really pay attention to each other, reliably coordinate our working hours, communicate transparently, and are absolutely reliable with our results and deadlines.
“If you CAN’T simply rely on the fact that all colleagues are present in the office Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, there needs to be clear rules of the game, a good structure, and an amazing amount of empathy. Digital tools help a lot – very clearly! – but above all, it is about an attitude and the understanding that, in order to work as flexibly as possible, you also have to assume more responsibility (for yourself and others).” Anna Kaiser (Founder & Managing Director)
All the rules of flexible work are developed jointly as a team and regularly reflected on and renegotiated.
This way of cooperating and organizing offers individuals the best possible space for compatibility, motivation, and development of their talents – and thus, of course, best serves the interests of the company as well. In the end, everyone wins.