Spotlight on – Flexible and Mobile Work
How Patricia Gómez Herden Sees Work-life Balance at Unic.
I have been with Unic as an application architect for SAP Commerce Cloud since autumn 2011, and I also support other digital commerce projects – always with a focus on the specific system architecture. I work 75%, distributed across five working days per week, and it is up to me whether I work in the Karlsruhe office or from home. Apart from my various roles at Unic, I share household duties and a beautiful allotment with my husband and two children.
Smart work has become a bit of a buzzword. What it means is optimising your own way of working while increasing job satisfaction. To do this, our staff use new technologies and new developments in peripheral devices they’re already familiar with to reduce their overall workload and create more breathing space in their personal lives.
How flexible can you really make your working time at Unic?
Since we are bound by the opening times of the nursery school, my schedule is pretty conventional: Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3 pm. However, my department always creates flexibility when necessary. It is a give-and-take between individual employees and the customers. This means I can plan a checkup at the paediatrician during the day to compensate for a go-live at night.
How do you achieve a good balance between working in the office and working remotely?
It is less complicated than you might think, because neither my team nor my customers are based in Karlsruhe. Even if I were to go into the office every day, I would have to communicate with them online. But I still try to go to the Karlsruhe office at least once a week. It is always a nice change and often very helpful to talk to colleagues from other projects.
Which of the many technologies and tools available do you draw on for support?
I could not image working without the internet, VPN or the cloud in today’s world. They provide flexibility, structure and security. I use paperless processes, which are much more efficient for collaboration, whether internally at Unic or externally with customers.
To achieve a good balance between work and private life, you need to plan well and be prepared to compromise. How does that work for you?
Of course, it is not easy to juggle everything – I am replying to this with a child in my lap 😊. But it would be even more tiring, if not impossible, if Unic didn’t offer part-time positions or if I had to come into the office every day.
And to be honest, for me, work is a nice change from the day-to-day challenges of life with the kids. I lose myself in my work completely, and it really helps me switch off for a while.
How does Unic support you as an employer?
First of all, Unic is always accommodating, no matter which plans I need to change. This is a key factor that helps resolve a lot of work-related issues. For example, when I came back after a year of parental leave, my job was waiting for me – while in other companies, you will often find that your role or position has changed after your return and you were not consulted. However, it was not easy to return to my field, because technologies do not go on parental leave.
Internal CoPs, time for professional development and the support of my colleagues made that possible for me – twice.
When I came back after a year of parental leave, my job was waiting for me.
Flexible Working Time Models
Fortunately, flexible working time models are no longer the exception. How do you distribute your workload?
As I said, I work five days per week, six hours per day. So far, that has worked out nicely. I also rarely run into any time-critical issues because meetings tend to take place in the mornings. In some cases, you can also have certain events or meetings recorded and catch up later.
When you work part-time, you run the risk of taking on more work than your working model actually allows. How do you achieve balance in your daily life?
When you reduce your working hours, people often say: “You will work the same hours as before, but for less money!” Personally, I cannot confirm that. Maybe you work with more focus and intensity, precisely because you have less time on your hands. But since I am in charge of coordinating what I do with my team and our customers, I usually also get that work done within my usual timeslot.
Leave and Free Time
At Unic, we see flexible workloads and working times as a given. As well as taking unpaid leave, employees can purchase additional days off.
I have personally not purchased any additional time off, but I think it is great that the option exists. It is reassuring to know that I could make use of that, should anything be happening in the family.
Summary of Work-life Balance at Unic
What’s your take on work-life balance at Unic?
The various changes over the past few years, also thanks to Covid, have definitely made it easier to find balance. The option to work from home, without a fixed requirement for presence, helps master day-to-day challenges better – be it in the family, in the company or in terms of your personal well-being. Unic cares a lot about the well-being of employees: If I’m not feeling great, say, because I am on my period, it’s no problem at all for me to sign off for a bit and take a nap.
The changes over the past few years have definitely made it easier to find balance.
Which freedoms do you particularly appreciate?
Flexible working time and mobile work have made my life a lot easier. Other options such as unpaid time off or purchasing extra days off are nice to have, and I might consider using them at some point in the future.
It is the people who make Unic and drive it forward. The section "Spotlight on" gives an insight into what distinguishes our experts. They not only present their field of expertise, but also show their very personal perspectives and tell us what drives them and what fascinates them.