The past twelve months have been beyond exceptional and nobody can deny the impacts the global corona pandemic had on our daily lives. However, there were many positives. Our working environment had to quickly adapt to the new situation and employers and employees just the same had to accommodate to the new circumstances. Continued or exclusive work from remote has become “the new normal” – and to everyone’s surprise, it is working just as well. Employees at Foundation Medicine GmbH in Germany have experienced more flexibility to their schedule, fewer hours spent in traffic due to daily commute, and virtual meetings with participants around the globe conducted on an equal footing.
At Foundation Medicine GmbH, Foundation Medicine's European subsidiary located within the Roche Campus in Penzberg, Germany, the motto “Empower EVERY Employee” has always been one of the most important guiding principles to support our mission of transforming cancer care. Due to the new work environment, this has received a new and unprecedented intension and dynamic. The aim is to allow employees more creative opportunities in scheduling their time, to become more flexible in bringing work and family under one roof, and to enable a better work-life balance for everyone.
This ties perfectly to one of our other goals, which is to foster equality. The guidelines on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are not empty phrases, but are implemented in our daily operations. In particular, the feeling of belonging and inclusion is important to Vera , VP, International Operations & Managing Director Foundation Medicine GmbH: “People come first and we empower EVERY Employee. Everyone is given maximum responsibility for their role, receives trust and freedom and, most importantly, is deployed and developed, but also challenged, according to their personal strengths and talents. Everyone is empowered to actively shape the development of our company! Work is much more than just a job. It’s really fun and passion!”
Supporting Parents to Be
The first example of enhancements made to improve this new working experience includes an increase in parental leave. With immediate effect, Foundation Medicine GmbH will top up the parental allowance for employees on parental leave for the first three months of their leave so that original net earnings are reached. “With this benefit, we would like to both support our expectant parents and to invest in our future. With this increase in parental benefits, we are ensuring that we are an attractive employer for many talented people,” says Vera.
Architectural Design to Avoid Silo Thinking
In addition to an enhanced work-life balance, we also promote a new work culture that is more flexible and agile. We rely on flat hierarchies and a matrix organization in which teams work together on a project-oriented basis. This philosophy is also reflected in the architecture of the newly designed office spaces, which we will return to when it is safe to do so. There are hardly any individual offices. The atmosphere is characterized by transparency and openness without having the disadvantages of an open-plan office. “This architecture is immensely important for us as a place where people come together. We want to offer a flexible working environment that can be customized as far as possible,” says Christian, Dir, Business Administration. “In this way, we also want to appeal to talented people who are specifically looking for an innovative working atmosphere.”
Remote Working as a Long-Term Trend
Working from home continuously during the ongoing pandemic has also revealed disadvantages. Instead of short constructive conversations in the hallway or over a cup of coffee, the number of telephone conferences and video calls increases steadily, which can lead to “Zoom fatigue”. Here, too, it's the mix that counts. Mobile working will continue to be much more important than it has been in the past, and it is precisely the combination of mobile and on-site working that offers considerable advantages over exclusive presence at the workplace. Christian emphasizes, “We are very aware that maintaining the team spirit which made us successful in the first place is crucial. On the other hand, what better thing can we do for our employees than to enable flexible working where the job allows it? We will continue to promote flexible working after COVID, depending on the area of activity, with the occasional arrangement to fully remote.” To ensure a seamless transition into this mix of mobile and on-site work, we have undergone a complete re-design in our Penzberg office. All meeting rooms are now technically equipped to allow video calls and telephone conferences, and even small seating areas are equipped with monitors. The large open kitchen with long tables and the scattered seating areas between the office areas will continue to invite spontaneous conversations once we return to the office.
This timely combination of individual measures and projects, which provide an outlook on how work can be designed in the future, demonstrates the innovative power of Foundation Medicine GmbH. All of this work was recently recognized when the company was voted one of the Top 100 most innovative companies in Germany. We are proud of our wonderful culture that helps us all do our best work to transform cancer care for patients.