At VertiGIS, we strive to always support the mental and physical well-being of our employees. We know that employees with a positive work-life balance will excel and be happier – both at work and in other areas of their lives.
We recently took some time to speak with Daniela Struchen, Head of Professional Services in Switzerland, about how she achieves work-life balance. Daniela is a mother of three-year-old twins, a volunteer firefighter, and a leader at VertiGIS. With a lot on her plate – both personally and professionally – Daniela shares how VertiGIS has supported her in making the most of all she is doing.
Would you say that you have a positive work-life balance in all areas of your life?
[DS] Definitely, I have balance both at work and in my private life at home. It’s important to decide for yourself how to live your role as a parent, but I know for myself, I am a better mother when I can separate my work and home life and really enjoy both.
How has VertiGIS helped to support your work-life balance?
[DS] After I had my twins, I requested to return to work with a reduced workload. This request was approved by my supervisor with no issues. I was given the opportunity to choose which days I would like to work and which days I would like off. I was able to return on a part-time (60%) basis to my position of Head of Professional Services and continue to lead my team of 13. I feel fortunate that I have such a talented, independent team who have made this transition easy and allowed me to organize my work life in the way that works for me as a parent.
Do the skills you have gained at work translate to your home life?
[DS] Absolutely. As a mother of twins, it is important to stay organized. I have always been an organized employee and I can now use those skills in my home life with my kids. Outside of work I am not only a mother, but also a volunteer firefighter and an officer in the fire department. Being an officer requires strong leadership skills. My experience leading a team of 13 consultants at VertiGIS has helped me enormously to also grow as a leader in other areas of my life.
VertiGIS allows its employees a lot of personal freedom through flexible working models and work from home arrangements. How has this flexibility played into your everyday life?
[DS] The flexibility that VertiGIS offers to start work at 7:00am if I would like, or to end the day earlier if I need, has been a great help in balancing my family and my career, especially with young children. Being able to work from home has also been helpful. I usually spend 1 day a week in the office or with customers and the rest of my workdays at home. This arrangement has offered me the flexibility and freedom to make the most of all areas of my life.
The flexibility that VertiGIS offers me has been amazing, but it’s also been important to me that I am flexible when it comes to progressing at work. Sometimes this means sending my kids to an extra day of daycare when I have big projects or lots of meetings. It’s important to me that I am still doing my part to contribute to the company.
What support do you give to your team to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance?
[DS] My team members know that I will always give them the same flexibility I have received at VertiGIS. They can organize their working hours themselves; some start the day earlier, others later. They can also work from wherever they want unless they need to be on-site for a specific reason, for example if a project requires them to visit a customer’s location. If they have something urgent come up at home, I give them the flexibility they need and just ask that they inform me. I have complete trust in my team, which is critical for maintaining this flexibility.
To promote a positive work-life balance, VertiGIS often hosts company parties and staff events. Do these activities enrich your work-life balance?
[DS] For me these activities do have a big impact on my work-life balance. Being able to get together as a team helps us to grow together within the company. My team structure is quite strong because we are all located in Switzerland. This makes it easy for us to get together in person and bond on a personal level. We all meet once a month at one of VertiGIS’ Swiss locations for team meetings and to have a meal or drinks together.
Being able to get together with colleagues from other teams at company events also helps to strengthen team spirit and encourages the building of relationships – both personal and professional. In Switzerland, for example, we have a Christmas dinner party every year where staff get together with each other and their families for some fun and celebration.
Managing work, family obligations, and free time can be difficult when workloads are high. How do you manage this challenge for yourself?
[DS] At home I rely on my family’s help for childcare when needed. At work I have lots of support from my supervisor. I’ve never felt torn when it comes to managing work commitments. I know that if an emergency or something comes up at home, I’ll have the support from my team needed to deal with it. With two small children, I’ve been fortunate to be able to have a part-time workload right now. In the future I see myself looking to increase my workload. I know that when that time comes, VertiGIS will provide the professional support I need to continue to advance my career in a larger capacity.
What do you do in your own life to maintain a positive work-life balance?
[DS] At work there are goals and targets set by management that need to be achieved. To meet these, I build plans and delegate within my team to ensure we have what we need to accomplish our goals effectively. When speaking with my supervisor I offer suggestions on how these goals can be reached and I have a lot of flexibility to do what works best for myself and my team.My supervisor and I work together to make sure that everyone on the team has what they need to be successful both at work and at home.
I believe that maintaining a successful work-life balance has a lot to do with making the most out of a given situation. It’s important to take things in your life into your own hands and determine the best move forward. VertiGIS offers the support that I need to make decisions for myself when it comes to my work-life balance. Thanks to the support that I have received I’ve been able to continue to hold a management position with a reduced workload while raising my children.
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