esentri inside

What would you do if your working week were only four days?

Michael Erlekam
Michael Erlekam

Engage in a kindergarten and plant some freedom flowers

There were many things that made me join esentri a year ago. The way we work together as a team, the structures that offer a lot of possibilities to actively participate and create something innovative as well as engagement with the customer at a very professional level. Last but not least, there is one thing that convinced me even more to continue my career at esentri: The chance to have a management position with a four-day working week. 

The first four days of the week I provide all my professional and personal knowledge to our customers, helping them to create their perfect work environment. The fifth day, I dedicate my time and knowledge to non-profit organisations or individuals who have great ideas. At some point there is often an IT professional needed to put ideas into practice, but there aren’t the funds available. Additionally, I am usually talking to people with little or no IT background so I have to adjust my wording completely and need to be able to explain quite complex things so that they can be understood by everyone. Once this is done, we need to find a solution that is not too expensive but high quality. In the end, I often find myself with a broader knowledge. That of course has a positive impact on my regular projects. Since I started my newly structured working weeks, I feel more creative and productive than ever. To make it clearer, I would like to illustrate it with two concrete projects from this year. In the first project, a kindergarten went digital and in the second a big square in the Munich city centre started to blossom within three days.

The little digitization of a kindergarten

The purpose of a kindergarten is to provide an environment for children where they can develop themselves and receive appropriate support for whatever they might need in their own individual situations. On the other hand, kindergartens are like small companies that have to deal with all kinds of administrative tasks such as hiring employees and taking care of them, following all rules and regulations with regard to fire or sanitation or keeping an eye on all the financial aspects – just to name a few. Usually, there are also many people working together to complete the administrative tasks: The managing board, the head of the kindergarten, maybe an administrative employee, etc. And especially in a kindergarten, there is a lot of personal information about the children and the parents; necessary to work with the families, but essential to keep very safe. In order to ensure a high security standard, but at the same time make it possible for all those different people to work together from their different places, we found an interesting solution that is also hosted in Germany. 

We simply introduced an open-source platform called nextcloud that encrypts sensitive data and securely synchronises it between the involved parties i.e. the kindergarten itself, the board of parents, the accountant and the secretary. It also enables the right management with regards to who can see/do what, so that now there is no need to send any documents via mail. All relevant information is always well organised, always available and the kindergarten can focus again on its main purpose.  

Flowers for Peace 

From time to time, it’s not the IT that enables or enforces a big change or makes the big impact, but the right idea at the right time might still come from the IT-folks and can be of great support. As in the case where a Munich artist, Walther Kuhn, had the idea to transform Königsplatz in Munich into a blooming field of 3000 poppies made out of viscose silk. The flowers should be a sign to remember the armed truce of World War I on 11th of November 1918, that is 100 years ago. The red poppies where the first plants growing on the soldiers’ graves after World War I and II and are a worldwide symbol to remember all the people who lost their lives in both wars. Additionally, the flowers are meant to be a symbol to remind everyone in the year 2018 how senseless wars are and to give all the power we have for a peaceful world. 

The artist had a lot to do to organise the space and get all the approvals from the local government. He had to design the flowers, have them produced and in the end, “plant” them. At that stage he realised, that he would need a lot of volunteers to support him by drilling holes in the ground and putting the 80 centimetre high flowers into the holes. He also thought that it would be good to have around six people each day, from 11th November to 2nd December at Königsplatz for the duration of the exhibition. The volunteers should be outside in the “fields” to provide information to the people walking by and also in the “black box”, where visitors could go inside and listen to the words of witnesses from different wars, read and recorded by pupils, plus additional information about the whole installation. 

But how should he coordinate those several hundred volunteers? IT-folks? For us it seems pretty clear, but as mentioned at the start, it’s not always about the big solution, just the right idea at the right time. So we used several doodle-events to organise the different topics. And there you go… of course, we also organised a bunch of people planting some flowers. In the end everything went well, the plants got seeded, the response was overwhelmingly positive and attracted visitors and attention from all parts of the world, not least from an article in the Washington Post. The result can be seen in the picture at the top of this post and can be visited until 2nd December at Königsplatz in Munich.

All in all, I am grateful to Robert, our CEO. When he hired me, he told me about esentri and that he wants a company where people and their interests matter, because he is convinced that happy employees do a great job. And so it is.