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Recently I said to a client that I only work 32 hours a week. “That’s possible at INNOQ? A part-time consultant? I thought you all had 70-hour weeks and jetted around the world”.
When most people think of the job title “consultant”, the experiences of staff in large strategy consulting firms spring to mind. They tend to start in their mid-20s, work 70 hours a week, and travel a lot. The majority only survive about three and a half years. A consultant at INNOQ only has the job title in common with other firms. For a look at why this is, here are three testimonials from INNOQ colleagues.
When I started looking for a job, my twins were still only 4 years old. It was not my first thought to apply to a consulting firm. The perception I had of working as a consultant was too different from what seemed compatible with my private life. So, I tended to apply to companies where I expected conventional working hours and family-friendly structures. However, my wish for part-time employment (80%, i.e., “large” part-time) was not generally met with approval. A full-time position was clearly preferred by the employers. Although there is a right to part-time work, in reality it was different – at least for me.
At that time, someone recommended I apply to INNOQ. Even though management consultancies were not initially on my list, it became clear during the application process that INNOQ does not see itself as a consulting company that flies its employees to customers from Monday to Thursday and expects them to be available 24 hours a day.
After two and a half years (with me a little older, even if the children are still young), I have indeed discovered that with INNOQ a job as a consultant and a healthy private life are compatible.
First, it was no problem to get a part-time contract, even if the maximum number of part-time hours was still preferred.
Second, the contractual option to work from home made a big difference to me. Of course in a consulting firm, and depending on the project, we often work on the client’s premises, so it has to be agreed with the client how much time is spent on-site. My experience is that very pragmatic and family-friendly solutions can be found here. I have so far worked in a project where I was supposed to be present at the client for two days every two weeks, which was easy for me to organize. Like all my colleagues since Covid-19, I have worked exclusively from home.
Other areas of work at INNOQ also do not conform to the widespread consultancy cliché. There is no dress code, no one has to wear a suit and it is “casual Friday” virtually every day. We have time to educate ourselves. There are flat hierarchies and cooperation on an equal footing, with few rigid requirements. These points aren’t necessarily relevant in terms of compatibility of family and career, but they do make work quite pleasant.
Recently I read that still only a minority of fathers take parental leave. Naively, that surprised me a lot because at INNOQ it’s completely normal. I was on parental leave for a few months in both 2016 and 2018 and it was great to see a bit more of my children’s everyday life. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve been working part-time at 80% ever since.
Another big advantage for me is that my work is very independent of where I live. My wife changed her career last year, and we moved from the Rhineland to Luebeck as a result. Although I no longer live near an INNOQ office, almost nothing has changed for me professionally. I worked a lot from home already before the pandemic. When the virus is eventually defeated, I will probably work at the INNOQ office in Hamburg two or three times a month, depending on the project situation. I can determine the exact arrangement myself so that there is a good mix of “working in peace”, “seeing colleagues”, “cutting down on commuting”, and “getting out for a change”.
In between customer projects, I also work on internal activities from time to time. Especially in these times, it’s no problem to arrange the working hours completely flexibly and I can always find free time for family and hobbies.
When my son was 3 years old I started seeking a change professionally. We had originally quite naively planned to both work full-time after parental leave, but then quickly realized that this was not working well for us. Similar to Lena and Philipp, I had decided at that time to reduce my working hours to 30 per week. This was not a problem with my employer at the time.
Finding a new part-time job, however, turned out to be more difficult than initially assumed. An astonishing number of companies ended the application process early on this basis.
INNOQ was recommended to me by a friend. I had not worked as a consultant before, nor did I expect the job to be compatible with my ideas of reduced working hours and being tied to a specific location. I also did not expect to fit the INNOQ profile from a technological perspective – I had perceived INNOQ as a more Java-oriented consulting firm. Contrary to these concerns, we were able to agree on a part-time contract (80%) right in the first interview. Furthermore, it was agreed that I would only work on remote projects or projects in Berlin.
My only on-site appointments outside of Berlin are INNOQ events. Apart from during the pandemic, these take place roughly every other month and last two to three days each. Since the dates of the events are always known a year in advance, they are easy to plan for.
Working remotely was theoretically possible in my previous job, but for long periods was the exception rather than the norm. On most projects, I can now work at the customer’s site, at INNOQ’s Berlin office, or at home. I can decide this spontaneously every day. This absolute flexibility is extremely helpful when one has children and would be an important criterion for my next position.
Projects only last for a limited period of time, so unlike in most other professions, it is easy to react to changing life situations. The conditions depend entirely on the project in question, as INNOQ makes virtually no stipulations. When my son was in full-time daycare, I had projects where I worked full-time on-site at the customer. Once he started school, I started to make sure that my physical presence was not essential in the projects so that I could be more flexible regarding pick-up times.
Of course, if I am in an inflexible phase this can mean that I am unable to work on interesting projects – for example, my presence in the respective customer office would be necessary, or my weekly hours are too low.