“We are DMK”. No-one lives and breathes the cooperative’s motto more than the Heptners. They are a real DMK family. Mum Lena and Dad Kai both work together in the CQM department at the Bremen location.
But they are now at home with their sons Till and Fero in Ofen/Bad Zwischenahn and are managing the balancing act between work and family.
This requires a lot of discipline, as Lena Heptner reports: “Before the coronavirus outbreak, my husband took the children to day-care in the morning and then went straight to work in Bremen. He was then home for dinner. Now the day-care centres are closed and my husband and I are sharing looking after the children. I watch the sun come up every morning because I work from 5 am to 10 am, then my husband starts work.” “We're glad that the company has enabled us to work like this. I can easily complete my work early in the morning, but my husband has to be available for his employees throughout the day, so the later shift from 10 am is ideal for him”, she continues.
Kai Heptner also seems to have become accustomed to the situation: “The children have got used to the fact that mum and dad are there but cannot always have time for them. Of course, the boys still like to come into the office to see what mum or dad are up to. That’s absolutely fine, especially if you get a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate.
We try as best we can to maintain our normal daily routine with the children. For this reason, we decided to set up a daily schedule for the whole family right from the start. It's important to us that the children don’t feel like every day is the weekend”.
Kai Heptner can see the positives in the current situation. He says: “Before the coronavirus pandemic, I didn't have the time to make things with the children, to paint or to think about projects for the garden. Having time at home allows me to see much more of my boys’ development. Our youngest son, in particular, is very much learning from his older brother and I am always amazed at what he can do already”. “However, I’d easily hand back lunch duties because I know that our children eat much better and more balanced meals at day-care than they do now at home”, he laughs.
But what Lena and Kai really lack is the personal exchange with their colleagues on both an interpersonal and professional level. While both agree that they miss the chats and conversations in the tea room, Kai Heptner, as Head of Department, has the additional challenge of briefing his colleagues from home and coordinating tasks in the best possible way. “It's not at all easy, but it's possible thanks to digital channels”, he says.
And if, after a long day, you still end up getting cabin fever? “Then I look around and am grateful for the fact that we have been able to adjust our everyday life without too much difficulty and that we have a lot of space and a garden. And that we are all healthy”, replies Lena Heptner.