Our corporate culture

A company's culture is its “DNA.” As such, a company's culture influences not only its ways of working, but also its very success. A company's success depends primarily on the people who work for the company.  We at Deutsche Telekom promote a culture of trust that makes people satisfied and the company successful. We encourage this in several ways – for example, by providing a suitable environment in which our employees feel comfortable and can work effectively. Our culture is shaped by mutual trust and respect, entrepreneurial thinking, and collaborative working. We give our employees room to grow personally and professionally and to make a positive contribution to our company and society through their work. Our corporate culture provides the ”guardrails” for this. It is based on our corporate values, which we have formulated in six Guiding Principles. The Guiding Principles are the basis for our cooperation with each other – and with our customers, shareholders, and the general public. Our Code of Conduct, which is founded on the Guiding Principles, makes our Guiding Principles come alive in tangible ways. It defines the rules for our daily work, including both internal and external work.

In September of each year, we celebrate our “Living Culture Day.” The Living Culture Day provides an opportunity to reflect on our corporate culture and to make it perceptible for all of our employees. In the year under review, our celebration was dubbed “Passion for the future” (“Lust auf Zukunft”). The topics it highlighted included “good leadership” and “inspiring customers.” Also, each year we bestow our Team Award, to honor outstanding teams that uphold our Guiding Principles in their work in exemplary ways. In addition, we invite all employees to take part in an ongoing cultural dialog, in order to help us all integrate our Guiding Principles within our daily work even more effectively. Again and again, this dialog leads to specific measures that make our culture come alive.

A new world of work

The workplace is changing rapidly, and the rate of the change is constantly increasing. Chatbots support customer-service processes, videoconferences take the place of business travel, and artificial intelligence helps out in data analysis. Not surprisingly, employees' job profiles are changing as well. The half-life of knowledge keeps shortening, and core competencies for employees now include a readiness to change, and to learn.

At the same time, employees' expectations with regard to their employers are also changing, in corresponding ways. Employees are expecting employers to offer them more personal freedom, greater flexibility, and less limitation to specific workplace locations.

From such changes, a new balance between trust and responsibility is emerging. Strict controls, and rigid office-time schedules, will become things of the past. Today's competent, committed and entrepreneurially oriented employees are assuming greater responsibility for their work than past employees did. They are also assuming greater responsibility for themselves overall.

As we become the “Leading Digital Telco,” the ways in which we collaborate are changing. At Deutsche Telekom, we call the results of this development “New Work.” This is about more than simply whether employees work in the office or from their homes. It's also about the essence of our work – about whether it is meaningful, and of use to society, and about how it helps take us, as a company, toward our common success.

Our journey toward a new, more flexible, more intelligent, more individual workplace began at least a decade ago. Rather than focusing on structures, this journey emphasizes attitudes and relationships – including relationships among ourselves and with our customers – and is directed at a changed understanding of what leadership should be. Such topics are also a central focus of our corporate culture, which we are developing jointly, as a Living Culture.

This culture supports a transformation process that calls on employees to be willing to change and acquire new skills. This, in turn, presents challenges – challenges that we are addressing with comprehensive skills management and precisely tailored training options.    

Currently, and also as a result of the pandemic's impacts, the framework for our collaboration is defined by five pillars. We invite and expect our employees, in the context of their teams, to help flesh out the specific details of how this framework is applied. With this approach, we can combine the best of both worlds – the physical and the virtual worlds, or the analog and digital worlds.

To this end, and working in cooperation with the Group Works Council, we have produced the “New Work” manifesto. It serves as the basis for interaction characterized by trust and respect. 

Our “Digital@Work” program facilitates our employees' collaboration – with suitable tools and technologies. Also, in the year under review, we began making the new world of work visible at many of our German locations by redesigning our office spaces. We want our offices to invite and inspire employees to collaborate, interact, and carry out hybrid meetings and workshops. Throughout our locations in Germany and abroad, we are setting up spaces for digital collaboration and creativity in which employees can work together, and interdepartmentally, on projects.

Digital collaboration KPI

For effective collaboration in the new world of work, simple, fast and virtual communication is a fundamental requirement. In the pandemic year 2020, the volume of online conferences more than doubled. In 2021, this trend has continued with an increase to over 2.1 billion conference minutes. The number of accounts of telephony and messaging services have not been reported since 2021.

For global exchange, we also use our internal social network "You and Me UNITED" (YAM UNITED) - under the name "You and Me" until 2020. In the reporting year, 138 071 users were registered here.

Corporate culture and the new workplace at T-Systems

The #peoplemakeithappen cultural transformation
In 2021, a great many of the goings-on at T-Systems had to do with “cultural change.” In the framework of a “culture month” at the beginning of the year, the company's top management invited all employees to take part in an open dialog about “respect,” “leadership,” “behavior patterns” and “culture.” The findings, wishes, and expectations of employees that emerged from this process then entered into the design of a new, six-month program for managers. The program was aimed especially at mid-level managers, with training to prepare them for their role as models for the cultural transformation.

Also, the first digital “T-Systems Summer Games” were held, in June 2021. Their purpose was to reinforce the company's sense of community, worldwide – and to take the place, in this regard, of the team meetings that were no longer possible due to the pandemic. For the Games, employees from throughout the world competed in teams, in fun events calling for them to solve strategy problems and test their intercultural knowledge.
Those employees who showed a particularly strong commitment to T-Systems' transformation were then honored in a ”People Week” that took place in September 2021.

T-Systems launched its “#peoplemakeithappen” cultural initiative in 2018. #peoplemakeithappen is aimed at the thought and behavior patterns of the company's employees and managers. It is about delegating responsibility, and engaging in collaboration and self-reflection, on the basis of a common mindset.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the T-Systems workplace, by giving it a stronger focus on virtual working and communicating. The crisis has shown just how important – and strong – our corporate culture is. During it, management has remained in contact with the company's workforce via virtual employee events. The subjects these have covered have included T-Systems' strategy and raison d'être, its culture, and the topics of physical and mental health.

With its “We.Work.New.” program, T-Systems has made use of the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for change. Also, its new hybrid work concept, “activity-based work,” combines the best of two worlds – the home office and the regular office. The basic principle for the concept is “What you do determines where and how you do it.” Teams should have the freedom to decide what activities should take place, and where. The company's offices have also been changed in keeping with the new modes of working. In September 2021, the company opened ten “Meet & Connect Hubs” in Germany, and it reduced its number of standard-desk work areas used via a desk-sharing arrangement. Individual offices have been done away with completely – even for the company's top management. Employees in all company areas sit in a ”booking zone"“– meaning that instead of having permanently assigned offices, employees book desks flexibly, as needed. This arrangement provides the ideal basis for smooth, interdepartmental collaboration. State-of-the-art hardware and software, and new tools for international collaboration, are rounding out the transformation.

Agile transformation
In 2021, the move toward agile work at T-Systems progressed further, with the company making the necessary preparations for becoming agile throughout. Currently, flexible work accounts for about 90 percent of the organization's work. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of this flexible work is being carried out in employees' home offices. Many customer projects are already being carried out via agile-work arrangements. Also, in the year under review, T-Systems introduced the method “Objectives by Key Results” (OKR) – a method for management on the basis of common goals. This development is being coordinated by Agile:Hub, whose staff includes experts for agile work. Among other things, they design training formats and support knowledge-sharing among the teams. A next step, slated for 2022, will take the development to the “"Enterprise Agility” level.

Flexible working models for a wide range of needs at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

Our contribution to the SDGs

In order to help our employees achieve a good work-life balance, and avoid burn-out, we explicitly promote flexible work models. We have set out this orientation in our Group policy “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”. The options we offer our employees in Germany range from flexitime and part time to lifetime work accounts. This has paid off especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, in that our employees have been able to structure their working hours flexibly and adapt to the new challenges posed by the pandemic.

Promoting part-time work
We support the establishment of part-time jobs and guarantee employees in Germany the possibility to return to their original weekly working hours. The following policy applies for our employees: Employees are permitted to reduce their working hours as they wish, subject to operational requirements, and they may terminate their part-time work at any time, even earlier than originally planned. About 14 percent of employees covered by collective agreements, and 18.2 percent of civil servants, are making use of part-time arrangements (as of Dec. 31, 2021). In addition, a total of 29 executives are working part-time (as of Dec. 31, 2021).

Job sharing
In job sharing, two employees share one full-time position. They can flexibly divide up their total working hours, tasks, and areas of responsibility. The arrangement is also available for management positions. In such cases, the managers collaborate closely and share responsibility for their team and its success.

Mobile working
Thanks to modern communications technology, in many different fields we can work when and where we wish. Mobile working arrangements are an established part of the Deutsche Telekom workplace, and such options are enshrined in the collective agreement on mobile working that we concluded with the union ver.di in 2016. Employees are free to choose their work locations; they do not have to confine their work to a designated room in their apartment or house, as is the case with teleworking.  Needless to say, they do not have to be available to the company at all times, meaning they do not have to stay reachable after working hours, during vacation or on weekends. Mobile working is also possible in many national companies.

Part-time training
Under certain circumstances, apprentices at Deutsche Telekom can take their training on a part-time basis. Also, dual students, including students who are single parents, have the option of completing their study program on a part-time basis.

Remaining in contact during parental leave
Via our “Stay in contacT” parental-leave process, we give employees the option to stay in contact with the company and their colleagues. By doing so, they stay abreast of what's happening at Deutsche Telekom, and they continue to feel connected to their team. Also, their re-entry into the workplace becomes easier to plan. Via the "Stay in contacT" online network, they can discuss and learn about topics such as work-life balance and re-entry into the workplace.

Lifetime work accounts and leave of absence
The majority of employees in Germany can set up a long-term work-time account, called lifetime work account, in order to implement an individual life plan. Such accounts can be used to accumulate work-time credit by means of gross deferred compensation or by conversion of up to 80 overtime hours per year. In total, 14 276 employees, and 671 civil servants, are making use of this option (as of Dec. 31, 2021). The credit can be used for a sabbatical, earlier retirement, or a higher part-time salary. Employees also have the option of taking unpaid leave – for example, in order to care for their children, or to accept paid work with a different employer.

Leave of absence for personal reasons
Employees have the option of requesting leave of absence at short notice for special reasons, after consulting with, and obtaining the approval of, their manager. This option is available, for example, for employees who need to serve as caregivers for family members or to take care of sick children. In such cases, during the individually agreed period, employees are exempt from performing their work and their salary is suspended within five days at the latest. All other aspects of the employment relationship remain unaffected.

Time off for education
Time off for education is based on the current offer of unpaid leave and makes it possible for employees in Germany to take up to four years off for a degree course or a doctorate. The employment contract is put on hold during this time and the employee does not receive any pay. Civil servants employed at the company can also take advantage of this offer in the form of a “leave of absence without pay for reasons of private interest.” This time does not apply to their pension and no remuneration is paid.

The 80/20 model
Since 2017, we have been using the 80/20 model to give our employees the opportunity to spend part of their working time on projects outside of their usual remit. This allows them to work with teams from other departments. Use of the model is voluntary and is tied to a specific Group project.

Phased retirement
We offer phased retirement for employees who are 55 or older. This offer does not apply only in Germany; it is available to our employees throughout the Group. Separate regulations apply to employees and to civil servants. There are two options for phased retirement: the block model or the part-time model. During the year under review, a total of 1 985 phased retirement contracts were concluded with employees, including employees covered by collective agreements and employees not so covered. Among civil servants there were 580 such contracts (as of Dec. 31, 2021).

Underlying regulations
These working time models are based on the laws and regulations applicable in the individual countries. Working hours at Deutsche Telekom in Germany are governed by collective agreements and works agreements. We document the daily working hours of our employees covered by collective agreements by means of electronic time recording in MyPortal or via the EmployeeApp (“MitarbeiterApp”). This guarantees compliance with legal and company regulations; for example, it ensures that the weekly working hours for a specific flexitime balancing period are complied with. At a large corporation like Deutsche Telekom, regulations are diverse and cannot be fully specified for all the Group companies.

FreiRaum – More free time, thanks to more-flexible work-time arrangements
In the last round of collective bargaining (2021), the ver.di union and T-Systems reached agreement on a new, optional working-time model, which we now offer to all employees working for T-Systems International GmbH. Via the model, entitled “FreiRaum,” employees who work a five-day week can receive an additional 12 days off per calendar year. For employees who use this option, the employee's salary is reduced proportionately, and T-Systems provides a partial compensatory wage compensation. FreiRaum, which complements existing flexible working-time models, thus gives employees more time to invest in their quality of life. The new model is scheduled to run until the end of 2022. Some 300 employees made use of the model in the year under review.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 404 (Training and Education)


Achieving a good work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom

We offer our employees attractive options and services to help them achieve a better work-life balance. Our efforts in this area include providing flexible family-friendly options, carrying out effective health promotion and establishing work-life balance as a permanent part of our corporate culture. In Germany, the range of options and services includes the following:

  • Childcare services: At a number of locations with large numbers of employees, we provide childcare facilities, holiday childcare programs, and parent-and-child offices.
  • Free advisory and referral services: Through our cooperating partner “awo lifebalance GmbH” and an online service, we support our employees in the areas of childcare (including emergency care), caregiving for family members, and household services.
  • Employee networks: Through various networks, such as the “Fathers' Network” and “Stay in contacT,” we provide tips on balancing work and family life, as well as contacts and discussion forums.
  • Family fund: We support employee projects that help employees improve their work-life balance.
  • Social fund: We provide fast financial aid to employees who find themselves in financial difficulties through no fault of their own. We also offer subsidies for recreational activities for severely disabled children.
  • Welfare service: Through this foundation, we support employees in emergency situations, such as deaths in the family, serious illness, social crises, and natural disasters. For example, we offer special courses for women suffering from cancer. We also provide assistance for employees' children who are studying at a university.
  • Recreation Service: Working through this service, we offer our employees access to reasonably priced vacations at attractive destinations in Germany and Europe – for example, at one of our 18 company-owned resorts.

Our complete range of options and services for helping employees achieve a better work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom in Germany can be found at www.telekom.com/work-life.

Work-life balance is also promoted at our national companies. In addition to general options such as mobile-working and flexitime arrangements, individualized arrangements and measures are offered, such as the “SmartWork” model available at our national company in Croatia. It enables all employees to individually structure their working environment and working conditions. In Hungary, we are also committed to maintaining a healthy work-life balance by reducing overtime or promoting flexible working hours. Employees can also receive support upon re-entry into working life following parental leave. In the year under review, employees with children under the age of 14 received temporary leave, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in cases in which they were unable to organize after-school childcare. In Austria, there are company childcare facilities and holiday childcare programs for the employees’ children. The OTE Group in Greece offers summer camps during the holidays, with sports, entertainment, and creative activities for children.

In 2019, T-Mobile US established the “TechX Returnship” program, which assists employees in returning to the workplace following leaves of absence. Initially, it was aimed solely at women in tech-centric fields who had taken leaves of absence in order to provide care to family members or stay at home with their children. In 2020, the program was opened to veterans, in recognition of the difficulties that veterans often encounter in entering (returning to) the civilian workplace following their military service. From November 2020 to May 2021, a total of 23 women and three men have completed the full-time, paid, return-to-work program. The program can be considered a success in that about 92 percent of that group found subsequent employment with T-Mobile US. In 2022, the program is being further expanded, with a focus on people who, during the pandemic, have been forced to leave the workplace due to factors such as a lack of childcare for their children. A total of 37 positions, in the areas of technology, consumer markets, human resources, and finance, need to be filled.

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