Our corporate culture

A company’s culture is its DNA. As such, it influences not only its ways of working, but also its very success. Its culture is primarily shaped by 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 characterized 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.

A fundamental part of our corporate culture is our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Policy, which defines the course for decisions at all levels of our company. Our goal is to promote a culture of belonging in which everyone gets what they need to capture their full potential. We are firmly convinced that this will contribute to our success as a global telecommunications provider and employer.

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  to make it perceptible for all of our employees around the world. In the reporting year, our celebration had the motto The Power of WE. The topics it highlighted included teamwork and cohesion. The hybrid, live-streamed event was held at Magenta Telekom in Vienna in 2022. 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 pace of the changes is constantly increasing. Chatbots support our customer service, videoconferences can take the place of business travel, and artificial intelligence helps out with 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 expect 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 taking 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 over 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. Our Guiding Principle “Act with respect and integrity,” for example, entails that everyone should feel like they belong and be given the opportunity to capture their full potential. To achieve this goal, we support our managers and employees, for example, with training courses on all aspects of diversity.  

We examine the transformation of the workplace in detail with our “NewWork@Telekom” magazine, which we publish several times per year. In the issue “From today to tomorrow” (only available in German) from October 2022, we explored how our labor market will change and identified the cultural and technological drivers that will characterize our jobs of tomorrow, among other topics.

We also examined changes in the world of work during the reporting year in our New Work podcast “Frohes Schaffen. Neues Schaffen” (Pleasant work. New work.- only available in German). In it, we talked about what it means to work in a digital world, what new opportunities are arising in the labor market, and how competencies and job profiles are changing.

Currently, 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, we are continuously working to make the new world of work visible through the design and further optimization of 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 on projects and across units.

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 2022, the 11.8 percent decline in conference minutes shows that there were more face-to-face meetings again. Surpassing the 2 billion mark last year, our employees spent around 1.9 billion minutes in virtual conferences in 2022. Still a high figure compared to previous years. 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, 128 609 users were registered here.

Corporate culture and the new workplace at T-Systems

The #peoplemakeithappen cultural transformation
In 2022, a great many of the goings-on at T-Systems had to do with “culture and change”. T-Systems launched its “#peoplemakeithappen” cultural initiative back 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 “T Mindset.”  In this context, the first issue of the culture magazine People Make It Happen was published in English and German at the start of the reporting year. In this issue, employees from all over the world reported on what the T Mindset means for them and how it helps them with their everyday work.

In June 2022, the “Change & Transformation (C&T)” leadership team met to develop approaches to align corporate culture more closely with the company’s success in the long term. Together with other teams at T-Systems, 140 ideas for achieving a better balance between corporate culture and performance were developed. A screening process reduced this lengthy list to ten proposals, from which the C&T leadership team selected three and implemented them during the reporting year. What managers should do:

  • Take enough time to make the purpose of their individual tasks transparent to employees
  • Organize regular “Let’s talk” sessions within the teams, ensuring that there is enough room and time for an open exchange regarding employees’ concerns
  • Set priorities and thus gain time for effective, customer-centric work

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 which activities should take place in which environment.

The company’s offices have also been modified in keeping with the new modes of working. The company opened ten “Meet & Connect Hubs” in Germany in September 2021 and finalized them in the reporting year. Concurrently, the number of standard desk-sharing workplaces was reduced. Individual offices have been done away with completely – even for the company’s top management. Since then, each employee has been assigned to a booking zone, which means they can book desk workplaces within this zone flexibly and on demand, instead of having dedicated offices. This is an ideal prerequisite for seamless, cross-unit collaboration. State-of-the-art hardware and software, as well as new tools for international collaboration, are rounding out the transformation.

In the framework of the “Return to Office” program, many employees started returning to the offices from March 2022 onward. On this occasion, the T-System teams at the ten “Meet & Connect Hubs" celebrated  the “Reconnect Days” with many special events.

After these “Reconnect Days”, T-Systems conducted a global employee survey to measure satisfaction with the events and facilities of the “Meet & Connect Hubs”. Questions included the frequency of office visits and potential reasons why employees prefer to work from home. Over000 employees participated in the survey. The analysis of the survey revealed that aside from informal discussions, events and meetings with colleagues are the main reason why many T-Systems employees come to the office locations.

The “We.Work.New” project was officially concluded in late September 2022. The activity-based new way of working has become well established in the meantime.

Agile img transformation
Agile transformation at T-Systems continued to pay a major role in 2022. To put the entire company on an agile img footing, T-Systems established lean portfolio management during the reporting year, another element of enterprise agility img. In contrast to classic project management, this method makes it possible to align the portfolio and strategy in such a way as to ensure that the “right solution” can always be provided at the “right time,” helping to increase the efficiency of the processes. The number of employees who use agile principles in their different methods and forms increased by 30 percent after the new approach was introduced. In addition, the flexible organization, which was already established across the board in Germany, was incrementally rolled out worldwide in the reporting year. To this end, managers and T-Systems were given training and reinforcement with regard to their role and that of collaboration within a flexible organization. Over 90 percent of managers at international level took part in this training in 2022. What’s more, T-Systems embedded the Objectives by Key Results (OKR img) method throughout its organization, following its introduction in 2021. Among other elements, experts developed training formats for teaching agile work methods.

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 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Policy. The options we offer our employees in Germany range from flexitime and part-time to lifetime work accounts.

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. Subject to operational requirements, employees are permitted to reduce their working hours as they wish. In addition, 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 17.7 percent of civil servants, are making use of part-time arrangements (as of Dec. 31, 2022). In addition, a total of 29 executives are working part-time (as of Dec, 31, 2022).

Mobile working
Thanks to modern communications technology, in many different fields we can work when and where we wish. Mobile working has been firmly established at Deutsche Telekom. Our employees can organize their work locations flexibly, a right we enshrined in our collective agreement on mobile working concluded with the ver.di union back in 2016. 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 of our 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 cooperative 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. They thus stay abreast of what’s happening at Deutsche Telekom, and they continue to feel connected to their team. In addition, 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 lifetime work account in order to implement their personal life plan. Such accounts can be used to accumulate credit by means of gross deferred compensation or by conversion of up to 80 overtime hours per year. In total, we have set up 15 000 accounts for employees and 740 accounts for civil servants (as of Dec. 31, 2022). The credit can be used for a sabbatical, earlier retirement, or a top-up for a 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. During the individually agreed period, employees are exempted from the performance of their duties. Pay is suspended after 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 units. Use of the model is voluntary and is tied to a specific Group project.  

Phased retirement
We offer a phased retirement model to our employees in Germany who are 55 or older. 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 reporting year, a total of766 phased retirement contracts were concluded with employees both covered and not covered by collective agreements. For civil servants, 523 such contracts were signed (as of Dec. 31, 2022).

Underlying regulations
Our 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. 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 – better quality of life through flexible working hours
The FreiRaum (leeway) working time model at T-Systems was extended through the year 2023 as part of the 2022 collective bargaining negotiations. The ver.di union and T-Systems reached agreement on this model in the previous year, which is offered to all employees at T-Systems International GmbH: Employees who work a five-day week can get up to 12 additional days off per calendar year. For employees who use this option, the employee’s salary is reduced proportionately, and T-Systems provides partial compensation for the reduction. FreiRaum, which complements existing flexible working-time models, thus gives employees more time to invest in their quality of life. Some 500 employees made use of this model in the reporting year.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 2-7 (General Disclosures)


Achieving a good work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom

We offer our employees attractive solutions 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: 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 them 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 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, employees can also receive support upon re-entry into working life following parental leave. In Austria, there are company childcare facilities and holiday childcare programs for the employees’ children.

In 2019, T-Mobile US established the “Returnship Program”, an initiative that 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 “Returnship Program” was opened to veterans, in recognition of the difficulties that veterans often encounter in entering (or returning to) the civilian workplace following their military service. This program was expanded further in 2022, 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 19 women and four men completed this paid, full-time program between January 2022 and June 2022. Around 70 percent of the participants subsequently found a position at T-Mobile US.

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