Liz von Wagenhoff and Philip Siefer are married and both work for the condom brand Einhorn. Acting together in their job has been an important part of their relationship in recent years. He as the founder of the start-up and she as art director. At Einhorn, work and life should not be separated. Employees are therefore allowed to decide for themselves when, for how long and where they work. According to the company, hierarchies no longer exist. Nine months ago, Liz von Wagenhof and Philip Siefer became parents. Does her work model facilitate the compatibility of family and work? Or do they fail because of their own concept?
ZEIT ONLINE: Your son Vico was born nine months ago. Who works for you, who cares about the baby?
Liz von Wagenhoff: Since Vico is not yet in a kindergarten, Philip and I are taking care of each other. I took a four-month break after giving birth and have been back in the office since February. Since then I manage to work together for two days a week. When I work, I take the baby to the office and Philip takes care of him. In between, I quiet down.
ZEIT ONLINE: Do you have firm agreements, who cares when and when?
Wagenhoff: Yeah, we sit down every Sunday and see who has which appointment and when, and then they negotiate - like on the bazaar.
Philip Siefer: This week we did it this way: Monday and Tuesday we're both in the office. Until about 17 o'clock these two days belong Liz. In the meantime, I take care of the baby, but call and go to meetings. On Wednesday I will be hosting an event from 6 to 10 pm so Liz watches. We always try to take the baby with us everywhere, but on stage or in an interview it would be a bit silly. Every Thursday I have a solid strategy day with Waldemar, my co-founder, there Vico stays with Liz and Fridays is our family day, there we have free.
ZEIT ONLINE: How many hours do you work per week?
Wagenhoff: I try to keep the 16 hours relatively strict, I can not do more with the baby.
Siefer: Maybe I'm working 14 hours a day, with lectures between 20 and 30 hours a week.
"Many parents say that you use your time much more effectively, and so it is with me." Philip Siefer
ZEIT ONLINE: How was it before birth?
Wagenhoff: Since we at Einhorn have no fixed working hours, that's hard to say. I was usually in the office at 11 o'clock, had previously worked creatively in peace and stayed until 19 o'clock. On some days, for example before deadlines, but also much longer. Probably between 30 and 40 hours in normal weeks and in 50 and more hours in stressful weeks.
Siefer: During the foundation phase of Einhorn, I worked 60 to 70 hours a week. It was less, but just like Liz, working hours depended on what was needed. On average maybe 50 hours a week.
ZEIT ONLINE: So you both work much less today. Who represents you in the office?
Wagenhoff: In our design team we have hired two new designers. But we needed support anyway. Philip has no representation.
Siefer: Many parents say that you spend your time much more effectively. That's the way it is with me. In addition, we are now 25 people in the team, so I represent all the staff a bit.
"I had to learn to give up." Philip Siefer
ZEIT ONLINE: Can your tasks as founders simply be taken over by other employees?
Siefer: We abolished all hierarchies two years ago. About salary, holidays and new hires is now decided base democratically, how long and when you work, everyone decides. Even if I would be twelve months away, would work here in the best case, everything. If I can not do a lecture myself, I suggest someone from the team.
ZEIT ONLINE: Is not it difficult for you to present your idea not on stage, but your employees?
Siefer: At the beginning of course that was difficult. In the start-up phase, Waldemar and I found it really cool to be the center of the company. But to say that we have no more bosses at Einhorn and at the same time the privilege rauszupicken, to travel for lectures and to sleep in good hotels, does not work. If the presentations are kept by others in the team, the benefit for unicorn is the same. Not for me, but that's an ego problem. I had to learn to give up.
ZEIT ONLINE: How long did it take?
Siefer: I would say: the last three years. In the meantime, I have seen Waldemar and other unicorns on stage many times and know that they are doing great. I know that they have the same intentions as me. I knew that before, but I probably did not really believe it. It is an advantage if we two founders are not like Elon Musk in the center of the company. Otherwise it would be impossible to reduce working hours. And the role of the founder, who invented the whole thing, nobody can take away from me anyway.